How to decrease pumps without engorgement and/or let-down pain?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-05-2014
How to decrease pumps without engorgement and/or let-down pain?
4
Sat, 04-05-2014 - 8:34pm

My son was born at 34 weeks. I wasn't allowed to start breastfeeding him right away and the times that we did try were unsuccessful. So I have been EP for 3 weeks now (he is now 3 weeks old). I just want to say that it was great to find this support group as it is horrible the way the world makes you feel like you're no good because you can't breastfeed. Until this support group and until finding Mother-2-Mother.com/ExclusivePumping, I felt really depressed that I cannot breastfeed even though I have been very successful at pumping. I have read about moms that don't pump at night when their babies start sleeping through the night and wonder how they do that. I have been pumping very strictly every 3-4hrs and have found that if I go more than 5hrs without a pump, one of my breasts becomes painfully engorged and it takes a few more pumps, usually a full day, before I feel any relief. Is there a way to go about getting on a schedule of not pumping at night and only pumping during the day without the engorgement and pain? Obviously I am not looking to do this yet as my son is not sleeping through the night yet but would like to know for the future. And when I am ready to stop pumping (which is many many months away from now), how do I go about getting to that point? 

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-23-2014
My two cents- your body eventually (well after your supply is established) figures it out and a more reasonable schedule just kinda happens and the painful engorgment stops. At this point it should be hard to go more than a few hours without your body telling you to pump. You are building up your supply and need to pump a lot whether baby is sleeping through the night or not. As you get into a couple months of EPing you should feel more comfortable in between pumps. As you get more comfortable in between pumps you will feel less urgency to pump as often in a 24 hour period. You may also find, like i did, that certain pumping sessions (for me mid afternoon and first evening sessions) were starting to get smaller on their own so it made sense to combine them, thus dropping one pump. As far as knowing when to drop sessions...all I can say is listen to your body. I dropped my middle of the night pump around 3.5 months because i wasn't feeling as much pressure/fullness that was waking me at 2am. My daughter was sleeping through the night for several weeks before this so it was a big pain to be getting up at night just to pump when everyone else was sleeping. But i didn't drop the pump because she was sleeping...i did because my body was letting me, if that makes sense. I ended up pumping the same amount of oz whether i pumped in the middle of the night or not for a long time (eventually it goes down as your body reregulates). My first morning pump was always huge from then on out. What helped me get rid of some engorgement quickly was hand squeezing/massaging full areas while hooked up to the pump. If i still had a rock hard area after pumping I would (if able) get in the hot shower and hand massage/express until it released (typically would take about 5-10 mins of excessive squeezing. I dealt with constant plugged ducts and two rounds of mastitis and the hot shower and squeezing helped me the most. I successfully EP'd for 12 months and all i can say is that weaning at the end, for me, was no problem at all, easier than i thought it would be. I think that was another factor that got me to 12 months...i was afraid of what weaning would feel like (i too thought it would feel like the uncomfortable engorged first several weeks) so i just kept going and going not wanting to find out. I had done four pumps a day for almost 8 months and when it was time to decrease to finish within just a few weeks i was completely done - no painful engorgement at any time. Within 10 days of going down to 2x/day (again by listening to how my body was feeling - if it felt full i pumped, if it didn't i'd let it go) i had completely graduated from EPing.
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-23-2014
My two cents- your body eventually (well after your supply is established) figures it out and a more reasonable schedule just kinda happens and the painful engorgment stops. At this point it should be hard to go more than a few hours without your body telling you to pump. You are building up your supply and need to pump a lot whether baby is sleeping through the night or not. As you get into a couple months of EPing you should feel more comfortable in between pumps. As you get more comfortable in between pumps you will feel less urgency to pump as often in a 24 hour period. You may also find, like i did, that certain pumping sessions (for me mid afternoon and first evening sessions) were starting to get smaller on their own so it made sense to combine them, thus dropping one pump. As far as knowing when to drop sessions...all I can say is listen to your body. I dropped my middle of the night pump around 3.5 months because i wasn't feeling as much pressure/fullness that was waking me at 2am. My daughter was sleeping through the night for several weeks before this so it was a big pain to be getting up at night just to pump when everyone else was sleeping. But i didn't drop the pump because she was sleeping...i did because my body was letting me, if that makes sense. I ended up pumping the same amount of oz whether i pumped in the middle of the night or not for a long time (eventually it goes down as your body reregulates). My first morning pump was always huge from then on out. What helped me get rid of some engorgement quickly was hand squeezing/massaging full areas while hooked up to the pump. If i still had a rock hard area after pumping I would (if able) get in the hot shower and hand massage/express until it released (typically would take about 5-10 mins of excessive squeezing. I dealt with constant plugged ducts and two rounds of mastitis and the hot shower and squeezing helped me the most. I successfully EP'd for 12 months and all i can say is that weaning at the end, for me, was no problem at all, easier than i thought it would be. I think that was another factor that got me to 12 months...i was afraid of what weaning would feel like (i too thought it would feel like the uncomfortable engorged first several weeks) so i just kept going and going not wanting to find out. I had done four pumps a day for almost 8 months and when it was time to decrease to finish within just a few weeks i was completely done - no painful engorgement at any time. Within 10 days of going down to 2x/day (again by listening to how my body was feeling - if it felt full i pumped, if it didn't i'd let it go) i had completely graduated from EPing.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2011

Hi! Congratulations on your baby! 

Yes, later on you will defintely be able to drop the middle of the night pump. In the early weeks, your supply is all over the place, and in many cases, hasn't regulated yet. I think the best thing that you can do is get yourself on a schedule where you are regularly pumping at set times (or intervals of time) so that you don't get engorged, and in a few weeks, you should be able to start dropping pumps. I started at 8 or 9 a day and was down to 5 (with no middle of the night one) when I went back to work. Good luck!

Henry 2/11

Violet 12/12

My exclusive pumping story

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-18-2013

I did not drop my middle of the night pump until recently, at about 6 months. But that is because my baby only now sleeps through the night (and still occasionally gets up). If she does get up in the middle of  the night still, then I pump...but only because I figure I might as well as long as I am awake. And in a way, it is nice to pump in the middle of the night after she has fallen back asleep, the dog isn't barking, the phone isn't ringing, etc. 

I used to get clogged ducts often if I was "late to pump." But knock on wood, it has been months since the last one. So I think it is true that at some point your body just adjusts and is can tolerate going longer lengths of time between pumping sessions. 

Best of luck!