Breastfeeding Journey: Building Your Milk Stash (Increasing The Pumping Output)

Friday, July 18, 2014
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Breastfeeding could have been a whole lot easier if only all of us mummies can stay with our little ones 24/7.

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** Image grabbed from Google.

But some of us, like me, cannot afford to stay at home. We have to work so the family can have a better life. And since I am very much determined to feed Skye with only breast milk, until she self-weans, building my milk stash is another major road bump on my breastfeeding journey.

I have mentioned again and again in this blog that I had supply issues. Not when direct feeding the baby, of course, but when pumping. There are days when I can only bring home 8-9oz of milk. Not enough for Skye who consumes 12-16oz already. I am very much struggling.

Usually, your supply issues would be a lot noticeable when you pump milk out since you can measure them unlike when you direct feed, where you just pop the boob and let the baby dede for as long as she likes.

There are days when I'd question myself and my ability to provide milk for my darling little one. I am so afraid that I won't be able to supply her with enough milk. I am so afraid that I'd resort to formula feeding. So I worked harder.

Skye's almost 5months and still exclusively breastfed. I went back to work last May and has been pumping M-F for more than two months already. Right now, I have enough milk stash to last her for at least 3 days. Until now I can't believe that I was able to do it. That I was able to provide milk for the baby. Nag-growth spurt pa sya a couple of weeks back. She'd consume 18oz per day and would dede all night! Kaloka!

So let me share with you what I did to build my stash and to atleast increase my pumping output.

1. Pump for atleast 15min per boob. I use a double electric breast pump so it's faster for me to pump but I always make sure that the timer is on everytime I pump. It is very important that you pump for atleast 15min so you could get the 2nd or 3rd let down. Dati kasi, I'd pump until there's no more milk coming out. Usually that's only around 5-10min. But I read on KellyMom that you should pump for 15min kahit wala ng milk na lumalabas. Just continue to pump and after a couple of minutes you'd feel another round of let down. Usually, that's equivalent to 1 more ounce of milk. And we all know that every drop is important.

2. Use the correct pump setting, especially if you are using an electric pump. My pump has a knob that defines how strong the suction is. I thought that I'd just set the pump to it's max suction strength to produce more but I'm wrong. It is important that you try to imitate your baby's suction so your breast could produce more. In my case, I need to set it to low suction strength for 1-2min to stimulate the breast and then set it to a couple of notches lower than the max setting. Max setting is too strong for me and my breasts. It's really more like a trial and error thing. Try different setting and use the one where you are most comfortable with. It took me 2weeks to finally define the correct setting for me but once you do, pumping would be a breeze. Of course, it'll be easier if you pump manually coz you define the suction strength.

3. Set a schedule and follow it religiously. I pump every 3hours at work. 11AM, 2PM and 5 or 6PM. I make sure I follow the schedule and pump religiously so my body would know that there's a need to produce milk round the clock because this mummy needs to collect them.

4. What you can't produce in quantity, produce in frequency. I've already said it on my previous blog entries but, really! It does saved me and my breastfeeding journey. Usually, I'd add some more pumping sessions in between feeding or while feeding at night and early in the morning. I'd reserve my righ breast and won't let Skye feed on it at night so I could pump early in the morning. It's usually the right breast because my right breast produces more pumping output. It is kinda tiring honestly but you just have to do it.

5. Pump during weekends. Yep! even though we are direct feeding on weekends, I always make sure I still squeeze some more pumping time on weekends especially early in the morning and right after shower coz mas madami ang output. Also, I'd feed the baby on the left breast and pump on the right even on weekends para makaipon. Really, if you think about it parang nag iipon ka lang talaga. Every ounce na pwede idagdag sa stash, malaking bagay na yun.

6. Read a book. watch a tv series. Sing. Do whatever it is that would help you relax. I now read a book everytime I pump at work. It helps me relax and take my mind off the pressure of pumping more milk.

Those 6 really does helped me a lot, especially 1-3 and 6. As in I noticed a big difference on the amount of milk I was able to produce while at work. Kaya din hindi na ako ganon kadalas na nagpa-pump sa madaling araw. Whatever it is na napa-pump ko sa office, madalas enough na for the baby. I'd just pump early in the morning or after my morning shower. Or sometimes, I'd squeeze another pumping break at work the minute I get in.

But actually, I have also decided to not worry with the amount of milk I can pump. Eh ano kung 2oz lang ako per pumping session? Dadalasan ko nalang. And funny enough, the moment I stopped worrying, dun naman dumami ang milk ko. Now I can pump 4-5oz every 3hours! Madami na yun since I direct feed at night and during weekends naman. Plus we follow the 1-1.5oz per hour rule. Actually nga, hindi na din ako masyado nagtitipid sa milk na iniiwan ko. Dati I'd really push the 1oz per hour rule. Now, 1.5oz per hour na kami. Sometimes I'd leave 18oz of milk and would allow the baby to consume it all. But of course, I am still very firm na max na ang 1.5oz/hr. I don't want to overfeed her naman. Hindi maganda ang effect kay Skye. Usually nagiging fussy sya sa gabi and she can't sleep well.

Breastfeeding is not easy. You have sacrifice a lot. You have to really understand it. You have to make it work.

I now understand why a lot of mummies gave up on it. It’s no joke. And if you are someone who needed to be away from your baby, the difficulties are magnified a hundred times more. But there’s nothing we won’t do for our darling little ones, right?

Have a fun weekend ahead!

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