Hi friends! Happy Tuesday!
I wanted to follow up the milk supply blog with a pumping blog. Lots of mommas out there with questions + I hope these posts help! I know one momma said she was going back to work this week, so I wanted to be sure to get this up! 🙂
Just like with breastfeeding, I’ve learned a lot with experience. The first time I ever used my pump, I had no idea what I was doing. I took it off (after about 1 minute) because nothing was coming out + I figured my boobs didn’t have any milk in them. Little did I know that there are two settings, one to stimulate milk (slow + gentle suction) + then another setting for after let down. I failed to read the instructions + it was during one of those middle of the night, feeding all night long newborn days…I was just trying to relieve the fullness. If this post helps you to not be as clueless as I was, I’ll be happy for you!
Our little babe is 4 months old today! When I went back to work about a month ago, I had around 1,000 oz stored up for Mr. Max + I did not drive myself crazy with pumping.
When Max was a very demanding little newborn, I would set clean bottles at all the feeding stations. At that point my boobs would spray milk out of them when he was done feeding. I would catch the spray + then hand express (aka milk myself) until each boob was less full. A lot of times this would get me several ounces! All of this really added up!
I started using the pump to be able to leave my little babe. Around about a month I would pump so that daddy would have a bottle ready incase Max was hungry while I was gone.
Also: it took me a while to get used to breastfeeding in public. So, don’t get discouraged if your first couple attempts don’t go so well! I had a hard time keeping the cover over us + I was spraying him in the face with breastmilk to start. Sometimes I felt more at ease if we just brought a bottle of breastmilk with us. Now, Max + I can rock a public nursing session. It came with more experience + I bought the Udder Covers Breast Feeding Nursing Cover. This cover worked really well for us because it has a rigid neckline (aka it tents out), so that we could see each other during the nursing session.
So, when did I store up all this milk? When Max started sleeping more at night, I really started cruising. When I knew he wasn’t going to be up just two hours later, I could pump before I went to bed. In fact, it became necessary for my comfort. I remember the first time he slept 5.5 hours straight, I woke up in a soaking puddle of breast milk. I had no idea what happened, but then I saw the source was my big old right boob. I’ll never forget just throwing a towel over the puddle, so I could go back to sleep + deal with it at a better hour. haha.
I also started to pump after feeding him in the morning because my boobs had a lot of milk left in them. A morning + nighttime pump was all I did, just adding another one if I was leaving him or if my boobs were very full.
Now that I’m back at work, I pump once before my shift (after feeding him in the morning), twice during my 8 hour shift, and once at night. This whole time I’ve still continued to hand express breastmilk along the way, which has maybe aided in my production.
That’s a general overview for you guys + now I’ll dive into some specifics.
Tips to Pump Like a Pro
- Refrigerate parts between pumps to save time. I’ll be honest, my friend told me this tip a long time ago + I didn’t listen. I just wanted to make sure I was being as sanitary as possible for Mr. Maxwell. BUT, all the cleaning at night was driving me a little nuts. I decided to give it a try when another mom at work told me about it again. It works the same as properly cooling your expressed milk. It is safe + efficient! When I finally started doing this, it was life changing. You simply zip the shields + parts into a gallon size ziplock. Take them out for the next pumping session + go! Edit: Several mamas replied saying that the CDC has updated guidelines. I would head there to read their pumping sanitization guidelines and then make a choice. I’m going to keep on using this trick, especially at work. I’m just not going to go more than 2 pumps with the same parts and then clean them!
- Find the setting you can tolerate. Every woman is different, I put the pump on + crank it up to level 9 (the highest level). Which makes pumping more efficient + will get the most milk from your breasts.
- Practice before you go back to work. If you are going to head back to work, it is important to practice. I knew I would have two 15 minute breaks during my shift to pump. I practiced setting everything up, pumping, + storing the milk in 15 minutes…that was I knew I could do it when I was working. Edit: I would still highly recommend practicing. However, now I know the law states that breastfeeding women HAVE to be given enough time and I could’ve taken longer than 15 minutes. You can read more about knowing your breastfeeding rights in this post.
- Don’t stare at the time. Just like when you are running, it won’t go any faster buy staring at the pump time. At work, I usually take the time to send me husband a text + do something for the blog. The time passes SO quickly when I don’t look at the clock.
- Pack + stock at night. No matter how tired I am or how much I do not want to do it, I always sanitize + pack everything up for the next day at night. I know I don’t want to get up any earlier than I already have to for work + by being prepared, I’m less likely to forget something. I will typically put the expressed milk into the freezer every night, just to keep things in our refrigerator organized.
- Have an entire spare parts set at work. One time I burst into tears because it was a REALLY busy shift and I forgot my shields. Ugh! I was new in the clinic too, so I felt like a crazy person. Now I will always have an ENTIRE extra set of EVERYTHING. Parts, shields, bottles, caps. These live in my locker and I still bring supplies everyday, only using the backups if necessary. No more tears shed over forgotten parts for this mama!
- Figure out where you are going to do it. I pump in an abandoned little office. It isn’t glamorous, but it is private (sometimes I’ll pump with a coworker working on a project, but I don’t care) + readily available. Your place of work should make accommodations for you.
- Have the right attitude. It’s pretty cool that we have pumps + can be away from our babies to work or go on a girl’s weekend. You’ll find some mommas loathe the pump + tell you about it. A friend told me her coworkers kept saying things like, “Oh you won’t last too long, you’ll get tired of it.” I just smile + nod. Don’t let someone’s negativity impact your pumping path mommas! A lot of my friends tell me their partners will sanitize the pumping supplies to lessen the load on them. Just find what works best for you + what is most sustainable!
What you Need:
- A pump. Drew + I bought ours ourselves because our insurance had a $200 reimbursement if I completed the 9 months + more program (essentially going to every prenatal appointment + completing a few phone calls with a care coordinator). We ended up buying our pump through Amazon (I highly recommend starting an Amazon Registry- Create an Amazon Baby Registry) because it was a $100 cheaper than Babies “R” Us for the same pump! I have the Medela Freestyle Breast Pump. I love that I don’t have to plug it in + can easily recommend it!
- Extra parts. Once you decide on your pump, you for sure need extra parts (if you go with Medela pump find them here: Medela Freestyle Spare Parts Kit). The extra parts come in very handy + you can rest assured that you’ll always have what you need.
- Hands free bra. You need this. I love the Simple Wishes Hands-Free Breastpump Bra because it’s adjustable, so it can always be snug + get the job done. I also tried the Medela one, but that did not fit me well.
- Sanitization supplies. I soak the pump parts in a bowl with dish soap, rinse them with cold water, + then put them in a Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags. I just find this to be the fastest way to do it! I then put them on the Boon Grass and Stem and Twig to dry. Edit: All my pumping parts go in the dishwasher now. I still will use the steam bags if I need something cleaned fast and the dishwasher isn’t full.
- 8 oz bottles. If you are blessed with a good milk supply, make sure you get the Medela Breastmilk Collection Storage Feeding Bottle with Lids . I knew I needed them when milk started pouring down my leg one day. I looked down at my pumping + it was because I had overflowed the 5 oz bottle. 8 oz bottles make life easier because I can consolidate the milk into one bottle. When I was hand expressing after most feeding sessions, I would pour the few ounces into an 8 oz bottle, so we didn’t have SO many bottles in the refrigerator + before you know it you’ll babe will be drinking more than 5 oz.
- Storage bags. These are what I use: Medela Pump and Save Breast Milk Bags. After each day, I transfer the expressed milk into the bags + put them in our freezer. When there is enough to fill up a gallon zip lock, I then take it downstairs to our deep freezer (we purchased the Igloo Chest Freezer exclusively for breastmilk because our freezer was getting out of control). *A few mamas have recommended that the Target bags store flatter if you are concerned about space and not wanting to invest in a freezer.
- The correct breast shield size. When I was at the lactation consultant, she told me I needed bigger shields. There are several warning signs that your shields might be the wrong size. The following is from the Medela website (go there if you need more info). Reasons to try a new size: Does your nipple rub the tunnel sides to the point of causing discomfort? Do you see excessive areola being pulled into the tunnel? Do you see any redness? Is your nipple or areola turning white? Do you feel unexpressed milk after breast milk pumping? If you are answering yes to these, you likely are not using the right size shield.
On work days, I’m able to keep up with what he drinks at day care + then still store milk because of the morning + night pump. I’ve donated frozen milk to a friend with low supply + plan to keep storing away to make sure our growing babe has as much breast milk as he demands.
One of the readers told me she donates her extra breastmilk to little babes in the NICU! : “I donate to a milk bank in California. They send me a cooler that I package up with my frozen breastmilk and FedEx picks it up at our house for overnight delivery. I just felt better about donating to babies in the NICU who desperately need the benefits of breastmilk.” How awesome! Way to go momma! If you have extra, spread the wealth.
I hope you picked up a tip or two from this blog! If you do purchase from one of the Amazon clicks, I do make a small commission. So a huge thank to you!