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expressing breast milk

  1. #1
    mammalicious is offline Registered User
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    expressing breast milk

    i am trying to express some milk enough for 2 feeds a day.. but i find that when i express milk, it comes out quite easily in the first 6-7minutes of using the electric pump, but then it slows until it stops completely and looks like its just pumping and nothing comes out. i usually give up after pumping for around 10-15minutes total. however, i read in a book that sometimes it takes 30minutes as an example to get 6-8oz from both breasts ....

    my questions is : even if the flow seems to have stopped, should i just continue to wait for more let down (if that is what is supposed to happen) and for the milk to resume "coming out"? or once it has stopped even a slow drip do i just quit as that is all i can express?

    any advice would be greatly appreciated. i have tried a warm compress before expressing once or twice but didn't find that it worked much better, and i already squeeze or massage my breasts from time to time while pumping (but not before in case any leaks out and i waste some precious milk!)

    thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    kellyst is offline Registered User
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    I have the exact same experience as you, but have only assumed that it's normal. my pumping sessions are only 10-15 min. then it slows down or nothing comes out, i would just assume that my breast have been emptied out. the only time i can get 6-8oz from both breast is when breast are hard as a rock in the morning, other times, i get probably half that amount, even worse in the evenings.

    just sharing, i hope this is normal, i did also ready about 30 min. pumping sessions though, and with more consistent output.

  3. #3
    LLL_Sarah is offline Registered User
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    This is very normal – please don’t worry.

    You will get more milk if you pump three times for ten minutes than if you pump once for thirty minutes.

    There are instructions for the manual expression called the Marmet Technique are on the page, http://www.lactationinstitute.org/MANUALEX.html
    (The instructions start about half way down this page.)

    This technique is helpful in getting the let-down, the milk to start to flow. If you want to use this technique with the pump follow the instruction but when the milk starts to flow use the pump instead of hand expressing. If the milk stops flowing again try the massage, stroke and shake again and see if you can get the milk to flow a second time.

    Please note that the diagram of the breast anatomy is out of date. Recent research has discovered that the milk reservoirs under the areola (the dark coloured part of the breast near the nipple) do not exist. The method, however, still works.

    When you pump it is usual to only get one let-down per session. When the baby breastfeeds, however, you will get more let-downs, maybe up to six or seven! The reason for this is because the baby changes the way it sucks to stimulate the breast again thus resulting in another let-down. The pump can’t do this. The type of sucking the pump does is a drawing the milk out suck. The baby does this too, once the let-down has happened.

    The amount of milk you can pump in any one session is related to your breast capacity. Your breast capacity is how much milk you can hold in your breast at any one time. If you have a large breast capacity then you can pump a lot in one session. If you have a small breast capacity you can only pump a little at each pumping session.

    This is only of importance to you if you are fully pumping and giving breast milk rather than breastfeeding. Usually the advice is that you need to pump at least as often as the baby feeds. So we would be expecting between 8 and 14 times in 24 hours. But if you have a large capacity it may be that you don’t need to express so often and can manage to get enough milk for your baby in just 6 sessions.

    If you are actually breastfeeding rather than just supplying the milk – a much healthier choice – then the number of times you breastfeed in 24 hours is dependent on the baby rather than the breast capacity of the mother. Babies have small stomachs and they fill up quickly and empty quickly so then need feeding a lot, usually 8 to 14 times in 24 hours.

    Please remember that it doesn’t matter if you have a large or small breast capacity because the baby will still get the same amount of milk. For example, if you pump 5 times and get 6 oz each time you will end up with 30 oz. And if you pump 10 times and get 3 oz each time you will still only get 30oz.

    Generally it is much easier to breastfeed than to pump. I personally hated pumping and so would be much happier taking my baby with me and breastfeeding than leaving the baby home and having to pump. One of the nice things about Hong Kong is how welcoming everyone is when you have a baby with you.

    Best wishes,
    SARAH

  4. #4
    mammalicious is offline Registered User
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    what i am confused and frustrated with is that at the most i have managed to pump 160ml from my right breast and 110ml from my left. this was done early in the morning when i first woke up and feed the other breast (only pumped 1 breast and feed the other to my daughter). This only happened 1-2 days.

    however for some reason that has dwindled and now i can only manage to pump 110 from my right and 70-80 from my left (i was lucky the other morning and managed once for 1 morning to get 150ml from the right)

    is there some reason for the change??? and what can i do to maintain the higher amount pumped out?

  5. #5
    LLL_Sarah is offline Registered User
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    Pumping is very dependent on how you are feeling – both physically and emotionally. Thus on good days you’ll get more than on bad days.

    This is not the same with breastfeeding because when you breastfeed your hormone levels, especially oxytocin, are much higher than when you pump.

    It is very normal for the amount of milk you can express to fluctuate. At the evening LLL meetings we have a number of mothers who have been expressing milk for their babies while they work and each one will tell you of times when the amount they could pump dropped and other times when it raised again – usually the mothers can’t say why. Although I do know one mother who usually expressed about 10 oz in three sessions while at work and the day she was promoted she went home with over 18 oz.

    Generally if you wish to increase the amount of milk you express in the day the answer is to do it more often. For example you will get more milk it you express three times and add the milk together than if you express just once.

    When mothers have to rely on expressing a lot and can’t directly breastfeed (please remember that direct breastfeeding is not only easier but actually healthier too) they sometimes find it hard to keep a full supply. This is when herbs and other medicines can help.

    Dr. Jack Newman explains the amounts to take on his web site at http://www.breastfeedingonline.com/24.html
    Remember - herbal treatments are only part of the solution to “not enough milk” (see protocol to increase breast milk intake by the baby, http://www.breastfeedingonline.com/notenough.html).

    It actually sounds as though you have enough milk for your baby but just that you are finding it hard to express the milk. I bet you little one is close to doubling her birth weight. It is a pity that our culture is so in favour of expressing and giving the milk in a bottle rather than taking the baby with you and breastfeeding.

    Best wishes,
    SARAH

  6. #6
    smu_hk is offline Registered User
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    Question Milk Supply!

    Hi Sarah,

    I am working fulltime, I feel my milk supply is slowing down.
    I still nurse my 9mths baby each night to sleep, nowadays, I pump only once a day. I used to pump 2x a day - avg 300ml, but now it's not as much as before - I only bring home 150ml. My problem is, my baby won't take from the bottle when I try to feed her anytime, but will if it's from the helper when I am not around. I feel my milk is not enough, thus she waking at least 2-3 times each night to feed. So I want to know if I don't pump much during the day, but continue to nurse her at night alone, will my supply dwindle? Also - I don't have that full/engorged feeling that I used to have if I miss a pump. It actually feels empty. Is that normal?
    Thanks!

  7. #7
    LLL_Sarah is offline Registered User
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    Dear Smu_hk,

    It is very normal that the amount you can pump reduces as the number of times you pump reduces. Also mothers often have problems maintaining pumping quantities over a long period – fluctuations are very common.

    Babies are very clever at knowing what they want and getting it. When the mother is home they want to be breastfed and often refuse a bottle. Whereas when the mother is out they are willing to put up with milk in a bottle. I often have mothers tell me that even hiding in another room in the flat is no good and that they actually have to leave the building before the baby will accept milk from the maid or father in a bottle.

    As time passes and your body gets use to lactating your breasts stop having the full feeling they had in the early weeks. This doesn’t mean that you no longer have milk rather that your body has adjusted to it. A normal lactating breast is soft not hard. When you have been breastfeeding for over six months your body knows that the baby will start to eat some solids and get interested in other things and so will forget to ask for milk as much. If your body didn’t start being able to cope with this as mothers we would have a very uncomfortable time.

    It is common for babies to wake up at night and it isn’t always because they are hungry, although breastfeeding them is often the easiest way to get them back to sleep.

    Please don’t worry about losing your milk. Once you have your milk supply established, usually around six weeks, it is really quite hard to lose it. Obviously the amount of milk you make is dependent on how much breastfeeding (or pumping) you do. One study I read said that it takes an average of 42 days (6 weeks) for mothers to completely loose their milk after the baby has been fully weaned.

    Best wishes,
    SARAH

  8. #8
    smu_hk is offline Registered User
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    Smile

    Thanks for that Sarah.

    I feel more at ease now with the information you have presented.
    I didn't realise it takes that long for the breast to stop producing milk.
    It is true that she still won't feed if I try to hide in another room!

    Cheers!

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