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IV-B. Survey of Pumping Successes


This article is from the Breast Pumps FAQ, by bweiss@cs.arizona.edu (Beth Weiss) with numerous contributions by others.

IV-B. Survey of Pumping Successes

Paula Burch took a survey and compiled these results. I'm including
in hopes that it will help choose a pump with which other women have
successfully pumped at work.

The people who responded to my poll on breastpumps must be wondering
what happened to the results. Sorry, it took a while to analyze.
This is the original poll:

>1. What kind of pump did you use?
> a. Large Medela (not Lactina, but the heavy cast-metal
> in clear acrylic one)
> b. Medela Lactina
> c. Nurture III
> d. inexpensive (<$100) electric pump
> e. battery-operated pump
> f. manual pump
> g. hand expression
>(If these categories don't fit, tell me so.)
>2. How long were you able (or have you been able so far) to express
>enough milk to meet your baby' needs without supplementary formula?
>Weeks? Months? Not at all?

There was so much data that came in!

The hypothesis I was testing was whether women who use inferior pumps
end up supplementing with formula earlier than women who use a better
pump. The reason for the hypothesis is that it seemed to me that those
I spoke to who used the heavy-duty Medela Classic seemed to be able to
do without supplementation longer than the ones I knew who were using
the small, cheap, and to some women, painful ones. Many women seem
surprised when they learn that my friend with the nine-month-old is
still pumping successfully.

I cut out all the answers such as "two months so far", so I could
average the numbers. Two months in this example would skew things
badly if that particular baby ends up without supplementation until 9
months of age!

a. Large Medela................avg 9.5 n=7
b. Medela Lactina..............avg 6.4 n=7
c. Nurture III.................avg 9 n=2**
d. inexpensive electric........avg 6.6 n=7
e. battery operated............avg 6.9 n=11
f. manual......................avg 9.6 n=8
g. hand expression.............avg 7 n=1**
** = not enough to consider significant, even without statistical testing


The large Medela and manual pumps are superior to anything else. I
expected the large Medela to win, but not the manual pumps. Are manual
pumps better, or is it only that only women naturally blessed with
high milk production and easy let-down use them? You decide. The
Lactina and smaller electric or battery-operated pumps are not as good
as either. (Six months looks like a fine average, but there were
plenty in there who had to give up at four weeks!)

Several women strongly agreed that the large Medela (not Lactina) was
essential to their success with pumping. Several other women disagreed
with the whole idea that brand matters. Make what you wish of this!

Other factors that are important in success of pumping, and
some miscellaneous notes:
(Some of these are much more important than one's choice of pump)

1. The day-care provider's committment to helping you breastfeed.

This is an odd one--it's not harder to use breastmilk than formula,
after all, even easier when you consider there's no mixing or
sterilizing for the day-care provider to do. (Other factors must enter
into unwillingness to support breastfeeding.) No matter how much you
pump at work during the day, it hurts your efforts if you get home
with full breasts, only to be told, "Oh, I just fed him." It's hard to
get as much at a feeding as the efficient baby could get for him or

2. Trouble with letdown

If you don't get a good letdown, you'll end up with sore nipples and
almost no milk pumped. This may mean tickling your nipples, thinking
lovingly of your baby, or whatever.

Many women can't find anyplace other than the ladies' restroom to
pump. That MUST reduce letdown, I think! Yuck. Employers ought to
provide a decent room, closet, or whatever for this, for those who
don't have offices.

3. How many feedings you have to pump for.

Three times a week is obviously much easier than five. My friend said,
early on, that she got 350 mls from pumping on Monday, but by Friday
that was down to 250 mls. The weekend, with frequent nursing, built
her supply back up every time.

4. Double pumping (both sides at once)

Which is more significant, cutting the time in half so you don't get
bored or have to hurry back to your work, or the increased prolactin
levels Medela claims that research shows? Could be either or both.
You can double-pump with either of the Medelas and the Nurture III,
and some women buy two MagMags so they can use one on each breast.

5. Having someone else pumping along with you.

It's easier to remain committed to something that people around you
think is normal.

6. Time to try pumping two or three times during the day, instead of
only at lunchtime.

Most women can pump only 4 to 6 ounces at a time, judging from my
mail. I've gotten up to eight, but 6 is more usual.

7. If you're on maternity leave (such as it is), going to go back to
work, but haven't gone yet, you should be pumping after feedings and
stockpiling what you get in the freezer. You'll be glad you did!

8. Gaskets!

If the gaskets get worn, your production will appear to be going
down--call the company to get new ones! (This was on a Nurture III.)

Someone added: I had to make sure I cleaned the gaskets directly with
undiluted dish-detergent. If I washed them with soapy water or diluted
the detergent in any way, they would not get clean enough. They would
stick to the bottle and not seal correctly and then I couldn't let down.
I had to put the detergent directly on the gaskets to get them clean
enough for me.

9. Note: costs vary dramatically for the same pump. For example, my
MagMag (which I hated) was $40 in the Right Start catalog. Someone
told me she paid $63.00 at Oh Baby in San Diego.

10. So how much milk do you get when you pump? The most interesting
part of this posting to anyone who has just started with this
"I seldom got more then 3-4 ounces at a time."
"My first son took 15 oz of expressed milk a day, my second, 18 oz."
"I always got the same 4-6 ounces."
"I was able to pump 4 oz. at a time when I started, and it was down to
about 1 oz. at a time when I stopped. "
"I was pumping about 8-14 oz a day towards the end."
"I've only been successful pumping about 6-9 oz at work. Total daily
amount: 12 oz. "
"I was pumping 8 oz a day (4-5 am, 4-5 pm) a day, I am now pumping 6 oz
a day, and usually freeze the extra 3 oz. [She sees her daughter at
lunchtime.] "
"I pumped about 8 ounces worth a day."
"I usually get about 8-10oz at work."
"...can only pump 8-10 oz at work."
"I get up to 8 ounces per meal `skipped'."

11. Far more important than being able to avoid supplementation is
whether your milk dries up due to not getting enough sucking and/or
pumping time in, so you can't nurse even when you're home. Many women
have success with supplementation. Fewer women find that breastfeeding
fails utterly soon after supplementation--fewer, but a sizable minority.
At that point, a two-week vacation might get things back to normal,
but who has vacation time left after being out sick for maternity
leave in a company that doesn't give maternity leave?

"....here's the executive summary of what I would tell someone who
wants to express at work:

* get support
* get educated
* if it's what you really want, don't give up"

Many thanks to: Marcie, Laura, Beth, Lyssa, Sherri, Sue, Chris, Mimi,
Charlene, Maureen, Debra, Joanne, Saki, Michele, Peggy, Vicki, Audrey,
Suzzanne, Lee, Charlotte, Alice, Anne, Diane, Kami, Betsy, Chris,
Kathleen, Kathie, Suzanne, Misty, Michael, Kate, Mary Jane, Sarah,
Joanne, Donna, Shirl, Anne, Barbara, and others (who didn't want their
colleagues to see their names on something as, um, intimate as this!


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