When I had my son I nursed him for about five days. Then my supply came in full force and it made it hard for him to latch without drowning him in my milk. The lactation consultant suggested I pump before I nursed him. After being told this I realized that I didn’t want to spend time pumping and then nursing him because to me personally, that just seemed like a ton of work to an already exhausted mama. I made the decision to exclusively pump, which I did for six months and then used my extreme stash of frozen breast milk for another month. For us, that’s what worked best.
For my second baby, I decided to give nursing another shot. The kid latched like a pro and had no problems whatsoever – until my supply came back full force again. Then the latching issues started like they did for my son. With a three year old at home, I didn’t want to spend what little energy I had pumping and nursing because emotionally I didn’t feel like I could do it. I decided that once again I’d pump this time around and it was the best choice not only for myself but for my family as well. With an extremely busy three year old and a newborn, my attention and time was needed quite frequently. I ended up pumping this time for 10 months until my supply completely diminished. Again, this is what worked best for my family.
Recently I was talking to my friend who is currently exclusively pumping for her daughter. Someone made the comment that pumping and nursing aren’t the same thing and my heart sunk for her. While you may not be doing the physical ask of nursing your baby, if you are pumping milk you are breastfeeding. So in honor of Breastfeeding Awareness month, I thought I’d share some of my tips for new moms or maybe moms that were in situations like myself and wanted to explore the option of exclusively pumping.
Here are some of the things that worked best for me during my pumping journey:
1. Stay Hydrated
There was a period where my supply dropped and I wasn’t producing as much milk. I thought my pumping days were going to be limited until I realized that I wasn’t drinking enough water. I started carrying my water bottle around with me everywhere I went and making sure I drank at least three full bottles a day. My supply increased and I was back up to milk machine status in no time. Aim for at least 90 oz of water a day if possible. My water bottle has a straw and I find that I drink way more water through a straw than with a normal water bottle opening.
2. Schedule Your Pumping Times
Obviously at the beginning you’ll need to pump more frequently because your baby will need more milk. Set times of the day to pump and stick to your schedule. During the first month I pumped every 4 hours. Once I had a great supply built up, I slowly decreased that amount to four times during the day and once at night. Then I dropped the night pump and pumped four times a day and so on. But what was easiest for me was to pump at times that either the baby would be sleeping, eating or when my husband was home so I didn’t have to pump and hold her at the same time. But find a schedule that works for you and stick to it.
3. Purchase a Hands Free Pumping Bra
If your pump is already a hands free pump — bonus for you! If not, I suggest splurging and buying a hands free bra or making one yourself. Just use an old sports bra and cut small holes out for you to slide the pump parts through while you pump. The hands free bra allowed me to pump and do other things at the same time like feed Lola the baby on her Boppy, answer emails or catch up on my Real Housewives without holding on to my pump parts.
4. Invest in Multiple Sets of Pumping Parts and Accessories
You know the saying,”The more the merrier,” right? This is where it is completely true. At the beginning when you are pumping so frequently it becomes a pain to have to wash your parts all the time. If you have at least three or four sets, you aren’t rushing to wash parts right before you pump because you will always have a set clean and ready to use.
5. Set a Goal for Yourself
Being able to see an end in site helped keep me motivated because pumping is a lot of work. I set goals for both of my kids to ease the impatience and frustration that occurred with my pumping routine. Start smalls and work your way through it. If you make it one month or one year – you did it and you should be proud of yourself!
But the saying “Fed is best” still rings true for any and all mothers. No matter what journey you choose, whether it be nursing or pumping or formula, it is your choice and we are so proud of you!
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