If you’re a new mom, you know that breast milk is the perfect food for babies as it provides all the essential nutrients that they need to grow and thrive. Pumping this liquid gold is an excellent (and only!) option for moms who have to return to the workplace or who can’t or don’t wish to breastfeed their babies directly. While pumping can be a convenient and efficient way to provide breast milk for your baby, there are times when the milk continues to flow even after 30 minutes of pumping. In this article, we will discuss what to do if milk is still flowing after 30 minutes of pumping and how to prevent it from happening.
Why is milk still flowing after 30 minutes of pumping?
When you pump breast milk, you stimulate the milk ducts in your breasts to release milk. For the most part, you should be able to empty your breasts while pumping in about 15-20 minutes. If the milk is still flowing after 30 minutes of pumping, it could be due to various reasons such as an improper pump setting, a damaged breast pump, or, in rare instances, a medical condition.
Improper Pump Setting – Main reason milk is still flowing after 30 minutes of pumping
One of the most common reasons for milk to continue flowing after 30 minutes of pumping is an improper breast pump setting. If the pump setting is too low, it may not be strong enough to empty the breasts completely. A breast pump works by creating a vacuum that mimics the suction and release of a baby’s mouth during breastfeeding. As the suction continues, the milk ducts in the breast respond to the stimulation by releasing more milk.
If you still have milk flowing after 30 minutes of pumping, consider increasing the suction strength on your pump. The vacuum suction created by your pump may need to be stronger in order to more efficiently empty your breasts.
Do keep in mind that if the pump setting is too high, it can cause pain and discomfort, leading to a decrease in milk production. Increase the suction strength slowly–not all in one pump session!
Related article: Breasts Not Responding to Pump Anymore? Try This.
Damaged Breast Pump
Another reason for milk to continue flowing after 30 minutes of pumping could be a damaged breast pump. If the breast pump is not working properly, it may not be able to empty the breasts completely, leading to milk continuing to flow even after 30 minutes of pumping. If your breast pump has valves and membranes, or other parts that need be replaced regularly (like FlexTubes in the Willow breast pump), make sure that they are in proper working order. They may have slight tears or cracks that you can’t see, so if it’s been a while since you have replaced your pump parts, consider doing so. See our article How Often To Replace Pump Parts – Everything You Need to Know for more information on what pump parts to replace when.
Related article: Breast Pump Not Working? Here’s 5 Troubleshooting Tips to Try.
In some cases, milk continuing to flow after 30 minutes of pumping could be due to a medical condition such as a breast infection or a hormonal imbalance. If you are experiencing symptoms such as breast pain, fever, or redness, reach out to your healthcare provider. They can provide treatment plans or medication to clear up any medical issues that be causing the issue.
While this is rare, some women may have a condition called hyperlactation. This causes an overproduction of breast milk and can lead to frequent leaking, engorgement, clogged milk ducts, and breastfeeding pain. Treatment for this can vary depending on the individual, but usually involves nursing or pumping from only one side per session, or certain medications. Reach out to your healthcare provider if you think you may be dealing with this.
Related article: When To Stop Sending Breast Milk to Daycare
Milk Still Flowing After 30 Minutes of Pumping – Prevention Steps
Now that we’ve explained some reasons why your milk may still be flowing after 30 minutes of pumping, we’ll turn to some steps for preventing this from happening. You may need to try a few of the tactics listed below. Feel free to experiment to see what works best for you.
Use a Good Quality Breast Pump
A good quality breast pump can help to empty your breasts efficiently and prevent milk from continuing to flow after 30 minutes of pumping. Make sure your breast pump has adjustable suction levels and that the motor isn’t making any abnormal sounds. If you’re using a hand me down breast pump or a breast pump from a previous pregnancy, consider ordering a new breast pump. If you are in the US, you are entitled to a free breast pump with every child you have. See our article How to Get a Free Breast Pump Through Insurance for information on how to quickly and easily order one for free.
Related article: Shaking Breast Milk – Does It Really Damage It?
Use the Correct Pump Settings
As we mentioned previously, it’s important to use the correct settings for your breast pump. Start with a low suction level and gradually increase the suction until you reach a comfortable level. Make sure the speed of the pump is not too fast or too slow. Pumping may be uncomfortable when you initially increase the suction to a strong level, but your breasts will likely acclimate to the stronger suction after a few pump sessions. If not, revert back to a more moderate suction level.
Make sure, too, that you’ve replaced whatever pump parts need to be replaced. Some breast pump parts need to be replaced every 2-3 months, depending on how often you pump. Additionally, if you are using the wrong size pump flange, your breast pump may not be emptying your breasts efficiently thus causing milk to still flow after 30 minutes of pumping. If you’ve never measured yourself for the right flange size or you have no idea what this means exactly, check out our guide on Determining Your Correct Flange Size (So Pumping Doesn’t Hurt!).
Related article: One Breast Producing Less Milk Than The Other? Mine, Too!
Pumping frequently can help to maintain your milk supply and prevent milk from building up in your breasts. If you are pumping at work or are exclusively pumping, make sure to pump every 2-3 hours. You need to pump as frequently as your baby eats. This will prevent your breasts from becoming engorged and full of milk.
Related article: Pros and Cons of Power Pumping – Everything You Need to Know
Massage Your Breasts
Massaging your breasts before and during pumping can help to stimulate your milk ducts and increase milk flow. Use gentle circular motions with your fingertips to massage your breasts toward your nipple. You can also try the very much loved La Vie Lactation Massager (available on Amazon). Massage, either with your hands or a massager, will help move the milk out of your breast. Hands on pumping has been proven to increase the amount of milk a mom pumps. Massaging your breasts while you pump also helps to remove all of the milk from your breasts, thereby emptying them until it’s time to pump again.
Use Heat Therapy
Similar to massaging your breasts, applying heat before pumping can help to stimulate milk flow. You can use a warm towel or a heating pad to apply heat to your breasts before and during pumping. You can even try to massage your breasts using a warm compress. Again, this helps to encourage all of the milk in your breast to flow out.
Related article: Accidentally Went 6 Hours Without Breastfeeding? Don’t Panic!
Milk still flowing after 30 minutes of pumping? Catch it.
If your problem is that you are leaking breast milk after pumping, you may try wearing a breast shell in your pumping bra. There are several “milk catchers” on the market today. They slip in your bra and rest against your breast (similar to a breast pad) to catch any leaked milk. Our favorites are these Babebay Breast Shells available on Amazon.
To wrap up this article, if your breast milk is still flowing after 30 minutes of pumping, it could be due to an improper pump setting, a damaged breast pump, or even a medical condition. Pumping sessions should, ideally, only take 15-20 minutes to empty your breasts of milk. In the event that you do still have milk flowing after 30 minutes of pumping, try using a good quality breast pump, use the correct pump settings, pump frequently, massage your breasts, or use heat therapy to prevent this from occurring. As always, reach out to your medical provider if these steps don’t work for you.
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