The information and opinions on this blog come from parents, and the blog is not associated with Primary Children´s Medical Center or any other institution.


This site is specifically for parents of kids with clefts being treated at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, but I hope that there will be information that is helpful to all parents of kids with clefts. If you are just starting to learn about clefts, I would suggest starting with the "General Information" topic and going from there. To find information on a specific doctor or topic, click on one of the links on the right. You can also search the blog using the box below the topic list. If you have information or experiences to share, please leave comments or contact me to do a guest post at Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pumping Tips

Here are some tips that one of the pros at Primary's on pumping gave for one mom:
  • To begin with, if the pumping is painful, something is probably wrong.
  • Over 50% of the time, it is that the flange size is incorrect.
  • Medela and Ameda both have several flange sizes. A good website for mom to look up is which shows a short video of a mom pumping and how it should look if the flange size is correct.
  • The other possibility is that this mom is using a small electric pump that is meant only to be used a few times per day. She really needs to rent a hospital grade electric pump. This will be more comfortable for her and also much quicker.
  • Milk is made on supply and demand.
  • Most mom's need to pump at least 6 times/24 hours to have enough milk.
  • Decreasing to only 2 - 3 times/24 hours will significantly decrease production most likely to less than 50% of the need.
  • Mom's goal for total production should be 24 ounces/day when baby is 2 weeks old and should be ~30 - 32 ounces per day when her baby is a month old.
  • Mom's milk is made perfect regardless of how much stress she is under. The problem with stress is that it impacts production resulting in less milk. Hope that helps!
And some more tips:
  • More suction doesn't always equal more milk; it may just make you sore, resulting in less milk. Keep the suction at a comfortable level; you may want to start low, then increase it slightly once milk starts flowing.
  • You may also want to try varying the pumping speed rather than the suction if your pump has that capability.
  • Drink lots of water and get plenty of calories and nutrition! Like stress, lack of nutrition won't significantly decrease the quality of your milk, but it will decrease the quantity you produce. Breastfeeding/pumping can burn 200-600 calories per day (depending on who you ask).
  • There are great tips and guidelines on the Ameda website for mothers who exclusively pump here.
  • There are also tips from Dr. Sears here, including tips on massaging prior to and during pumping. I have found this to be really helpful in producing more milk.
  • There isn't always something wrong if pumping is painful, particularly at first. Breastfeeding is generally uncomfortable at the start, and pumping is no different. However, if it continues to be really painful for an extended time period, then some adjustments may be helpful.
  • Have your baby sit with you while you are pumping; it can help you to produce more. I used to feed my baby while pumping - it was more efficient, I was more likely to pump as much as he needed, and it helped my let-down.
  • Figure out a way to pump hands-free. They sell bands that hold up the horns online, but they are a bit pricey. You can also try cutting slits in the front of a sports bra, or just propping the horns in your regular bra by pulling the cups up over the bottom of the horn and pulling your shirt down over the top. This way you can hold your baby or do other multi-tasking that helps the time to go by.
  • Have snacks, water, etc. on hand at your pumping "station." Make it a relaxing spot.
  • Get an extra set of horns so that you don't have to clean them as often. You can also put them in the refrigerator between pumpings to reduce washings (since the milk on the horns will stay good in the fridge).
  • Some women take Fenugreek supplements to increase their milk supply. They are available at health stores like GNC. You may want to ask a lactation consultant about it.
  • You may also use a little bit of vegetable oil to lubricate the horns and reduce irritation; creams like Lansinoh are often not smooth enough.
  • There is also a Yahoo! group here for mothers who pump exclusively for medical reasons.
I'm sure there is more wisdom out there, and I'll add more tips as I come across them!

One final note: if you are in the beginning stages, be encouraged! It's not easy, but it can be done, and you may find that it gets easier with time. My son is 9 months old now and eats 5 times a day, and I have been able to cut down to 4 pumpings a day and haven't had to supplement with formula. I tried to mimick nature and decreased my pumpings as he spread out his feedings. That being said, if you aren't able to pump for your baby, don't let yourself feel guilty about it! Everyone's circumstances and bodies are different. It is easier for some than others, and with a baby with special needs, you have enough stress on your plate! Plenty of babies thrive on formula. I think that I have had it relatively easy, but even so I have been tempted to quit many, many times. And if I have another baby with a cleft, I don't know if I'll be able to pump like I did for my first; we'll have to see what our circumstances and my sanity are like then.

1 comment: