Helpful Information on Decreasing the Number of Pump Sessions in a Day
Pumping is based on supply and demand. These two variables change over the course of a mom’s breastfeeding journey. Things like your baby’s health and development affect the amount of milk your body will produce. Your overall wellness and nutrition will as well. With biological nursing, your baby directly communicates demand with your body. Then your body adjusts your breast milk supply based on that communication.
For pumping moms the pump is like a messenger, carrying the information about your baby’s breast milk demands. It’s up to us, our pumping schedules more specifically to relay the information to our bodies. With the pump, we have control over this demand and can pump more or less frequently, to manually control our breast milk supply. Dropping a pump session is one way to signal to your body to produce less milk.
When to Drop a Pump
It’s important to note here that when we talk about dropping a pump session, we are talking about decreasing the number of times that you pump over a 24 hour period. Dropping multiple sessions in this time frame can drastically affect your supply and is not recommended. Then when is basically up to you and depends on whether you are exclusively pumping or supplementing with the pump.
Supplementing with a Breast Pump
If you are supplementing with a pump, when you can drop a pump session is really up to your supply and your schedule. Pumping can be interchanged with a nursing session, so if your schedule changes and you are able to nurse more often, you can reduce your number of pumping sessions without a drop in your supply.
If you are established in a routine, and have a consistent milk supply, dropping a pump might not affect your supply negatively. If you try reducing a pump session and see too much of a drop in your supply, you can work to re-establish that session.
Mama Needs a Break
We won’t sugar coat it. Exclusively pumping is hard work. It’s very time consuming. It’s emotional. And while it’s totally worth it, sometimes it can be overwhelming. If you need a break for your mental health, try scaling back and see how it affects your supply. You may be able to reduce the number of times you pump during the day without damaging your supply to the point that you don’t have enough to feed your baby. Seek the guidance and counsel of a trained lactation professional if you are having a tough time and need to scale back.
When your baby is old enough to no longer need breast milk, or you are making the transition to a milk substitute, weaning should be a gradual process. Cutting out the pump or drastically reducing the number of pump sessions can lead to engorgement and other side effects such as clogged ducts and even mastitis.
How to Drop a Pump?
If you are weaning:
Simply remove a pump session. Select which pump session to drop by spacing out your pumps. This can help evenly decrease your milk production. You can simply cut out this session.
If You Are Not Weaning:
If you do not want your milk supply to dramatically decrease, you can try adding the number of minutes from the pump session that you are dropping to other pump sessions. This ensures that you will still be pumping the same amount of time, but with fewer actual pump sessions. You can make this transition gradually rather than all at once. Start by reducing the length of the pump session that you are trying to drop, and gradually increasing the amount of time you spend during other sessions. Another way you can do this is to gradually shift the times of the pump session you are dropping and the session either before or after it. This means you are slowly spacing out the sessions.
To help with pumping, and get the most out of every session, try adding a Breast Pump Cushion to your routine.