not responding to pump — The Bump

not responding to pump

I've always had supply issues and figured that was the reason I could never pump more than 1/2oz per breast... and often only 10-15ml. (No, I was not using the pumping as proof of low supply -DS was always hungry and only gained 1oz after an hour of nursing during a weighed feeding.)

I recently began domperidone and our nursing is goimg SO much better. I finally understand why its called a "nursing relationship" whereas before it felt robotic. However! Last couple times I tried to pump I got nothing. Zip. Despite being full of milk because DS fell asleep for his nap before eating.

Has this happened to anyone else? Has anyone never responded/suddenly stopped responding to the pump? I'm not sure what I'll do if I have to go back to work in a couple months!

Re: not responding to pump

  • I'm pump challenged.  

    I have the milk, I know it's there, but can't pump more than an ounce.  I would just go by how your son eats and how your breasts feel before and after feedings.  You may also want to try the herbal supplements.  When my kids went through a growth spurt I would take the milk maid tea and it would work great.

     Supply is so hard to gauge and really so long as your baby is thriving I wouldn't worry too much about it.    

    Cyndie Loud Kids, Tired Mom
  • I responded terrible to the pump with DS.  Like you, I could feel the milk in my breasts, but it would hardly come out.  It would be over 15 minutes before I got more than drops. 

    This time, I'm not a super producer or anything, but it is going much better.  I bought a set of Pumpin Pals, and they are fabulous!  They are so much more comfortable than the standard flanges I used with DS.  I think a lot of my problem was that the flanges I was using were too small.

    Another piece of advice I have is to not turn up the suction so high that it's uncomfortable.  I find that I get the most milk with it turned up halfway.  Experiment with different suction levels. 

    I also do breast massage and compressions while pumping.  This is a great video that explains it:

    Other things that I've heard of, but haven't tried, is to look at pictures of LO or smell a piece of his clothing. 

    Finally, I think some of it comes with practice.  It becomes a conditioned response.  With continued pumping, I've trained myself to let down for the pump.  I practically start leaking as soon as I put on my hands free bra.

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  • PP gave GREAT advice.  I might try some of it, haha.

    One thing I remember reading is that if you are too engorged, you'd think it would be easier to pump, but it's not.  Everything is so tight and constricted, that the milk doesn't come out as easily.  I have heard to use heat to allow the milk to come out better.  I haven't tried it myself (seems like I would end up with water drips all over the place) but the theory makes sense to me.

    I get nothing from the pump unless I do compressions.  Since I am left-handed, I was better at it on my left side and surprise surprise, lefty is my star.  

    Once you are at work, you will develop a rhythm and it will come to you naturally. 

  • With DS1 I was a very poor responder to the pump. It would take me all day of pumping between feeding and for missed feedings just to get 3 ounces.  When I decided to extend my maternity leave I stopped pumping as much and I was never able to get any pumped milk after that.  With DS2 pumping is going better.  I'm still no pumping superstar, but I have a freezer full of milk.

    I have found it is important to be consistent with my pumping routine and that I have to pump for a pretty long time to get 1-3 ounces (I pumped 6 ounces one time, and 5 ounces a handful of times - but not recently).  I also do breast compressions.

  • What pump do you have?  I have the Medela pump-in-style and I get more milk on the "let down" setting.  You push the yellow button and the pump goes faster, not harder, to get a second let down.  If I didn't use that 2-3 times a session I get much less.  
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  • Yes!  Totally!  I was doing really well pumping at about week3-4 and then I made a big mistake.  I started using the battery back to power my pump.  I didn't notice that it was losing power, and I started to use a stronger pump setting thinking  I had adapted...and then got a horrible blister.  I struggled through using a shield, but it only helped while breastfeeding, so I went back to ebf.  When I returned to  the pump a few days later, I found I had stopped responding and was only getting an ounce or two (I was getting 8-10 ounces at a sitting, 30 minute session, before the blister).  So, now I pump on the lowest setting with the pump plugged in - I use the medela pump in style too.  When I don't get a let down (after trying the let down setting) I go take a hot shower and massage olive oil on my breasts.  That lets me find the engorged spots.  Then when I return to the pump, I gently compress on the parts of my breasts that were still painful/engorged.  It works for me.  My pumping is not quite back to the old supply level, but it's coming back.  I'm only half way into week 6 and just finished pumping 6 don't give up! 
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