Instructables

How To Pump Enough Milk For Your Baby

So, you've managed to bring a cute wee person into the world, figured out a few basics, like how to change a diaper, and how to install a car seat, and suddenly, it's time to go back to work.  I'm assuming 'You' are American here, since other countries tend to have less crappy maternity leave, but I digress. 

If you've been following WHO guidelines, or have just been doing what comes naturally, and breastfeeding your baby, this is probably where you get nervous, and wonder how you're going to feed your kid now.  Electric breast pumps have been on the market since the early nineties, and before then, many women hand expressed, or used manual pumps, but the whole prospect sounds rather intimidating, doesn't it?  It doesn't have to be.  With the right equipment, confidence, and some support, you can keep breastfeeding your baby, even if you can't always be with him.  

This instructable is still being edited, so currently, it's published to allow mom-friends (or anyone else who wants rambling advice) access.

 
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Step 1: Don't Pump And Dump

Breast pumps exist so your baby can have your milk even when you're elsewhere, not so you can pour your milk down the sink.  It's really common to tell a nursing mother that she should pump her milk and then toss it because she's on medication, or even because she's had a drink, and it's typically bad advice. 

If a medical professional ever advises you to do this, or to avoid nursing because of medication you've been given, ask that person to research their information, or look it up/get your friend with the shiny new iPhone to look it up online.  Dr Thomas Hale's Medications and Mother's Milk has information on what levels of drugs pass into breast milk; what's safe, and what isn't.  His Infant Risk Center has recently started a hotline, at . (806)-352-2519, Monday-Friday 8am-5pm CST.  kellymom.com has lists, too.  It IS alright to ask to be given an alternative drug if you're worried about how needed medication might affect your child. 

Similarly, if you'd like a glass of wine with your dinner, or want to see if your neighbor's homemade beer is as good as he says it is, go ahead and have the drink.  Alcohol isn't stored in breast milk, it's metabolized over time, so when you're sober, or very close to sober, your milk is too.

Well-meaning dads and relatives will sometimes suggest you express milk so you can sleep while they give your baby a bottle, or so they can bond with the baby through feeding.  Sounds great, but skipping nursing sessions is one of the fastest ways to kill your milk supply.  Why not have dad bring the baby to you in bed instead?  Never give a baby a bottle when you could give her a boob.

crash281 year ago
I thought we were talking about pumping enough milk???? Which I wish I could do when I go back to work.. unfortunately I am a very busy hairstylist and wil have no consistent time to pump... Lucky if I get e chance to eat at work.... So I will continue to nurse my daughter in the morning and at night before bed and my body will adjust and continue to supply the milk she needs based on how often she suckles.. DIid the same for my son and GASP! I gave them both formula in between!!!! I nursed exclusively for 8 months with our son and 4 months with our daughter .Now I can no longer afford to be on maternity leave (IN CANADA) because not all of us have maternity benefits.. just E.I (which doesn't pay the bills.)

Furthurmore; WONDERFUL info to new mothers on breastfeeeding and pumping (which I am a HUGE advocate) but also most importantly to new mothers.... Breastfeeding IS the optimal way to feed baby , but don't put too much pressure on yourself.. as long as you gave it your best shot.. there is NO SHAME in formula, nor should you feel like you are giving your baby poison if you choose formula.
Amiga500 (author)  crash281 year ago
No desire to shame anyone here. I'm trying to collect what I know and present it without making it sound like breastfeeding/pumping is either horrendously difficult, or so mystical and intimate we can't really talk about it.

Some moms work their butts off, and still struggle to produce or express enough milk, or work jobs that make pumping really difficult. Uncool, but not every woman who goes back to work right after giving birth gets to be a Yahoo CEO. If you, as a mother, need to supplement with formula, you're doing what you need to to feed your child, which is part of the good-parent job description. Generally, anger about promoting formula tends to be aimed at the manufacturers who'd profit from convincing you to use it instead of your own milk, especially in situations where doing so really is dangerous, like when clean water's hard to get, or trying to pay for it's going to make you unable to feed yourself. I have seen some women get judgmental to other moms about formula use, and that's not okay, though I suspect they would have been frenemies in high school, and will grow up to be unpleasant old ladies, too.

If you find yourself taking flack for how you feed your child, please do smile and walk away, or present the advice giver with a creative place to put their opinion.
Awesome, fantastic, wonderful advice! That's a lot of what I try to pass on to new moms. And for the record to the previous responder, a lot of doc's don't KNOW how much goes into breastmilk or for how long. My doc had told me to pump and dump, and the anesthesiologist overheard and said "Honey, don't you DARE dump that milk! As soon as you feel better, it's safe to nurse!". The same is true for alcohol, by the way- if you feel sober, your milk is fine. It doesn't hang around any longer than in your bloodstream.

My favorite sites for medically sound, up to date info on this stuff area:
1) www.kellymom.com (no affiliation)
2) www.askdrsears.com (no affiliation)

My two cents on pumps (for the sake of sharing, not trying to correct or add to your points LOL): My $50 Avent Isis, being a single side manual, took a smidge longer than my $200 Pump In Style double electric, but was quieter and I got just as much milk. I pumped not only while working, but once at night or in the morning to build up my emergency stash, and froze flat in bags, then stood up in a plastic shoe box for easy use.

Rock on, mama-and thanks for sharing!
Kiteman1 year ago
That's a lot of nice advice, but I would strongly contest parts of step 1.

Firstly, if you receive medical advice from a qualified medical professional, you do not turn to the internet to find advice you like better - free medical advice is from the internet is frequently worth less than you pay for it.

It is an established fact that quite a lot of substances you consume, including alcohol, are excreted directly in the milk. Indeed, when a suckling child wasn't sleeping well, midwives in the UK used to advice mothers to take a small drink, such as a tot of whiskey or a half a pint of stout.

(And who is this "Dr Thomas Hale"? I cannot find any references to him except via references to his book on commercial sites. He does not seem to have done any actual research on the subject. His own site takes on the visual trappings of academia, yet has a commercial URL.)
Amiga500 (author)  Kiteman1 year ago
My concern is with doctors who haven't done the research telling a mother that medication she's on will hurt her baby. Medications and Mother's Milk is a compilation of information on whether various drugs enter milk, and how dangerous they are to babies, if they do. AFAIK, Thomas Hale is a pharmacist who put the information together from various sources, rather than the original researcher. IME, a pharmacist will tend to know more about a prescription drug than the doctor who prescribed it, but by the time you're in the pharmacy, it's too late to ask for a new prescription. The Infant Risk Center is run by Texas Tech.

In a world where it's common for doctors not to tell patients that the antibiotics they're taking for an ear infection could keep their birth control pills from being effective, I think it makes a lot of sense to do your own research on anything you're prescribed, and ask for an alternative, if the side effects (like not being able to feed your baby) seem problematic.

I'm familiar with using beer as a galactogogue, and know that brewer's yeast and oats are used for the same purpose, so I suspect it's the grains that have an effect (assuming there is an effect), rather than the alcohol, since there isn't much in beer. I've never heard of a mother drinking a bit to help a child sleep, though I know enough grandparents apparently had whiskey rubbed on their gums to help teething pain.
I think you've had a bad experience with a tiny minority of doctors.

Your family doctor doesn't need to research the effects of a drug - that's the FDA's job. If the FDA says the drug is safe for pregnant or nursing mothers, then it's a pretty safe bet that you're OK using it.
Amiga500 (author)  Kiteman1 year ago
The problem doesn't tend to be with moms getting prescribed drugs that are dangerous to their babies, but rather with women being told they can't nurse while on a certain drug, when a doctor could have looked up that drug, and found that it is safe for nursing, or sought an alternative. It's a fairly common complaint among nursing moms.

It's the FDA's job to review the safety of medications, the doctor's job to make sure that what they're doing is in the patient's best interest, and the patient's job to be their own advocate, even though that probably shouldn't be necessary.
Amiga500 (author)  Amiga5001 year ago
To tl;dr this, it's okay to do some research on the medical advice you're given; and what I've listed are ways to do so. Don't skip a needed medication because some dodgy site told you to do so, but do ask your doctor for all your options.

Wanting to be able to continue to drink (in moderation, obviously, if just so you're fit to care for your kid) or continue to take needed drugs are fairly commonly given as reasons to not nurse, or stop nursing, and they don't need to be.
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