Rethinking my pumping schedule

I’ve been back at work part-time for 6 weeks now. So far, things have been going okay. I get a bit of me time while at work, try to catch up with the happenings, and it makes me feel like I’ve done something. While I would love to be a stay-at-home mom, the fragmented day leaves me unable to accomplish anything, even replying emails or crochet.

I’ve been pumping according to my proposed schedule: middle of the night, before work, and at work, and the milk is flowing alright for now. My baby has been eating 2oz every 1.5 – 2 hours while I’m away, so I’ve limited myself to pumping only that much. The pumping hasn’t been too difficult until the past 1-2 weeks, when I’ve had times when I couldn’t pump even though the milk is there. On those days, I break into the freezer stash and try to pump extra at the next session to make up. Early on, I learned that the membrane on the pump needs to be good…I don’t know how to tell when it’s gone bad until I can’t pump properly with the same membrane multiple times (they have numbers on them so that you can keep track of the different ones). It doesn’t have to be torn to be less than effective. But I seem to also have a letdown issue now.

Making sure I only BF on weekends

While on maternity leave, I used to give a bottle when we go out on weekends because I didn’t feel comfortable breastfeeding in public. After going back to work, I forced myself to breastfeed in public because I wanted my baby to have access to all the milk she wants at least a couple of days a week. I worry that she is not eating enough while I am gone due to a preference for the boob.

The last couple of weekends, I’ve noticed that my boob feels very different at the end of the day. On weekends when I BF on demand, the boob is still at least partially filled at the end of the evening. But on working nights, I worry whether she wants another feeding because my boobs feel very empty.

6 weeks later, supply decreasing?

At work this week, I was talking to another pumping mother (we have a  common pumping room, and many of us seem to have a similar schedule), who told me her supply started dropping 6 weeks after she returned to work. With my recent pumping issues weighing on me, I’ve started to panic slightly, and decided to reconsider my pumping schedule. If I’m still filled on weekends, it means I am making enough milk, but something is wrong with my weekday schedule.

When I first started working part-time, the pumps before work and at work were just enough to take the edge off the engorgement. At some point I’m not sure when, I stopped feeling engorged, which is the right response from the body but I don’t want my boobs to stop making milk. Perhaps instead of pumping in the middle of the night, I should be focusing my pumping efforts on the morning pumps to make sure I drain my boobs sufficiently – meaning at least 3oz per session to match what baby eats, and possibly more. I’m pumping on the low end, and my colleagues tell me that their kids eat 10 oz in the same period (which is way more than 1.25oz per hour). I’m keeping the MOTN pump in case I have pumping issues in the morning.

Two days into the new schedule, things feel fine. I am pumping more than she eats, but I still have plenty of boob juice towards the end of the night. I’m wary that my supply will decrease as I continue to pump, so I am going to overpump and build up my stash with the leftovers. Let’s see how the next 2 weeks go.

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