It's not an uncommon occurrence for moms who have no issues breastfeeding to find themselves struggling with the breast pump. Pumping, like nursing, takes practice. But if you've tried and tried and still have little success, there may be some reasons you're not getting much milk when you pump.
When my son was born, he had a difficult time latching. After a difficult birth and lots of tears (his and mine) we asked our nurse for formula because, frankly, I was too tired, young, and inexperienced to continue to try to get him on the breast. I decided that I would pump so that even if he was bottle fed, it would be breast milk. The first time I pumped I got more than four ounces of milk. Then, progressively, my pump would express less until I was pumping for two hours for one ounce of milk.
I was disheartened. Pumping was hard, breastfeeding was hard, and I was pooped. Sadly, I gave up trying to pump and my milk completely dried up a short time later. Years have passed and now I wonder if maybe my issues were not about my milk supply, but related to problems with my breast pump or hormones. I didn't know back then that there were women who nursed like champs but only produced a small amount of milk when pumping.
If you have the same issue, here are some reasons you may not be getting enough milk out of your pump that have nothing to do with you.
1. Worn Out Motor
According to Kelly Mom most breast pumps are designed for about a year of typical use (15 to 20 pumping sessions per week). After that point the motor may not function as well which will affect the pump’s milk output and your milk supply. This is one of the reasons it is not recommended to purchase a second-hand breast pump.
2. Parts Need To Be Replaced
According to the Spectra website some parts of a breast pump such as the valve, and the backflow protector should be replaced every three months in order to keep your breast pump in top shape.
3. You Own The Wrong Kind Of Pump
The kind of pump you should get depends on how often you will be pumping. According to Breastfeeding In Combat Boots, pumps range from occasional use to hospital grade. If you have the wrong kind of pump for your needs, you might not be able to express enough milk.
4. You're Using The Wrong Size Breast Shield
For most breast pumps, the standard shield size is 24 mm, however, the Madela website noted that many women benefit from a different size breast shield. If you are using the wrong size, it can cause pain, redness, clogged ducts, and even issues with milk output. There is a chart on the site that will help you determine if you are using the correct breast shield size.