Ahhh breastfeeding. It is beautiful and amazing and hard!! I am four months into my breastfeeding journey with my son and it has been SO completely different than with my daughter. I was lucky enough to breastfeed my daughter for a year. It was a very rough start with her. I had problems latching and ended up with sore, cracked nipples and mastitis. Despite the pain(s) I had amazing support from my husband and parents whom we were living with at the time. And a year later there we were. Fast forward to now. I was fully prepared for the physical pain that can come with breastfeeding since that was my experience the first time around. But this time it has been so easy! It truly felt like I picked up with my son right where I had left off with my daughter. With both my children however supply has always been a concern.
As a breastfeeding Mom, the biggest question in my head (especially when something is off) is DO I HAVE ENOUGH MILK??? And, when I pump two lousy ounces I immediately start worrying. Maybe this is why he woke up last night? Is he growing well? How many diapers have I changed today? You get it. And to all the other pumping Mamas out there, I FEEL YA! Especially when you start comparing your pumping supply with others. I love talking to other Moms about my kids. I love comparing notes and seeing how they tackle the same issues I’m dealing with. They get it cause they’re fully in the thick of it as well! It’s refreshing. But when you’re talking about breastfeeding and you hear about Moms pumping 5oz on each side in under ten minutes — my head just explodes. WHO has that kind of supply?! Where is all that milk going?
The truth is women do have that kind of supply and it is called an over-supply and you do not need it to have a happy, healthy baby! Lots of women who have an over-supply have a lovely freezer stash and/or donate their milk which I think is amazing. Me? Not so much. Wahhh wahhhhhhhh. The milk in the above pic was not pumped in one or even two sessions! In fact, it took about three to four different pumping sessions to get the above. I typically combine two pumping sessions for one bottle (4-5 oz). But sometimes it takes even more pumping. I breastfeed my baby full-time. I pump if/when I miss a feeding (if I go out and he has a bottle) and/or sometimes I pump in between feedings to get a small freezer stash for those times we may want to plan a date night, and because I like to have a small stash at all times just incase. But, I loathe pumping. There, I said it.
When I pump I simply never feel like I have enough and it makes me question whether or not my baby is getting enough. So I started doing research and I found some great info! I’ve basically summed up three things to remind yourself if you’re feeling down about pumping. These are pulled directly from the resources listed at the end of this post!
1. No pump can remove milk from the breast as well as an effectively nursing baby, so pumping does not maintain milk supply as well as a nursing baby. It is not unusual to need to pump 2-3 times to get enough milk for one feeding for baby. It is totally normal to have to pump a TON in order to get enough for one feeding! Which kinda sucks (literally and figuratively) especially for working Moms!
2. It is typical for a mother who is breastfeeding full-time to be able to pump around 1/2 to 2 ounces total (for both breasts) per pumping session. These numbers are averages but again it reiterates that even a little half an ounce (per side) is normal.
3. It is normal for pumping output to vary from session to session and day to day. I love when I have a great day and get way more than usual but some days it just isn’t working. There are a lot of factors that affect milk yield (again, see resources below for more). For me personally I need to drink LOTS of water. If I get dehydrated I immediately notice a difference when I pump.
One of the things that also truly helps my pumping output is hands on pumping. It’s fascinating stuff! And I really love this pump, especially if I need to pump when I’m not at home! So I hope that if there are any other nursing Mamas out there with anxieties like mine that this information puts you at ease. It certainly helped me to realize that my baby is getting exactly what he needs!
NOW see below for an amazing Lactation Cookie Recipe shared with me by my sister-in-law. They recommend eating four cookies a day to help with supply. Ummmmmm, twist my arm!
Lactation Cookie Recipe
There is A LOT more information where this came from. Specifically from KellyMom.com my go-to resource for any and all breastfeeding related questions/anxieties. See this post in particular. I’ve also found this post helpful as well as La Leche League, which is great!
Recipe via Simply Real Moms