I breastfeed exclusively for two weeks and was in enormous pain so I started pumping to give my nipples a much-needed break to heal and relive engorgement. From week three I have been pumping during the day, feeding at night and from week ten my baby has slept through the night so I now only exclusively pump during the day.
I started pumping because I knew before I delivered that it was something I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to have the freedom to leave the house and for my husband to have time feeding as well. But I also knew that I could never breastfeed in public – maybe you can but it’s just not me. I don’t like being the center of attention and didn’t want people staring at me. I also personally feel uncomfortable about sitting in a room full of loads of people acting like nothing is happening. Lastly, I wanted to feel like me again as soon as possible so pumping allowed me the freedom to be away from my baby but to also wear my own clothes instead of having to wear easy access breastfeeding gear (I still have to wear BF’ing clip bras to be able to pump easily). So I am all for breastfeeding (BF’ing) for everyone else who can and wants to, but again it’s just not me. At the end of the day if you breastfeed and I pump both of our babies end up with breast milk so I don’t really see the difference.
How I Coped
I ordered a pump to be delivered to my house for when I got home from the hospital (day 5 I was home) and rented a hospital grade one – Medela Symphony. For a couple of reasons:
- Because it’s a hospital grade pump it has two functions, other pumps have one, so it mimics real BF’ing with quick sucking for let-down and then long pulls for hind milk – it’s also super quiet and doesn’t hurt
- You don’t know if you will be able to BF and you can’t return or really sell a used pump
- If I could BF I didn’t know how long I would be able to or would want to
- I don’t have a huge piece of equipment left sitting in my house that will never be used again or when its time to use it again it won’t be okay to because of cleanliness
I read other blogs about pumping and found out that lots of other women exclusively pump as well for various reasons it’s called EP’ing you can get loads of information about exclusive pumping and how to pump in general from Kellymom – I use this as a main resource.
I think I was able to successfully get my baby to both BF and take a bottle simultaneously because I started her so early. The second week I started using nipple shields because I was bleeding and she wasn’t confused. Then I gave her a binky (dummy) to settle her at night a couple of days later and she still wasn’t confused. Then a couple days later I started a bottle during the day and she still wasn’t confused. I think the key is to buy the right gear and to start early. A lot of other mom’s I know their babies won’t take bottles at all because they waited till after the first month to try one.
Regarding the right gear you need to make sure the bottle nipples are compatible with breastfeeding, the binky (dummy) shape is similar to the bottle nipple – I use all Avent products to avoid confusion.
What I do:
- Schedule – establish when you are going to pump and how you will use the milk – pumping first thing in the morning you will get the most milk and it slowly decreases during the day. I have produced a lot of milk from the beginning and my baby fed every three or four hours so my first schedule I pumped four times a day and BF’ed at night. After a couple of weeks I started letting the time in between gradually increase because my milk supply was already established and I was producing like a cow so I was able to pump only three times a day and this is what I still do at five months. However what has changed is she has gone through a growth spurt at the end of four months and required more milk (according to Kellymom breastfeed babies only increase their milk supply at one and four months when they are going through a growth spurt otherwise their intake is consistent, whereas formula feed babies increase their milk intake as they get older). So I luckily still produce the same amount roughly every day I just no longer have the ability to freeze anything in the short-term.
- Plan -what to do with the extra milk if you have any. I had to start freezing my milk because I was pumping enough for two feeds most of the time so I began a freezer stockpile using Boots breast milk storage bags which work great. As I live in the UK I have a standard UK freezer which means it’s tiny compared to what we have in the US so that impacts how big my stockpile can become. After freezing and storing from December to February I was able to store 110 Boots bags with 100ml in each in two full-size drawers of my UK freezer. I only have a smaller bottom drawer left which could probably only hold another 60 bags.
- Pump – rent a hospital grade pump if you plan on pumping often and regularly – if you buy a normal one eventually your milk supply will start reducing at about month three because your body knows you’re not feeding a baby and they are ridiculously expensive to buy hospital grade pumps at least here in the UK
- Pumping gear -my rented pump came with one set of new parts (flanges, connectors, bottles, and tubes). I decided against buying adaptors to use my actual bottles because the Avent Natural Glass are heavier and bigger which wasn’t going to work. I did however buy Avent Natural sealing discs so I could store pumped milk in the taller glass bottles in the fridge.
- Bottles – If you are going to switch in-between breast and bottle you need a really good bottle that your baby won’t reject and doesn’t confuse them.
- Binky/pacifier – (dummy) make sure they the nipple is also similar to your bottles to avoid confusion and so your baby will most likely accept them because the shape is familiar
- Milk usage routine – after I am done pumping I transfer my milk to the Avent glass bottles for the next feed and then if there is enough left I measure out two bottles. All extra that is not enough to make a bottle I pour into another bottle with a lid and store in the fridge. At the end of the day I combine already chilled bottles together that I have extra to put in freezer bags. To prevent freezer burn I read that you should only freeze previously chilled milk. I only measure out 100ml for every bag so it’s easy to store them top to bottom on their side and so I know exactly how much I have by counting the bags. If you wait longer then a day to store chilled milk it will begin to separate which is fine if you warm it in that bottle but is harder to freeze because the thicker cream sometimes sticks to the sides of the bottle and you are losing that milk.
- Bottle warmer – I bought the Avent one above because I knew the Avent products would be compatible. Some people complained in reviews about it not having a timer or automatic switch off so I knew that going into it. Honestly I don’t think it’s a big deal – you stick the bottle from the fridge in, select the bottle size on the knob and set your iPhone, oven or microwave timer that’s it. With the glass bottles the glass is warm when you take it out but the milk is room temp not warm like fresh breast milk. Luckily my baby isn’t fussy about temp but I still would rather her drink milk warmed then straight out of the fridge. If you are pumping and refrigerating and freezing the warmer is a must have. You can’t EVER warm bottles in the microwave and you could boil water every time but who wants to get out a pan, pour water and heat and still have to use a timer especially when you heat multiple bottles a day.
- Cleaning routine – all pumping equipment and bottles I thoroughly rinse in hot water first then place in a medium plastic mixing bowel on the counter to soak with dish soap (washing-up liquid) I use all natural Ecover. When I am ready to pump again I rinse everything in the bowel under hot water, use my bottle brush to scrub, and transfer everything to dry on my Boon lawn. I don’t sterilize like everyone does in the UK because after so many minutes things are no longer sterilized and no one in the US I’ve ever known has done this. I also don’t use the dishwasher because of the ick factor – food flying around/smells/staining/warping especially when you have plastic. Warm soapy water is perfectly fine as long as you rinse out the milk immediately from everything and don’t let it dry and cake.
Let me know if this has helped you at all or if you have any other suggestions or products you love using!
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