Night-time dilemma: To pump or not to pump?

Waking up engorged at night. To pump or not to pump?

#1 Pumping mom dilemma every single night: Should I sleep? Or should I pump?

Every mum's situation is unique and it is hard to say which is the right thing to do. We worry so much about milk supply, anxious about mastitis, and torn between wanting to sleep more and feeding our baby.

Baby is sleeping longer stretches in the night

You've worked so hard in the first few months to establish your milk supply. Now that you're producing enough to feed your baby, it's hard to just let go. 

"Recently my baby has been sleeping 5 to 6 hours a night. I don’t want to wake her up, but what about my milk supply? Do I have to pump? Is this how it will be forever?! I’m so tired and truly want to take advantage of her sleeping."

Team Sleep

If your daytime supply suffices, then you should be able to get away with cutting your night-time pumping session. Although night-time pumping is great because of our high prolactin levels (milk-making hormones), catching up on sleep is even more important for our mental health. 

However, if you experience a dip in your milk supply:

"My baby is 11 weeks old. She has been sleeping through the night for three weeks now. At first, I was still getting up to pump or waking her to keep my breast from being super engorged and uncomfortable. I'm now pumping once in the night (4-6 hour stretch) but my milk supply has now decreased during the day and my baby is not happy. My boobs feel way less full. She's not getting enough milk and I am having to use my frozen stash to help fill her up."

If you're afraid that missing a night-time pumping session may cause your milk supply to drop, you can make it up by nursing or pumping more in the day. 

A good pumping tip is to use Haakaa manual pump on your other boob when you're nursing your baby. When your baby has drained the first boob, use Haakaa on the drained boob to signal the body to produce more milk. Also, if you're still worried about your milk supply, you can add 15-minute pumping sessions in between your nursing sessions. 

Team Pump

"I’d really like to stop pumping at 11 pm and wait till 5 am to pump. It seems difficult to drop it because my breasts are so used to being pumped every 4 hours. Every time I’ve gone past 4 hours, they feel full and uncomfortable."

"Should I pump before I go to bed? Will this tell my body to produce extra milk? I'm already battling with oversupply."

Engorgement hurts. Your breasts are swollen, very hard, hot, and painful. The skin feels tight and swelling may go all the way to your armpit.

If you are engorged, you should not ignore it. Get up and hand express just enough to relieve the pressure. Or a more convenient way is to keep a manual pump on your nightstand. Relieve a little pressure but not too much- this way your body would know not to produce as much throughout the night.

Give yourself some time and your breasts will adjust to your baby's new schedule.

"But pumping is a bad idea. What if it increases my milk supply?"

As long as you're only pumping enough to relieve some pressure (instead of pumping until your breasts are drained), your body will know not to produce as much. Do this for 2-3 nights. Slowly, it will take longer for your breasts to be engorged and you can drag out the pumping session to a later time.  

I want to build a freezer stash

If you want to build a freezer stash so that your baby can still have breastmilk after you've stopped breastfeeding, I would keep pumping in the middle of the night. That way you'll keep your supply up and have extra milk in the freezer. Otherwise, your supply will regulate to your baby's natural feeding pattern. 

Pumping is hard work. Store all that milk you’ve worked so hard for in our eco-friendly milk storage bags.  We hope this article is helpful to all of you pumping mamas. You're doing such an incredible job xx

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