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10 Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Pumping

This post contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission off of any purchase, but it does not affect your price or my opinion!

 

I love pumping! Said no breastfeeding mom ever. Ok seriously, breast pumps ARE super helpful. Whether it’s because you’re having problems nursing, need to increase supply, or stock up on your freezer stash for when you go back to work, breast pumps are a great tool! That being said, it still pretty much sucks to sit hooked up to the pump for 20 to 30 minutes.

Unfortunately, a lot LCs aren’t very knowledgeable about pumping, so the only information I got at the hospital was how to hook up the pump and to pump for 15 minutes every 3 hours. While I was exclusively pumping for the first 8 weeks I was lucky enough to join a local Facebook group with fellow moms who were exclusively pumping. Through them and the blogs of other pumping moms online, I learned a lot of great tips!

  1. Get a good, NEW electric double pump. I used a hand-me-down 1998 PIS for a while before getting a new Medela PIS, and the difference was incredible. Most of the time your insurance company or Medicaid will completely cover an electric pump. This time around I’m using the Spectra S2, and I absolutely love it
  2. Pump for at LEAST 20 minutes. I’ve heard so many people say they’ve been told what I was: 15 minutes every 3 hours. You’ll never get your supply up that way. A lot of people will tell you to pump 5 minutes after empty, but that’s not possible. This drove me crazy!! I would pump, and pump, and PUMP, but there was STILL milk coming out.  This is something I didn’t know until recently, but your breast continues to make milk as you pump or nurse. So pump until your milk SLOWS, but at least 20-30 minutes.
  3. There are lots of ways to increase your supply. The main recommendations are to put baby to the breast as much as possible if you are nursing, power pumping, drinking enough water, and eating enough calories. A lot of women also swear by eating or drinking certain things like oatmeal, oatmeal cookies, lactation cookies, red and blue Gatorade, flaxseed meal, brewer’s yeast, and dark beer. There are also companies who have developed supplements specifically for breastfeeding like Milky Mama!
  4. COCONUT OIL. Is there anything this stuff isn’t good for? But seriously use it to lubricate the flanges and to moisturizer your nipples in between nursing/pumping. It also helps prevent thrush since it’s a natural antibacterial! SCORE! Just make sure you get the UNrefined cold pressed stuff!
  5. Massage, massage, MASSAGE! This will not only help stimulate milk production, but also help empty the breast. There’s lots of different techniques you can use, so try them and figure out what works best for you! Check out Breast massage & The Marmet Technique
  6. If you’re pumping regularly (more than once a day every day) replace your pump parts every six weeks. This includes flanges, membranes, and tubing. These parts can get small cracks that will affect your output. You can order the whole set for the Medela here and the Spectra here.
  7. Get a hands free pumping bra. Or make one! Just take an old sports bra and cut wholes in it. Viola! Pump bra 🙂
  8. Keep your pump parts in the fridge in an air tight container in between pumps during the day. That way you only have to wash and sanitize once a day!! (If you have a preemie, pump parts must be washed and sterilized after every use.)
  9. Use heat while pumping. These are specifically designed to be used while breastfeeding or pumping!
  10. Set up a place in your home where you can get comfortable, watch Netflix and have everything you need to pump. I have my pump and all my necessary goodies under the side table in my living room. That way I don’t have to run around trying to find everything every time I pump.

Bonus: Pump in the car!! It’s a little tricky the first couple times, but once you get the hang of it it’s super easy and saves a lot of time!
Here are some GREAT resources that helped me!

http://www.lalecheleague.org
http://exclusivepumping.com

http://kellymom.com/mother2mother/exclusive-pumping/
Disclaimer: These tips are things that I have found work for me and my baby. Everyone is different and these may not work for you. Please use these tips at your own discretion and always consult your doctor if you have any questions!

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The Mommyhood

Breastfeeding is HARD

Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world.

What? Are you on crack?? I’m 99% sure whoever said this never actually breastfed a baby. Ok so maybe it IS the natural way for your body to feed your baby, but it definitely doesn’t come naturally to everyone. There’s a serious learning curve for mama AND baby. I’m sure a lot of people are thinking, “What’s so hard? You just stick your nipple in the baby’s mouth and the baby sucks!” HA.

HAHAHAHA!

Let me inform you, my woefully ignorant friend, if you do THAT your nipple will be SHREDDED TO PIECES. I talked to a mama who’s nipple had to grow back on one side due to a poor latch. You read that right, GROW BACK! The horror!!

It takes serious patience to get a good latch. Especially when your working with a tiny human who’s screaming because they’re STARVING (they think) and has no idea what you’re doing. I always think of it like trying to help an injured animal, who tries to eat your face off because it doesn’t know you’re trying to help.

Some people will even say that breastfeeding is EASY. These are people I’d like to punch in the throat. Engorgement, mastitis, thrush, cracked nipples, bleeding nipples, BLISTERS ON YOUR NIPPLES. What part of that sounds easy??!

Anyways, breastfeeding isn’t easy. Wether you nurse, pump, or a combination, it’s serious work.

My own breastfeeding journey started off pretty rocky, then got worse. B was born 3 weeks early and was on an IV and oxygen for the first 4 days. Because of his breathing problems I didn’t get to try to nurse until day 3. Being early and on the IV made him super sleepy and not interested in nursing AT ALL. Couple that with inverted nipples, C-Section pain, trying to nurse IN the nursery, AND two different lactation consultants telling me totally opposite things, I felt like we were doomed to fail.

 

Our first time trying to nurse

Thankfully I started pumping as soon as I got into the recovery room and my milk came in fairly fast. I wasn’t giving up on nursing though. I waddled my big swollen butt down to the nursery every 2 hours to try to nurse. By the third day I was exhausted, hurting, and miserable. A week later we were getting ready to leave the hospital. B was all snug in his new cars eat, everything was packed, and we were about to walk out the door when he got hungry. After being stuck in the hospital for a week I was beyond ready to get home with my baby, and I just couldn’t bring myself to take him back out and spend another hour trying to nurse. I broke down and gave him a bottle of milk I had pumped. He CHUGGED it down and immediately passed out. It was such a relief to see my baby happy and full! We kept trying to nurse for a few days after getting home, but eventually I ended up exclusively pumping.

I exclusively pumped for the first 8 weeks of my son’s life. I can tell you right now, it SUCKED.  I was pumping every 2-3 hours, and just getting enough to stay ahead of B by a few feedings. I started to feel like a complete failure. I felt like all I did was lay him down to cry while I tried desperately to pump enough milk for his next feeding. At around 8 weeks, my supply started to suffer because I stopped pumping as often. I was so close to giving up. I tried nursing again a few times, and while I could now get him to latch on, it hurt so bad I was almost in tears and could only stand to try it once a day.

I finally called and made an appointment with a pediatrician who specializes in lactation medicine (aka angel sent from heaven), and we went to see her the next day. It took her about 3 seconds to see that B had a severe posterior tongue tie. He literally couldn’t lift his tongue from the bottom of his mouth. One small clip and a pissed off scream later, I put B to my breast and nursed him without pain for the first time EVER.

 

Nursing after getting his tongue tie clipped

I had a whole new baby! We sat their and he nursed for about 20 minutes while I asked the angel doctor questions about nursing. Then we sat in her nursing room and he nursed on the other side, too! I couldn’t believe it. It was kind of bumpy at first as we both learned what we were doing, but after a few days we were exclusively nursing!!!

Just when I thought it was smooth sailing, BAM!!! We got thrush. Thrush is evil, plain and simple. Imagine your boobs being filled with hydrochloric acid, your nipples being sliced with jaded glass, and then letting a 2 month old suck on them. I just knew my boobs were going to fall off. We went back to our angel doctor who called in medicine for us both, and two weeks later we were finally on the mend.

Now I don’t want you to get the wrong idea here, there is a reason I’ve tried to hard to be able to nurse. It’s AMAZING. I know that I am truly blessed that I’m finally able to do it, because a lot of women can’t. I would go through all of this all over again for the chance to do this. My goal is to make it to a year breastfeeding!

If you’re breastfeeding, I strongly encourage you to joint your local La Leche League group on Facebook. I couldn’t have done this without all the support from the wonderful women in my area!  
PS: FED is best! No matter how that happens!