I breastfed my son for a year with minimal problems, and only pumped while at work, so when my little girl came along and had feeding problems I was pretty much beside myself. I wanted her to get breastmilk, so I started pumping right away. Three months later I’m still at it, and I’m hoping we can keep this up for a year. I’ve gotten wonderful advice from friends along the way. If you find yourself exclusively pumping, or even just pumping frequently, these tips might help!
- Know what you need to do! In order to keep up supply, you’ll need to pump 8-10 times per day! It is a commitment. You can’t go more than 4-5 hrs without pumping or you’ll risk your supply might decrease.
- Fuel your body! You are still breastfeeding. You need extra calories and lots of water. Lactation cookies, mother’s milk tea, fenugreek, oatmeal, and flaxseed are your friends. Don’t stop taking those prenatal vitamins either!
- Consider your choice of pump carefully. There are a few different kinds of pumps on the market that allow you to move around while pumping. I use elvie pumps, which are a big investment. I also have a medela pump as a backup, and for morning and nighttime pumpings. I find that the traditional pump removes milk better, but the cordless pumps make exclusive pumping realistic during the day when I have to keep up with the busy toddler.
- Maintain your pump! For a traditional pump you’ll need new valves and parts every 3-6 months. Boil or sanitize parts regularly (read the manual). If you have an old pump from a previous baby, you might want to invest in a new one. Exclusively pumping wears out pumps much faster than occasional pumping at work would.
- Make sure you are using the correct flange size. Milk expresses from several different points, so some women benefit from a larger flange size. Pumping pals flanges really helped me!
- Look into power pumping if you see a decrease in supply. This method mimics cluster feeding and can increase supply in 3-7 days.
- Go to a lactation consultant, la leche league, or the nursing nook at the birthing center. This isn’t an easy road, and support is everything!
- Listen to music and look at your baby (or a picture) while you pump. These activities have been shown to increase milk production.
- Think of the benefits! Breastmilk is amazing for your baby. You can hand the bottle over to a partner or friend! Your baby won’t have to transition to a bottle if they attend daycare or are left with a sitter later on. I turned to exclusive pumping out of necessity, but keeping the positive points in mind helps.
- Be patient, kind, and realistic with yourself. We all might have breastfeeding goals, but at the end of the day any breastmilk your baby is able to get is a blessing. Fed is always best for baby, and mental health is always key for mama.
Whatever part of the pumping journey you are on, I wish you all the best!