There are so many big decisions that have to be made during pregnancy, and how to feed the baby is probably one of the first ones that get answered. Are you going to breastfeed, formula feed, or are you going to be exclusively pumping breast milk for the little one?
Your doctor will probably ask you if you know how you are going to feed your baby on your very first visit! Its never too early to start thinking about how you are going to feed the little one.
Many new moms have their hearts set on breastfeeding, but this doesn’t always work out for many reasons: some babies refuse to latch, some moms have to head back to work, sometimes mom’s milk doesn’t come in right away, etc.
An equally awesome alternative to breastfeeding, is to exclusively pump breast milk. There are many advantages to exclusively pumping, but those ideas are for another post.
I am a mother of two and ended up exclusively pumping breast milk for both children. I have been pumping every day for TWO YEARS straight.
Yes, you read that right. I started exclusively pumping a few weeks after my first child was born, because my stubborn son refused to latch! When my son was only 5 months old, I got pregnant with my daughter, and I continued to pump for my son until my daughter was born.
Once my daughter was born, I breastfed her for the first 3 months of her life (while pumping between feedings). One day she decided that she did not want to latch anymore. In a wave of frustration I decided to pump and give her a bottle. She took the bottle like a champion, and took the longest nap she had ever taken in her short life.
I decided to switch from breastfeeding to exclusively pumping, and I am still going strong!
Pumping has just become a natural part of my everyday life, but the long journey of pumping has not been easy. Over the years I have learned many helpful tips to make exclusively pumping much easier, and I decided to share what I have learned with you.
Here are 15 tips for exclusively pumping breast milk to make your life easier.
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1. Get A Good Pump
The pump that you purchase is going to be your best friend. It is going to go everywhere with you. You will probably spend more time with this pump than some of your family members!
Invest in a good pump, and you will pump a larger quantity. Breast milk is liquid gold, and you will want as much of it as possible. You will not regret this. I highly recommend purchasing a Medela Pump. The Medela Pump is of very high quality, and will make your exclusively pumping journey much easier.
You want to make sure you are emptying your breasts each and every time you pump to avoid clogged milk ducts, and having a great pump can be helpful with this.
2. Invest In A Hands Free Pump
I did not purchase a hands free breast pump until my second child was born, but it has made my life tremendously easier.
Pumping is difficult because you are trapped in one spot for 15-20 minutes (sometimes longer) at a time. Investing in a hands free pump allows you to continue your day without missing a beat. This has made pumping while looking after a toddler and baby much more manageable.
3. Buy Back Up Parts For Your Pump
Having a piece of plastic crack or rubber break on your pump is bound to happen. Save yourself the headache and buy back up parts for your pump.
There is nothing worse than having to pump and not being able to; It’s like an itch that you cannot scratch.
4. Buy A Breastfeeding Cover
If you have a battery operated breast pump (which I highly recommend), then you will be pumping on the go. You would be surprised at all the places you will end up pumping.
I have pumped in the car more times than I can count, I have pumped walking through the zoo, and I have pumped waiting in line at Disney World.
When breastfeeding in public, the baby covers most of the breast. However, most flanges are clear, so if you are pumping in public, you are going to want a breastfeeding cover on deck.
5. Drink A Lot Of Water
There are actually very few differences between breastfeeding and pumping. So just like when breastfeeding, drinking water is the best thing to do to increase your milk supply.
Get a mommy water bottle to take with you everywhere. Keep it by you at all times to remind you to drink up!
6. Wear Loose Clothing And Bra
Wearing tight clothing and bras can ruin your milk supply.
Let your breasts breath. Wearing loose clothing can also make it easier to pump without having to take all your clothes completely off. Breastfeeding tank tops and shirts are also great for pumping mothers.
BONUS: Make sure to get nursing cream and nursing pads to make life easier for you (Make sure to get your free breast pads below)!
7. Hot Compress and Massages
If you are having trouble with your milk supply applying a hot compress and massages before pumping can increase the amount of breast milk that you pump.
Hot compresses and massages can also help with clogged milk ducts, which you will probably get along the way at least once.
8. Use Coconut Oil
Pumping should never be painful, and if it is you might be using the wrong size flanges. I did not know there were different size flanges until I was about 6 months into exclusively pumping. If pumping is painful, try a different flange size and see if it makes a difference.
However, pumping can be uncomfortable when you first start. Rubbing coconut oil on your nipples before you start pumping can make it more comfortable. Coconut oil can also help with cracked nipples.
9. Do Not Use The Highest Settings
Setting your pump to the highest setting can be very uncomfortable, and it does not always make you pump more milk.
Start at a low setting and work your way up with time. Experiment and see what works best for you.
10. Download A Pumping App
You should experiment with your pump, diet, wardrobe, and schedule to see what combination produces the most milk. But you need a way to keep track of when you are pumping, and how much you are pumping.
Download a pumping app to keep track of this. On the Medela App you can keep track of when you pumped, how much you pumped, when the baby ate, how much the baby ate, dirty diapers, and a sleeping schedule for the baby.
Keeping track of everything baby related makes life with a newborn much easier! This also prevents mistakes from mom brain (which is a very real thing).
11. Stock Up When The Baby Isn’t Eating Much
Once your milk comes in, you will probably pump much more than your baby is actually eating. A newborn’s stomach is very small, so you will have extra milk you can store.
Take advantage of this! Start making a milk supply stash as soon as your milk comes in. In a few months, you will be very happy you got a head start on your stash. By the time my son was 3 months old, I had almost 2,000 oz. stored up.
12. Get On A Schedule
For the first 8-12 weeks of your baby’s life, you will have to feed them on demand, but you can still get on a pumping schedule. Pump every 2 or 2.5 hours for about 20 minutes.
At about 12 weeks your baby will get into their own eating schedule, which you can influence and create the best schedule that works for your family.
After 12 weeks, you can start pumping whenever your baby eats. Once your body gets into a schedule of pumping at the exact same time everyday, it will expect what time you are going to pump, and you will be able to pump more milk a lot faster. Once you start pumping when your baby eats, you only need to pump for about 15 minutes.
13. Store Your Pump Parts In The Fridge
Having a newborn can be very time consuming. You might get finished pumping, and have to go run and change a diaper.
If you do not have time to wash all of your pump parts, store them in the fridge until the next time you are going to pump. The milk residue on the parts will not spoil. This tip can be a life saver for hectic days!
14. Store Your Milk By Date
When I first started pumping I had no idea how to store the breast milk. You couldn’t open the freezer door without causing an avalanche of frozen milk bags.
I found out very quickly, we needed to invest in a chest freezer (yes, I really did have that much milk).
When you freeze your milk, freeze it in 6 oz. increments. Lay the bag flat to freeze, so it freezes flat. You can use breast milk bags, or you can use regular vertical Ziploc bags (they are the exact same thing for half the price).
Make sure you label the bag with the date that the breast milk was pumped! This part is very important. You will want to keep the oldest milk in the front, so you can grab the oldest milk first.
Then I stored the vertical bags in gallon Ziploc bags. Storing gallon Ziploc bags, is much easier than storing all the little ones individually.
15. Do Not Let Your Breast Milk Expire
Make sure to know how long breast milk is good for. Here is a great guide to how long you can keep breast milk.
Keep track of the dates you have in the freezer. Use the milk before it expires. If you still have a few months before your freezer stash is going to expire, then you can use any fresh milk you pump first.
Whatever you do, do not let your breast milk expire. Pumping is very time consuming, so dumping out any breast milk could make any woman cry. Save yourself the tears and do not waste ANY milk!
This online pumping course will teach you EVERYTHING you need to know about pumping, storing milk, and your milk supply. Learn everything you need to know to succeed at pumping breast milk from the comfort of your own couch. How awesome is this?
Exclusively pumping is very hard work. Pumping is frustrating and annoying, but just keep your goals in mind. Pumping all day long everyday will not last forever. It does get easier with time.
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