Monday, July 15, 2013

Pumping Update (Pumping Tips), Plugged Ducts, Just Another Day at the Office

This happened to me last week:

Time for me to pump at my desk! I close my door, hoist up my shirt, and hook myself up. I turn the suction on high, and then go about my business until....FIRE ALARM! Crap. I look around my office and think to myself, is it 100% necessary for me to leave? It's probably just a drill...But then I come to realization that, even though we all know breast milk is a magical unicorn, Ben would probably rather have his mom alive. So just on the off chance that an actual fire was occurring, I quickly unhooked myself from the pump and throw the ounces in the fridge. Just as I am walking out my office door, the damn alarm stops, and I see people coming back. I hear strains of people saying it was some sort of building problem, but not a fire. Fine. I hadn't gotten very far into my pumping, so I go back into my office, and hook myself back up. Not two minutes later, the alarm goes off again. I called it a day. Just part of the glam life of pumping at work.

Just a reminder of the cuteness that I am pumping for!

So as a pumping update - I am currently pumping about 14-15 oz a day at work. I pumping four times at approximately 8:15am, 10:45am, 1:45pm, and 4:00pm. I get anywhere from 3 to 5 ounces total a pump. I also pump at night before bed, and I get 2-3 oz. At daycare, Ben is eating anywhere from 18-22oz generally. On Mondays, I don't need to supplement from the freezer, because I have extra that I have pumped from the weekend. The rest of the time I usually need to supplement a small amount from the freezer. I still need to do an inventory of how much frozen milk I have left. I am going to go ahead and pick out a brand of formula, and buy a can to have on standby so that I am not taken off guard when I run out. I figure, I am never more than one bottle behind, so if/when it comes time, I will just make a bottle of formula to go with his other bottles at daycare and tell them to give him that one last. If he doesn't end up needing it, great. If he does, then it's there for him.

Let's revisit the tips I tried to up my supply and whether they helped:

  • Relaxxxxing - It has probably helped that I am in a groove now and not as stressed out. I have a nice set up at work, with my pump always out and a fridge under my desk.

  • Fenugreek Supplements - This was not a magical aide for me. But also, there were no terrible side effects, so I am still taking occasionally on the off chance that it is helping.
  • Warm Gel Pads - I don't use these anymore, too much trouble.
  • Higher Suction - I think this helps a ton. The way my pump (I have a Medela Pump in Style Advanced) works is that for two minutes it does fast suction, then it does slower suction. I start at a higher suction than I used to, and then after the two minutes, I turn it up even higher. It is actually sort of uncomfortable. I would NOT recommend this for moms in the first month or so of breastfeeding/pumping. You would kill your nips. This is just for those who have been doing it for a while. Fool around with your suction, it might help.
  • Replaced Membranes - Not sure if this helped or not. But I am going to keep up with it.
  • Water. I still drink it. I do think it makes a slight difference if you are not hydrated.
  • Oatmeal - You're crazy if you think I would give up the oatmeal cookies. If I have to have my nipples sucked at by miniature tornadoes, I sure as hell am going to have my oatmeal cookie and whether it's helping or not.
  • Massage. Okay, so I have noticed that it helps to press the shields into my breasts while pumping. It definitely makes more come out. This is super annoying because I like to have my hands free. So I just do this occasionally throughout and feel very put out about it. It is kind of my last ditch effort.
Something that I suffered from a bit has been a plugged milk duct due to a milk blister. Sorry if you are grossed out by the following, but I feel like it neeeeeeeds to be discussed for no other reason than I should not have to live with this knowledge on my own. So basically, a plugged milk duct happens when something blocks the duct (duh) and there is a back up. This means you feel like you have a hard golf ball in your breast. It is uncomfortable and can lead to mastitis (infection). The blockage can occur anywhere in the duct (I think) or from a milk blister. A milk blister is on the nipple when one of the little milk holes (my term) gets blocked my an incredibly thin layer of skin, and it looks like a tiny white spot. I have the milk blister.

Basically, you want to unblock the duct as soon as possible to get the milk out. At first, I just used heat (either from a heating pad or gel pad) and then nursed/pumped as much as possible to dislodge the clog. This worked eventually, but would take FOREV, and I would stress out about it the whole time. When I figured out that my clog was due to a milk blister, I did this maneuver: I sterilized a safety pin with alcohol and poked the little milk blister with the pointy end. Then I squeezed out the milk or nursed. Sweet sweet relief. This is my go to now. By the way, Dan almost passed out when I told him what I was doing.

So there you go! Happy Monday! And because it needs to be said one last time - milk blister.


  1. This is from the friend, Wendy, who had the necklace that I admired and copied: Okay-1. love the necklace. 2. I had a few milk blisters. They suck 3. Have you tried getting different size "horns" for your pump? Didn't even know they had them until the 4th child, but made a huge difference!

  2. I did try a different size horn, but so glad you mentioned it because I should have put that in the post! The horns I use are the "large" 27 mm size. I think the default size is the "medium" 24mm size. I tried the medium size again to see if that would help. It didn't. Thinking about maybe trying the x-tra large size, just to make sure. We'll see!