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Please explain how boobs work (trying to balance feeding and pumping)

(7 Posts)
chocciechip Sun 01-Feb-15 10:38:16

DS is EBF on demand, and is now 3 months old. I am starting to express so I can (hopefully) give him the occasional bottle of EBM.

I don't understand how milk production works, wrt timing when I express. Can someone help?

To explain: This is what happened last night with DS's feeding.

Right side
6.30pm - 7 mins
7.00pm - 10mins (offered same side because first feed was so short, he fell asleep so didn't offer left)

Left side
8.15pm - 6 mins
11.45pm - 11 mins ( fell asleep so didn't offer right)

He slept through. I woke up with left breast feeling OK, but right breast engorged. I expressed enough from the right side to reduce engorgement and make it easier for him to latch on, then and I fed him at 6.45am for 7 mins (right side) and he fell back to sleep.

I then fully expressed from my left side (right side felt like it still had milk in it). I didn't get very much out of my left breast at all, and I usually don't have problems expressing. When DS woke again I fed him for 10mins, again from the right side, at 9.15am.

He still feeds every 2hours or so through the day.

I am assuming that since he fed from right side, and i expressed from left at the same time, the next feed would be from the left side (because pumping isn't as as efficient as feeding?)

What I can't figure out, is if my left breast did not feel like it had much milk, and I couldn't express much after it had about 6hours rest overnight, how will it be ready to give him his normal feed within 2 hours?

How much time does it take for boobs to be ready to feed again after they've been completely emptied? I know it is demand led, but pumping has to slot in somewhere among that.

Bellyrub1980 Sun 01-Feb-15 12:37:55

I'm not an expert but I think our boobs are just constantly producing milk. Even when they're being emptied they are simultaneously producing milk.

And since they work on a supply and demand basis, the more they are drained, the more milk you'll produce. So I wouldn't worry about it too much.

I also have a 3 month old baby and also thinking about expressing so my other half or DM can feed her once a day. I was just going to drain both breasts once a day, probably in the morning when I think my supply is at its best and then store it.

Bellyrub1980 Sun 01-Feb-15 12:39:53

Sorry, not sure that even answers your question!

Hopefully someone in the know will come along soon!

SoMuchForSubtlety Sun 01-Feb-15 12:50:01

Boobs don't get "empty" - the more milk you take out the more they make. The key is prolactin which is the hormone that stimulates milk production - you produce it mostly at night (which is why expressing is usually easier in the morning) and the levels are maintained by the baby suckling.

This article might help?

nutmegandginger Sun 01-Feb-15 19:22:36

Yes, as far as I understand it, breasts just produce milk according to demand. I've often had to feed my dd soon after pumping because she's suddenly decided she's hungry (I swear she gets jealous of the pump and does it deliberately!) and there's never been a problem with her getting enough milk. Bear in mind babies are much more efficient than pumps - your baby will be able to get milk out even if the pump can't.

I've found expressing a feed a day has been a life-saver. It's helped me catch up on sleep and also given me some freedom. I started doing it when dd was about 6 weeks old. I just fit it in whever it suits me (normally quickest in the morning).

Hatteras Mon 02-Feb-15 05:55:15

Just to add as well that some babies are very efficient (fast!) feeders. My 3 month old dd often only feeds from each side for about 5 minutes each. It used to really bother me that the feeds were so short and I couldn't believe it was enough for her, but apparently that is ok, baby will let you know if he/she is still hungry!

jessplussomeonenew Mon 02-Feb-15 08:15:12

I think there's a mix of producing on demand and building up stores, and everyone has different storage capacity (nothing to do with breast size) so you need to experiment and find out what works for you. I tend to start with whichever breast feels heavier but play it by ear after that. One thing that can make a huge difference when pumping is how strongly let down gets triggered - I often watch a slideshow of his tiny baby pictures to get the flow going if it's being slow!

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