Advice about Pumping

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Difficult pumping at work

Feb 2002

I went back to work part time when my daughter was four months old; she's now six months old. I only work 3 days (non consecutive), but they tend to be long days, and I am away from her for about 10 hours at a time. My goal was to continue to exclusively breast feed her, and I've been pumping at work. I have a really great set up for pumping. During the first few weeks I was getting decent amounts, but I've noticed over the past couple of weeks that my milk supply has diminished, and I'm almost at the point of having to supplement with formula - which I was hoping to avoid. I'm trying to pump more, but pumping more than 3 times during the day is simply not feasible; I already spend more than an hour a day pumping, and more time at the pump will mean even longer days at work. On the days I'm home with her my milk seems sufficient for her. Also, she has begun to wake up more frequently at night to nurse, which probably doesn't help milk production. All the books I'm reading tell me that pumping at work is doable, it alsmot sounds easy! And this has certainly been the experience of many women I know, which leaves me even more frustrated. I'm now wondering how come this works for everyone else, what's wrong with me. I also feel like I'm failing my baby. Any magic tricks out there for increasing and maintaining milk supply while pumping? Thanks!

Two great websites with info on breastfeeding in general, and that address pumping probs, are and Also, my understanding is that increased nursing at night will stimulate more milk production, not less. a breastfeeding mom

I've also been having problems with milk supply since returning to work. Part of the problem is that my now six month old baby needs more milk. I've been taking fenugreek capsules (available at organic food stores) as well as a Korean dried kelp (consumed in soup). Both increase my milk production but I still need to supplement with formula. Our baby is starting to take solids so I am preparing myself for the coming months as we make the emotional and physical transition from breast milk to solids. Madeline (and Isabella)

My lactation consultant recommended Fenugreek food supplement to maintain good milk production. My friend was recommended alcohol-free beer for the same purpose. I took Fenugreek all through the time I pumped at work. My situation was similar to yours, in that I worked a lot (up to 70 hrs per week), and had to pump 3 times. It worked though - I nursed my ''baby'' until 27 months (only pumped until 12). Maria

I had nursing problems early on and had to use a pump to keep up my milk production. Problem is that you are hooked up to cold hard plastic, not a warm little baby whom you are crazy in love with. Some people take a picture of their little nursling to work and look at it as they pump. This can sometimes get your breasts in the mood! Your train of thought definitely affects how much milk you can pump. It also makes a difference which brand and style of pump you use. Since you are pumping at work you need a good workhorse, no pun intended. Medela makes a good pump, can't recall the name., but Birth and Bonding Family Center rents it. Their number is 527-2121. As far as nursing during the night, the more you nurse the more milk you should produce, so that is a good thing. I have a wonderful lactation consultant that you can talk to. She can give you support over the phone. Her name is Janaki Costello and her number is 525-1155. Mother's milk is by far superior to any formula out there, so I hope that you are able to work it out. Drink lots of water! Good luck! marianne

If you are unable to pump more than three times a day at work, perhaps you should try pumping additional times during the day not at work. Milk production by the body is at it's highest overnight and in morning hours. Could you get up a little earlier and pump before work as well as your three times during the day? Your child nursing more at night should not effect the amount of milk you are able to pump during the day. By six months your body is usually making milk in response to the demand, so the more nursing, the more milk is made. However, pumps are never going to be as effective as a baby at triggering milk production so you won't get as much from the pump as the baby. By pumping more frequently over a longer period of time can you get your pumping supply up. When I was a pumping mom I joined an email group through . It was very supportive, full of great advice and knowledgeable women. There are several LC's affiliated with the list as well as moms who pump so you will get lots of support through them if you choose to join. Give it a try.

Pumping is a learned art, and it isn't that easy for ALOT of moms, so don't feel inadequate. I have so totally been there - at school full-time two days a week, and I've just given up pumping within the last month as it had become an exercise in futility. BUT, my boy is nearly one, so here are some tips that helped me get that far.

Part-time pumping on non-consecutive days is the most difficult to pull off, as the longer you nurse/pump the better your body becomes at responding efficiently to your baby - and at distinguishing baby from pump. Guess which one your body prefers! So, as you've noted, your supply *with* baby is just fine, but letting down to the pump becomes problematic.

Here is a great strategy, that can help solve two problems at once: first thing each morning, for the first nursing of the day, set yourself, baby, and pump up on the couch, with the baby nursing on one side (football hold works great for this) and the pump on the other. Do this _every_ morning, and you can store milk to be used when you are at work. You will get the let-down for the baby, and supply is usually highest in the a.m., so you will probably be pleasantly surprised at how much milk you get this way. Don't worry, your daughter will still get plenty of milk from nursing only on one side. Also, this may help to ''recondition'' your body to respond to the pump.

But without a regular, day-after-day, same-times-each-day pumping schedule, your pumping success may continue to be erratic. If you can, pump even when you are with her, at the same times you would pump at work. If this is too much of a pain (I never managed it!), just stick to those extra pumpings each morning. That will probably get you enough milk, and as your daughter is probably going to start solids soon, you can supplement if need be with solids, rather than formula.

Also, alot of women have great success with ''supply boosters''. Here are a few: - Water, make sure you are drinking enough of it. - Fenugreek capsules, from the health food store, 2-3 caps, 2-3 times a day, increasing until your sweat and urine smells like fenugreek/fake maple syrup (its what they use in Log Cabin for flavoring), up to a max of ~12 caps/day. - Oatmeal, 1/3 cup raw, cooked any way you like. - ''More Milk Plus'' herbal tincture, they have it at Whole Foods.

In general, your supply is governed by the frequency with which your breasts are drained of milk, so actually night-nursing is GOOD for your supply, if not for your beauty-rest! I've never tried to limit night-nursing, for this among other reasons. I just try to stay as asleep as possible (don't turn on lights, don't look at clock, don't count how many times it has been, etc.) and to be relaxed about it.

I stuck it out pumping until my son was nearly 11 months old, when I was really getting minimal amounts. But, he is still nursing from 10-12 or more times in a 24 hour period, when I am not away from him. He now takes small amounts of milk from a glass with meals (like, 1-2 ounces), but otherwise I am still supplying all of his fluids, and he is plently well-hydrated. When I'm at school he takes goat's milk in a bottle. So don't worry, if you can stick it out for a few more months, your pumping days will be happily behind you. And you'll still have a great nursing relationship!

A fabulous source for great information is, particularly the message boards. I highly recommend the ''General Breastfeeding Support'' and the ''Pumping and Working Outside the Home'' boards - the site is very well trafficked, and the information from fellow moms tends to be really practical and no-nonsense.

Best of luck! Debbi

I understand your frustration around having enough milk pumped to be able to use breast milk exclusively when you are at work. I pumped for a year (working partime at 20 hours a week). Towards the second half of the year, I definitely scraped by with just enough. I actually did try to supplement with formula a couple of times but my girl would have none of that. Here are a couple of tips that worked for me. I did my best to pump also on my non-working days by pumping right after she nursed and ''siphoning off'' the leftovers. There actually was a little milk left. My daughter got what she needed and wasn't left hungry. I also pumped at night before I went to sleep, almost every night. It was definitely some work but I was able to pull it off. I also never found that doing this caused me to have less milk for her when she actually nursed, which was often in the middle of the night for her whole first year.

In terms of taking so much time at work, I also felt frustrated with this and eventually decided it didn't feel realistic to me to pump 3 times during the work day.

Anyway, everyone's situation will be different and what works for one may not work for another. I really admire your commitment to breastfeeding as a working mother and if for some reason you are not able to use breastmilk exclusively, your daughter will benefit greatly from the first six months she did receive only that. Also, even if she does get some formula from now on, she will still benefit greatly from whatever breastmilk she gets in the future. Good luck! a working mom

I too have had difficulty pumping at work, and from the research I have done, the solutions are different for everyone. I notice that when I get tense and/or nervous about not pumping enough, I tend to pump less, so I practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing and focusing on my baby to help. It also helps me to stay well hydrated, keep a bottle of water on my desk at all times, and sometimes to drink a cup of hot liquid before pumping (hot chocolate, herbal tea, etc...). Keeping my office warm, oddly enough, also helps tremendously, and eating a lot of dairy products seems to help. I have also heard that getting enough rest helps a lot, but with a fussy 4 month old, I haven't had a chance to try that one!

I also wanted to mention that the fact your baby wakes up more at night probably helps your milk production. From what I've read, the more the baby feeds, the more milk you make. Bottom line -- don't feel bad, I think a lot of people have problems, try to relax, and if you end up supplementing with formula remember you haven't failed. You've tried your best and that's the important thing!

First of all, don't feel bad - you are doing a wonderful thing for your baby. Even a little breast milk is better than none at all. I had the same trouble, and almost lost my milk supply. After much research (books, La Leche League), here is what I suggest based on what happened to me:

1) Nurse as often as possible when you are with your baby. The more you nurse, the more milk you will make. It may not SEEM like it, but the fact that she wants to nurse at night is improving your milk supply. Stimulation from the baby's mouth is necessary for you to continue to produce milk. I pumped exclusively for a few weeks and almost lost my milk supply. It is back now, but I nurse her once in the morning (both breasts) and two to three times in the evening. I now punp once per day at work. If I worked 10 hours a day, I would pump two or three times, as you do.

2) Get thyself to a health food store and buy Fenugreek capsules (I found them at Berkeley Bowl, but have seen them at other stores for a better price). Fenugreek is an herbal supplement that is safe for nursing mothers. It is used to flavor pancake syrup and it will make your perspiration smell like maple! It REALLY works. Take 2-3 capsules three times a day. It increased my supply immediately, but sometimes takes couple of days.

3) Call La Leche League for advice when you need it. It is free. You can call to ask questions and they don't require you to go to meetings. You will be refered to an experiened nursing mother in your area who can answer questions and give you detailed, precise information about what to do. Breastfeeding can be very mysterious to us first-timers, even if we've been doing it for a few months. They've heard it all before and know all the tricks.

4) I HIGHLY recommend a book called The Nursing Mother's Companion, by Kathleen Huggins' And Mariette Hartigan. My daughter is 10 months old, and I still refer to it. It explains everything about how to maintain your milk supply. It breaks breasfeeding down by your baby's age, fully explains problems that can occur while breastfeeding, and it has a guide to drugs that you can and can't take. It is like have a lactation consultant on-call 24 hours per day. Christina

I totally sympathize! I tried pumping at work and found that my supply dwindled as the months went by. It was demoralizing to pump 12oz and have my daughter drink 22oz! Luckily I had a freezer full of frozen backstock and didn't have to start supplementing with formula right away. I tried drinking lots of extra water and that ''mother's milk'' tea, and I would pump while I was breastfeeding at home. My daughter had a nursing strike at 8 months and again at 10 months, when I decided not to persist. I really think that she wasn't getting enough breastmilk and felt frustrated. My goal had been to breastfeed until she was at least a year old and I felt bad that we quit. On the other hand, I hated the whole pumping thing and breast feeding contributed to my overall exhaustion--it was great to have my body, time and energy back! I was lucky to have a private office with a door, a good pump, a flexible schedule, and a fridge. Sometimes bodies just won't cooperate!

please please please all this guilt about nothing.... What is it, a Berkeley obsession that either you breastfeed for life or you are a failure? I went back to work full time when my daughter was 5 months old, I could not pump to save my life (no matter how long, no matter how often, no matter how fancy the pump.) Also, let's face it, no matter how considerate your work environment is, you cannot just take off for 20 minutes stretches every 2/3 hours... So I breastfed my daughter every morning, evenings (nights...) and weekends and supplemented with formula. She is now 2 years old, happy healthy strong and -horror! horror!- SHE did not care about breastfeeding at 11 mos.! Stop reading the books, listening to ''breast-freaks'', and being frustrated, there is nothing wrong with you.

It is very common to have a pumping slump at 6 months. Most babies at that age are just starting to really notice the world around them, and thus nurse less attentively; plus, this is the common age of starting solids, which can also lead to less nursing. You also said, ''Also, she has begun to wake up more frequently at night to nurse, which probably doesn't help milk production.'' In fact, that is a *great* boost to milk production--the more she nurses, the more milk you produce.

The main problem with pumping outputs is that the pump is not nearly as good of a stimulus for your breasts to produce milk. This, coupled with a 6-month slump, can send your production into a nose dive. A friend said to me, ''You can either drive yourself crazy, or you can supplement a little.'' She chose to supplement; I chose to 'drive myself crazy.' I discovered many, many hints for boosting production.

This bulletin board post has a lot of great suggestions: (btw, the Working & Pumping board on Parents Place is excellent.)

It is often helpful to pump in the morning or late at night. I pumped on one side while nursing on the other. (For this, I bought an Avent Isis pump--quiet and pretty easy to do one-handed.)

When I was just emerging from my slump, I compiled a list of hints (some will duplicate those in the above link). Some things may be out of date, or it may read a bit odd, but hopefully, something(s) there will help you out:

(I also started drinking fenugreek tea--smells like maple syrup but just tastes slightly herby. It did seem to help, too.)

Best of luck, and be sure to give yourself a pat on the back for getting this far. Jennie

After four months off with both babies, I pumped at work for eight months with my daughter, and am still pumping for my son (7 months old.) If you're pumping three times in 10 hours, you're really trying, and you should give yourself big credit! Pumping at work is feasible, but it can be difficult. Don't let those books bully you into underrating your effort!

Some suggestions:
1. Dring lots of water. I find it to be especially important to drink alot in the mornings, so there's something to pump during the day. This really helps my milk production.
2. While it's no fun, if she's nursing at night, she's getting breastmilk, maybe even to make up for what you can't pump during the day. I don't understand why you think this doesn't help production. Nursing, at night or any time, does increase production.
3. Try to (get your caretaker to) feed your baby food during the day. If you're feeding her dinner or breakfast, for example, switch to lunch. That way she's getting her non-breast milk nutrition when you're gone.
4. Do you have an top quality pump? This can really help. You might try renting a hospital grade pump for a week, to see if it's really your milk supply or just your pump.

I'm not a LLL person or a lactation consultant, but if you just want to talk to another pumping mother, feel free to contact me. Karen

When my son was 5 months old I had to pump at least three times a day to leave him adequate supply of milk next day. I work every day but part time. I didn't want to introduce formula, so after talking to his pediatrician we started him on solids. The only problem was that usually doctors recommend to start introducing solids with cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. In my situation I could not pump that much, and my baby hated (really hated :) ) cereal mixed with formula, so we ended up with mixing rice cereal with apple and it worked just fine. He is now 8 months old and eats solids twice a day with the babysitter. Natasha

I also pumped for a year while working. There is a very busy, very informative e-mail group called pumpingmoms on Yahoo E-groups (they have a website here: as well) which will be of some help. The main suggestions that I got from them were as follows: Fluids, Oatmeal, Herbal Supplements (fenugreek and blessed thistle in large quantity), Pump more frequently. One way to do this more quickly is to have multiple sets of bottles/horns and the like, Make sure you have a really good pump

Some things to consider; -if your baby is eating solids, you won't be making as much milk. -If your child is at daycare you can load them up with solids there, and save the breast feeding for at home. My baby had one ~six ounce bottle of breast milk at daycare and most of her solids -Add a nighttime feeding (not great for sleep, but if you can manage it you'll feel better)

And the main thing to remember, is that any milk you can provide is a great thing for the baby. A former pumping mom

I wanted to address your feelings of being a failure bcs you are having trouble producing enough milk via breast pump at work. I don't think it is at all true that it is easy to pump while you are working - at least it sure wasn't easy for me. I lasted exactly one week, because just like you I was spending an hour pumping and any more time on the pump would have simply meant a longer than ten-hour workday! I heard tales of women who could pump while they talked on the phone etc. - not me, I needed both hands and all my concentration to do it. plus there is setting up the equipment, washing it, putting it away, storing the milk etc etc. It is HARD. I don't think it works for ''everyone'' and I don't think you should feel badly if it's not working for you. For me, I chose to keep working and stopped pumping; it just was not worth the effort. You can, in fact, nurse at night and give formula during the day - your production will adjust to the schedule. And personally, I think your baby will be fine. But, I am not a nursing fanatic, and I'm sure you will hear plenty of ''hang in there''s to counteract my views.

Here's my experience after nursing two children and pumping at work (in variously comfortable or uncomfortable surroundings). For me, milk production went down dramatically at six months. Baby is eating more solids, needs less milk, and doesn't stimulate milk production as much. They're more distractable and pull off more frequently. It seemed to get more concentrated too, less of the watery stuff and more of the cream. I really wanted to exclusively nurse for as long as possible b/c I have asthma and allergies, and this was the best (probably only) thing I could do to prevent my kids getting those conditions. What I did was try to pump on weekends, pump one side while nursing the other, and store in smaller containers to avoid waste. I also did a lot better with the more expensive Medela ''Lactina'' model (in the ugly blue cases) than the Medela ''Pump in Style.'' While pumping, I tried to do something completely unrelated so that I didn't focus too much anxiety on milk production (which depresses expression). E-mailing was a great distraction, and yes, you can do hands free pumping! I tucked the shields inside my nursing bra and once the suction was established, could use my hands. The funny thing was, my right side (smaller breast) always did better than the other. Every time. Don't ask me why.

Eventually, I decided to give myself a break and ''allow'' myself to use formula to supplement. I felt myself so anxious over milk supply at the end of the day that I would get annoyed if the day care provider was thawing a bottle that might get wasted later. They didn't like to let her cry if she was hungry in the last 20 minutes until I showed up, which I could understand and appreciate. I definitely think supplementing with formula is ok. My second child, who got a lot more formula than her older sister, has no signs of allergies or asthma. Her older sister who also got supplemented with formula has some slight allergies, but no asthma. I very successfully nursed on demand while I was there and used bottles of formula (then milk later) when I wasn't until the kids were each 18 months old. Pumping is not easy and not fun, and I enjoyed nursing a lot more when I let go of the all or nothing mentality. Good luck!

Try not to feel frustrated, and CERTAINLY do not feel like you are failing your baby. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old and I breastfed both for over a year while working 3 1/2 days/week and pumping. I have many friends who also have worked and pumped, and I don't know anyone who did not run into the problem you are describing. I had more trouble with my first baby than my second and had to supplement some with formula. I too felt terrible about it at first, but that is really ridiculous when you think about it. Your baby will still be getting tons of breast milk every week and just a little bit of formula. I personally think our bodies know the difference between a baby and a breast pump and as we become more efficient milk producers (only letting down when needed, etc), it makes sense we'd get less while pumping. Everyone says baby gets more out of you than any pump. I found the different amount I'd get pumping twice versus three times was negligible so eventually relaxed and accepted it was best for everyone to not stress about it. You are doing the best for your child by continuing to breastfeed her when you can and pumping in a way that is reasonable. Now do the best for you and don't worry about supplementing. --Jennifer

Eat, eat, eat and drink lots of water ! I pumped at work from when my baby was 3 months to 7 months old and found I had plenty of milk pumping only twice a day. However, I had to eat and drink somewhat beyond my appetite and thirst. That is, I had to be sure to have a hearty breakfast and lunch, as well as nutritious snacks and a large bottle of water at my desk. That way, I had plenty of milk to pump and enough for my baby when I came home. On days that I forgot to eat or drink enough, I had significantly less milk. Interestingly also, when I decided to cut down on pumping at work to only once a day, I still produced about the same amount of milk as from two pumpings; so for me it wasn't the number of times pumping that determined my milk supply, it was really how much and well I had eaten and drunk that day.

I understand how you would like to give your baby exclusively breast milk for as long as possible, but don't stress about it so much that it overtakes your life and interferes with your enjoyment of your baby! I had a very difficult time pumping at work, and tried to also pump at home, as many people have suggested for you to increase supply. I found that spending so much time pumping, or thinking about pumping, was just too stressful. I can't tell you how much better, and more relaxed, I felt once I let go of the pumping and just supplemented with formula during my work hours. Formula is not poison, and my baby is growing, healthy, and happy. I am more relaxed, and she is able to breastfeed when we are together. I'd say that our quality of life has improved, and that I am able to be a more attentive and joyful mother. There is such pressure, especially in the Bay area, to do everything perfectly, and a certain way, whether it be breastfeeding, cosleeping, or whatever. If pumping had worked for me, then I certainly would have continued. However, it didn't, even after much effort, and I do not feel guilty about my decisions. Good luck! pump-free and happy

Hi - You aren't alone! Pumping at work is very hard work! Many will probably refer you to the pumping moms listserv: Like many, I found the volume of email it generates overwhelming, but there are a lot of good tips and good support on it.

In my experience, being away from my baby about 9 1/2 hours a day 4 days a week, pumping twice a day at work was not enough. I nursed him in person at lunch every day AND still had to pump at home in the evening and extra on weekends to get enough milk for him. And I used Mothers Milk tea which seemed to help a little, but most important was to get enough fluids, rest, and calories. I found my milk supply went up and down, but having several bottles stocked up in the freezer got us through the down spells. Good luck! - Glad to have pumped, glad to be done!

Keeping breastmilk cold at work

July 2002

I've been pumping at work for about 3 months now, keeping the milk in the refrigerator there and bringing it home with a blue ice pack for the 25-30 minute commute. The problem is, my office is moving in about 3 weeks. Our new location will not have a freezer nor will I have access to one. Our current location has nearby restaurants where I can borrow ice for the milk when I forget the pack. The new location has restaurants a few blocks away, but I'd rather not take the time every day to walk to them unless I have to. Is there such a thing as a cold pack that lasts 10 hours? Do I have to rent a freezer? Could I rent one small enough to fit under my desk? And, most importantly, is it worth it for the pitifully small (about 2 ozs) of milk I can get in a good day? My baby is 7 months and gets mostly formula when I'm not with him. Thanks for any suggestions.

When you mentioned that your stash comes to about 3 ounces a day you answered your own question.. In your position I'd just stop commuting with milk. YOUR comfort and quality of life is as important as that 3 oz of milk, especially now that your baby is 7 months. I went to 14 months with my first baby nursing before and after work and on weekends, and just not stressing about the daytime being formula. Good luck. Heather

If you have a good insulated bag with blue ice packs, your milk should be fine (maybe unless you work in a foundry!) Breastmilk can be left at room temp. for about 5-6 hours without spoiling, so if you are able to keep it cool, it shouldn't spoil. Wendy

Do you have a fridge, but no freezer? I don't use the freezer for my 3 ice packs. I just freeze them at home and then leave them in the zippered insulated compartment of my pump in style during the 8+ hour day, and they have always stayed cold enough to keep the milk cold for my 45 minute-1 hour commute home. Of course this assumes you have a refrigerator to store the milk and get the milk cold after you pump it; i don't think my ice packs would be able to do that too. June W.

When did you stop pumping?

June 2002

I have two related (I think) questions for all nursing, working, pumping mothers. Firstly, how old was your baby when you stopped pumping at work? Secondly, did you continue to nurse when you were at home and if so, how well did your supply keep up? Thanks!

When to end pumping depends greatly on the demands your job makes of you - with my daughter (now 2), I pumped twice a day and nursed the rest of the time until she was 7 mo; I then stopped pumping (she got formula for those feedings) and just nursed in the morning and evening, and then stopped nursing altogether at 10 mo. With my son (now 4 mo), I went back to work after only 2.5 months and my job had gotten much more intense - so I decided to stop pumping after about a month back at work, and now I just nurse when he wakes up in the morning, and then again in the evening and once in the middle of the night (i.e., he's not quite sleeping through...). Both times I had no problems at all with my supply - it was a bit uncomfortable when I dropped the daytime pumpings (one at a time over 2 weeks), but the body adjusts to whatever schedule you settle into - it's amazing. Katherine

I stopped pumping at work after one year, but I still nurse my daughter. She is 14 months old, and she nurses as soon as I get home from work, once before bedtime, and again if she wakes up at night. If she doesn't wake up to nurse, she'll nurse as soon as she wakes up, but I usually have to bring it to her attention. She is always eager to nurse as soon as I get home. I only nurse about 3-4 times a day. I was concerned that I'd dry up because of infrequent nursing, but my supply has adjusted perfectly to her demand. I hope this helps, and I hope your transition is as easy as mine was. Christina

I went back to work when my son was 7 months old and pumped for another 5 months, but was unable to pump enough for all of my son's needs while he was in daycare, so we supplemented w/ formula. When my son was about 1, I stopped pumping entirely because I wasn't getting much milk. However, I did not stop nursing. Instead, I nursed my son in the mornings and nights & weekend days -- basically, whenever I was home. While Mondays were sometimes a bit uncomfortable because my supply increased in response to the weekend demand, it was not long before my body adjusted to the schedule, and my son was able to nurse whenever he wanted (which was a lot). He was also eating & drinking soy milk a lot at the time, so breast milk was not his exclusive form of nutrition. I continued to nurse him while still working until he was 2.5. Hope this helps. CJ

I ended pumping when my baby was 6 months (after 2 1/2 mo of pumping at work). It happened by accident when I forgot to do it a couple of times when I got really busy. I had already been supplementing formula since she needed more than I was able to pump. When I realized I wouldn't spring a leak at work and she seemed satisfied with morning and night nursing when I was home, I stopped pumping altogether. I seemed to produce enough milk to satisfy her. She decided she was done with nursing totally on her own at 8 months. She just seemed far more interested in moving around and checking everything else out while she was drinking which was much easier to do with a bottle than being attached to me. I didn't have any problems with engorgement or pain when she stopped. It was sooner than I expected but she is healthy, very large and has a huge appetite for formula and table foods (refuses baby food now too) so I feel okay about it. Nicole

I stopped pumping when my daughter was about 10 months old. I knew it was time to stop because my supply was dwindling and each pumping session would get me only 2 oz. total. I tried to keep her in breastmilk by pumping before I went to bed at night, and again, it was about 2 oz at most. (I was also drowning in mother's milk tea to help my supply.) I was just getting so tired from staying up later, and frustrated with how little I was able to produce. It stopped seeming worth it, so I stopped. I continued to nurse her when I was with her, but we supplemented with formula when I was away. We continued like that until 13 months, when she self-weaned. Sherri

Hi there My daughter is 16 months old and I went back to work full time when she was 4 months old and have been pumping until about 2 weeks ago. The reason? She has lost interest in the bottle during the day and won't take milk from the sippy cup. Therefore my husband doesn't need the milk during the day. She nurses a lot in the evening and in the morning and I haven't found milk production to be a problem. It is still enough for her for those times. Julie

My son is 13 months and I am still pumping for him. I was planning on stopping when he turned a year but he refused cows milk so I a stuck until he will take it without mixing it will MM. I think it depends on your situation. My son would not take formula so again I was stuck. If you can pump for a year I think that would be great. Heck it is great if you can pump for as long as you can or want to. I still nurse my son at home. And to keep my supply up I nurse right before I leave for daycare and right when we get home. And then of course exclusively on the weekends. Please feel free to email me directly if you have any questions. Good Luck Joelle

I had to return to work/school when my baby was 2 months old. I pumped until he was 8 months old. Unfortunately because he got comfortable with eating from a bottle while away from me, he actally stopped nursing at about 6 months. I continued to pump and tried to nurse him when I was home, but it was a major effort. Just before I stopped pumping he began nursing again. Once I stopped pumping I just nursed him in the morning and the evening for about 3 weeks and my supply was ample for those two feedings. My milk never dried up until I weaned him just before he was 9 months old. I think as long as I was consistent with the feedings, my milk was always available. As soon as I began to wean, my milk was gone in about 5 days. I miss nursing my baby, but I don't miss pumping at all! Good Luck! anon

First, congratulations on being able to work and nurse! For our daughter, our firstborn, I didn't stop pumping until around 15 months. Milk supply dropped but she continued nursing 4 times a day. And by the way, I had a huge burst of energy when I stopped the pumping at work! For our son who is now 15 months old, I just couldn't find the time to pump consistently, and stopped at 10 months. Milk supply dropped considerably and we needed daytime formula. I continue to nurse him 4 times a day with a very low milk supply and I believe he'll be weaned much earlier than my daughter. I have no idea from your message how old your baby is, but if your baby is less than six month old, be prepared for a big drop in supply, and take the transition slowly to prevent engorgement and/or mastitis. Diane

I continued pumping until my son was about 10 months (I am in at work three days a week). My supply did taper off some after that, but I continued nursing during the days I was at home, and seemed to have enough milk to keep him satisfied. But I did have to supplement with formula when he was at daycare, of course. It wasn't until I went out of town for several days, when he was about 11 1/2 months old, that I really lost my milk supply -- even though I pumped when I was gone. After that, I nursed him once a day, in the morning; but when he started wanting a bottle in addition, at about 12 1/2 months, I figured I just didn't have enough milk any more, and weaned him -- without any protest from him. Karen

Well, obviously it's an individual decision, but I can tell you what I did. I went back to work when my older son was 3 months old. I pumped for him at work until he was a year old, at which point he took cow's milk bottles and I continued to nurse him morning, evening and weekends until he was about 15 months old. As to my milk supply, well, it began to dwindle when he was about 7-8 months old. I started out pumping 20+ oz. per day during an 8-hour work day (usually 3x per day), and by the time I stopped, I was pumping more like 12 oz. per day, so that we had to supplement with some formula. The pump just didn't stimulate production like a baby does. And after I stopped pumping, my body concluded that I was all done, and my milk supply continued to wane, so that by the time my son was 14-15 months, there really wasn't much there. One day he just didn't nurse again, which was a fairly painless way to wean, although I wish I had known that the night before was going to be the last hurrah. Anyway, that's one woman's tale. I'm now pumping again for Son #2, but he's just now 6 months, so I can't yet say if history will repeat itself. I don't intend to pump past 12 months, though, since I can't say that it's my favorite activity. Wendy

Hi, Bodies respond in different ways but... I went back to work full time -I was gone 10 hours/day- when my daughter was 4.5 months old, I pumped for only one month as pumping for me was very unproductive and frustrating. I continued to breastfeed mornings before I went to work, in the evening (sometime at night but not often) and during weekends until she was 11 months. My milk supply kept up just fine, my daughter drank formula during the day and started solids at 7 mos. Everybody was, and is, happy and healthy silvia

With my daughter, now three, I went back to work after six months and pumped about 3 times per day. However, due to my erratic work schedule, I found I couldn't keep up with demand and added one bottle of formula per day at 7 1/2 months. This continued until about 12 months when the pumping became too difficult to fit into my schedule. I gradually stopped pumping, going to all formula during the weekday (because of allergies, we waited to go to cows milk until 14 months), but continued to nurse my daughter once in the morning and once at night and full time on weekends. By that time she was eating a lot of food, so breastmilk was more of a ''snack'' and supply was not an issue at all. She was also becoming less interested in nursing at this time (because she couldn't look around) and self-weaned at 13 months. Now I have a 7 1/2 month old son, who is still getting just pumped breast milk when I am away. However, he is already becoming difficult to nurse because he would just rather be crawling! There is a group you could join on Yahoo! called pumpmoms that has a lot of advice on pumping for work and other reasons. Stephanie

I pumped twice a day at work until my son was 7 1/2 months old. It was at this time that we both got a bit tired of the situation, even though we had been very successful at nursing prior to this. He wanted nothing to do with nursing during the day anymore, too many interesting things to do and look at -- so I had to pump twice on weekends even when I was with him all day ! Also, he began to sleep longer through much of the night (although still very unpredictably and rather erratically) but -- yikes, I couldn't because I had so much milk that I was in pain and would have to get up to pump at 3 am even though he was sleeping until 5 or 6 am. He was also getting teeth and starting to bite. So, while many moms might have ''solved'' these problems another way (and you can read about them a lot in the newsletters about moms who breastfeed for years), I decided to try to do what one of my friends did. She successfully cut down on pumping at work gradually at about 8 or 9 months until she was only breastfeeding her 10-month old before bed and in the morning. The baby had formula during the day. They were very happy with this twice-a-day nursing until the baby weaned herself at 12 months. I thought this sounded great ! I took about a month to cut down gradually on pumping at work, from twice a day to once a day, to zero times a day. I found for me, however, that it was either feast or famine -- I produced a whole lot of milk or not quite enough. My son was getting a bit fussy before bedtime, and it was hard for me to tell if it was because he was tired and didn't want to be held in one place for nursing or because he wasn't getting enough milk. At about 9 months, we switched over entirely to formula. It was a very easy transition for him to make, not so easy for me, but, in retrospect, I think it was good timing for the two of us. And, despite my fears that nothing would get him to sleep like nursing, he went to sleep just fine after weaning, too ! If you are trying to figure out which type of nurser you might be -- milk on demand like my friend or just a lot of milk all the time that drops off without constant nursing like me: Note that I always produced milk all the time -- I would always feel a let down of milk every two hours or so, whether I thought about my baby or not (well, maybe I was thinking about him all the time ?) or whether I heard another baby cry or not, so perhaps that was why my body didn't do so well at extended nursing on demand when the demand only came twice a day. KB

Don't know if this will be helpful, since I stopped pumping when we moved and at that time I temporarily stopped working. Our son was 18 months old then. I went back to work 9 months later, when he was 2.25. When I was pumping at work, I did continue to nurse at home. My supply did keep up. I nursed on one side only at night, letting the other breast fill up at night and pumped that one out first thing in the morning. That helped keep my bottled milk supply up. Nursing when I got home, on my days off and at night seemed to keep my breast milk supply up. Susan

My son is 19 months old. I quit pumping when he was 13 months old. At that point, he was eating lots of solids and drinking lots of water. He never really took to a bottle. He'd get his ''mama's milk'' from a sippy cup instead. Around his first birthday, I would come to pick him up from daycare to find that he'd not taken one of his bottles. Since I really hated pumping, I gladly took that as a sign that I could stop. I was already down to two pumping sessions a day, so I dropped one session and then the other over the course of about two weeks and never looked back.

I haven't really noticed an impact on my son's and my nursing relationship. I quit pumping 5 months ago and he's still avidly nursing. During the work week, we nurse first thing in the morning, when I see him after work, before bed, and, occasionally, during the night. We nurse a whole lot during the weekend.

I think the key to keeping up your supply is to nurse ''as usual'' whenever you are together. I have friends whose milk supply dried up shortly after they stopped pumping at work, but they tended not to nurse during the day on the weekends ''so Baby wouldn't get used to nursing and miss it during the week.'' If you're thinking about weaning soon, taking this route might be a good way to go.

Good luck! Grace

Dear Pumping Mom, Since I was a pumping mom at work and I'm still nursing at home, I'll share with you my experience. Sofia was 10 months when I stopped pumping at work. I returned to work when she was 3 months old. I work part time so I leave my home at 6:15 (I feed her before I leave) and I'm home by 12:30 for her afternoon nursing snack. When Sofia was younger, I pumped at work around 9ish. Now, I am cutting back her breast milk feedings because she is eating more solids. My supply is keeping up quit nicely. I am not too full all the time but I have enough milk to feed her 3-4 times a day (once in the morning around 6ish, once in the afternoon around 1ish and sometimes at around 3ish-but that one is really short-and once right before bed time around 7ish. If you'd like to chat more about this, send me an email and we'll talk. It's the greatest feeling to hold your child in your arms and provide for them. Glad to be a nursing mom