Pumping and Milk Supply

I planned to breast-feed RJ, but we had trouble getting her to latch, so within a couple of days after she was born she had formula for the first time. We needed to buy some time so she wouldn’t starve while we learned how to latch. But a mother’s milk supply is directly related to how much milk her baby draws out of the breasts and since RJ wasn’t taking any milk at all from my breasts I had to enter into the world of the breast pump to stop my milk from drying up.

If your pumping goal is to work towards syncing your boobs with your baby’s appetite the ideal thing is to pump every time the baby feeds. Then at the next feed you can give baby whatever milk you’ve pumped through a finger feed, supplemental nursing system or bottle (and if you are not producing very much milk you can supplement with formula).

I wasn’t producing very much milk until four days postpartum. My milk came in with a vengeance and I was engorged all the way to my collarbones. Then RJ couldn’t latch on my nipples because my breasts were like rocks. I pumped furiously for a few days to relieve the pressure.

But…. I MADE A MISTAKE.

This is the reason why I wanted to write this post.

I pumped on the HIGHEST SUCTION SETTING of the pump. I thought it would get the milk out faster and make my pumping more efficient. I found out later that it is better to pump with the lowest suction that will work to draw out the milk. What happened for me was that I overstimulated my breasts, which increased my milk production… so my breasts stayed engorged for longer, and baby’s latching problems were exacerbated.

This simple mistake led me into an overproduction of milk, so when RJ tried to feed, the milk came out too forcefully and she would start to choke.

This story does end well though. I started pumping on a lower setting, my breasts became less swollen, RJ and I learned how to latch and breast-feed without any paraphernalia. One day, I sat on a bench in Ikea and fed RJ from my breasts. It was fast, convenient and discreet. We’d made it.

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