Milk - UofL Hospital
Author: TLN

Overcoming a Pump Slump

How to get through roadblocks in your breastfeeding journey

For working moms, pumping is oftentimes a double-edged sword. While it’s so awesome to provide milk for your baby when you are away changing the world, it can be isolating. While every mom faces unique challenges and milestones, there are days that can be really, well, frustrating. Maybe you don’t pump in one session as you normally do, or the drag of cleaning pump parts starts to get you down. This, my friend, is a pump slump.

The benefits of breastfeeding are so amazing, for both you and baby. By breastfeeding your child, you’re helping to boost their immune system, reduce the risk of SIDS and lower their chance of having diabetes and food allergies later in life. Breastfeeding also lowers your own risk of postpartum depression and breast cancer.

So before you throw in the towel, lean on your friends and family for support, and arm yourself with the resources to persevere. Read on to learn about the common pump slumps causes and how you can overcome them to pump on and reach your breastfeeding goals.

Slump Scenario #1 Mental Pump Slump

Society typically supports breastfeeding moms from birth to six months—and even that is being generous. After that, moms deal with judgy friends, coworkers and strangers. Some of your family members might even give you grief. “How long are you going to do that for?”  The point is, that it’s easy to hit a wall during your breastfeeding journey because of a lack of support. Even the World Health Organization states that “mothers and other caregivers require active support for establishing and sustaining appropriate breastfeeding practices.” Not only do you need help with that first latch, but you need encouragement and support throughout the rest of your journey.

What to do

Lean on the people in your life who do support your decision to breastfeed! It’s so important to surround yourself with positive people who want you to succeed, and other real moms who know what you’re going through. Find an accountability partner that will cheer you on and offer words of encouragement when you’re down. Create a group text with some of your mom friends and send messages of love and support to remind them of the breastfeeding queens they are! If you need motivation, don’t be shy to ask for a pep talk! After all, that’s what friends are for.

Slump Scenario #2: Adjusting to Work

Going back to work after maternity leave is a huge adjustment, especially if you’re trying to stick to a pumping schedule. You might be facing obstacles at work, whether that comes in the form of opinionated coworkers, unsympathetic employers or a less-than-ideal office layout. These challenges all make it difficult to feel empowered and comfortable with pumping in the workplace. Not to mention the additional stressors of juggling it all, while leaving your precious little one at home! (Not to mention the sheer exhaustion of raising a newborn). It’s a lot to handle, and it can be really overwhelming.

What to do

Be your own advocate. You have rights in the workplace as a working mother! If your boss if creating obstacles for you, talk to an HR representative or another supervisor to find a solution – they may provide a rental or extra pump for you to keep at the office eliminating carrying everything back and forth. Learn about your rights as a nursing mom in the workplace and the laws that protect your right to breastfeed and pump. for a complete guide on how to talk to your employer, and professional resources you can use to advocate for yourself. Remember, by speaking up, you might make it easier for a mother after you to get the privacy and resources she needs to pump at work. Remember this: when balancing the stress of working, pumping, and mothering, it’s vital that you take time to take care of yourself. Stop thinking of that yoga class as a luxury and make it a priority—start with one a week.

Slump Scenario #3: Fluctuating Supply

If you’re like most pumping moms, you measure every drop of pumped milk, to make sure you have enough to feed your baby each day. While a freezer stash is awesome as a backup, many moms are pumping each day to feed the baby the next day while they are away. If you notice a dip in your supply, it can be really discouraging. This is so totally normal! Oftentimes, these breast milk supply fluctuations happen during developmental milestones for baby, like when they cut a tooth, start solids, or become mobile. So while a few days of pumping under your “quota” can feel like the end of the world, it’s common and your supply will almost always come back if you power through.

What to do

Don’t give up! Stay hydrated by drinking a lot of green tea and water, then make it a point to nurse your baby as much as possible for a few days. If you’ve already introduced solids, think about reducing them for a few days so your baby can nurse like heck over the weekend to kick your supply back into high gear. For the first year of a baby’s life, milk should be the primary source of nutrition, so don’t feel bad about cutting solids for a few days!

The other cure for a pump slump could be to replace your accessories. Like with any other piece of equipment, pump parts start to wear down after a lot of use and cause a dip in your milk supply. Take a look at the flanges and tubing to make sure that there aren’t any tears. If there are, or if your parts are more than three months old, order new breast pump accessories through The Lactation Network.

Breastfeeding is an amazing way to bond with your baby and provide them with the nutrients to grow up healthy and strong. There will always be challenges, but by relying on your support network, you can overcome obstacles and reach the next milestone. For a consultation with a certified breastfeeding expert, contact The Lactation Network.