My first baby was born in 2011. I worked tirelessly to exclusively breastfeed her. I tried every tip and trick in the book, but it just didn’t work out for me and for her. In fact, I wound up with mastitis 3 different times (if you’ve experienced mastitis, you are probably cringing right now). It got to be so bad that my Doctor asked me to be done breastfeeding her. At 6 months postpartum, I ended up weaning and formula feeding my first baby. Fast forward to baby 2 and, you could say, I wised up. I decided to be an exclusively pumping mom. The purpose in this was to avoid all of the issues I had with baby 1, and I’m so glad I made this choice. I’ve exclusively pumped my last 2 kids and learned some helpful tips along the way. I hope this post can bring some encouragement and help because there just isn’t enough information out there for exclusively pumping mamas. Below you will find a “How To” list to help you get started the right way with exclusive pumping.
How to Exclusively Pump
1) Make the decision at the hospital: if you want to get a full milk supply and not have any problems being an exclusive pumper, it is best to know that is what you are going to do right away. Ask your postpartum nurse for a pump and tell her you will be exclusively pumping. Note: hospitals have all of your pumping needs so you won’t need to bring anything for this, but you will want to make sure you have all the right equipment for when you get home.
2) Choose a good pump: for your sanity, please do not go the cheap route! If you are an exclusive pumper, you don’t want your pump pooping out on you. You will be in a major bind if this happens. The pump I recommend and used was Medela Breast Pump. This puppy lasted me all 3 kids (and I pumped for a year with 2 kids)! Be sure to check with you insurance company because you may get your Medela Pump free!
3) Make sure you have all of the right equipment: when you purchase your pump, all of the equipment should come with it and usually you can purchase anything at your local store. However, there are some pieces that must be ordered online like you tubing, so make sure to double check that you have all of the tools you need to start exclusively pumping when you get home from the hospital.
4) Pump 8 times a day: in the beginning, you will want to be sure you pump 8 times a day (about 120 min/day). It used to be standard to pump every 3 hours but that’s since changed. Plan out your pump schedule for the day and just make sure it includes 8 pumps. Note: I pumped 8 times a day for the first 2 months and eliminated a pump starting at 3 months. At 4 months, I eliminated another pump and only pumped 6 times a day and maintained this until my babies reached 12 months. This may work for you. If you notice your supply dropping, simply add your pumps back and be sure to pump 10-15 min each time.
Congratulations on your little one, Mama! I hope this post finds you happy, healthy and anticipating the arrival of your little bean! Be sure to visit 5 Tips for Exclusively Pumping Mamas for more helpful information!
(photo credit: Brittnee Burn Photography)