Breastfeeding & Pumping | How I Managed to Keep Going

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Three weeks in as a new mom, I was crying and upset because I didn’t have enough breast milk pumped to feed my baby.  My nipples looked like two evil eyes, full of trauma from continuous, painful {and probably incorrect} latching from MJ.  How could I be failing at something that is supposed to be so natural?  They did not make this look so hard in that breastfeeding class I took!

I know I’m not the only mom that’s ever felt that way.  Fortunately, things got better.  I took my ego out of the picture and gave my baby two ounces of formula to get by until I pumped more milk.  At 12 weeks, I haven’t had to supplement her milk since.  I haven’t quite gotten the “big stash” that I’ve seen many other mother’s post, but I’ve gotten up to 24 ounces in the fridge and a minimum of 5 ounces (when baby girl is super hungry!).  This allows me to confidently leave the house to run errands, hit the gym, and attend events. 

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If I could go back in time, I would definitely get more information about pumping.  I feel like prenatal classes put such an emphasis on breastfeeding, they leave out all the tips for pumping.  So, here are some tips that have helped me:

Feed your baby based on her feeding cues, not a time schedule.  Although it may drive you crazy in the beginning, especially if you are nursing, this is important. This is also a way you signal your body to continue producing milk.  

Pump right after nursing.   This will help get the most milk from a feeding session and help you begin to store milk.  This also helped me prevent clogged milk ducts—these were very painful for me. 

Exclusively pumping requires just as much effort as breastfeeding.  I actually thought pumping was going to be easier than breastfeeding, or at least less painful.  At least I was right about pain relief.  Moreover, I think it’s a great idea to get into a pumping schedule right after your milk comes in (about 6 days)

Lansinoh Electric Breast Pump.  I got my pump for free through my insurance.  I was limited to the choices I had, but this pump works great.  It’s a closed system so I don’t have to worry about milk entering the tubing.  The suction is great and you can pump either one or both breasts at the same time.  I bought extra pumping parts so I’m not constantly washing parts when I need to pump.   Also, make sure your flange is the right size! have been using Tommee Tippie bottles with a size 0 nipple (very slow flow).

Pump at least every 4 hours.  Be consistent! I’ve been advised to pump every three hours.  Essentially, the more consistent you pump, the quicker your breasts are emptied and the quicker your breasts fill back up.  Pumping every three hours drove me insane and I applaud all mothers that are able to stick to it.   I pump every four hours and I sleep from 12am to 6am.   This is probably why I don’t have that amazing stash of milk, but mentally, I’m sane.

Drink lots of water and remember to eat! 

Eat oatmeal and drink Mothers Milk Tea.  Now this is very debatable.  I can’t say for certain these definitely help my milk supply, but they certainly don’t hurt.  Moreover, my supply has been consistent.  I have also tried lactation cookies and I think they’re just good for eating, not so much milk supply!

Invest in a hands-free pumping bra.  This helped me multitask a little better and avoid missing my time to pump.  I could pump while working, washing bottles, doing my make up, etc.

After reading a few articles and personal experiences on message boards, I took to Instagram to ask my mom-followers their tips and advice on breastfeeding and pumping.  Here’s a list of some of the advice I received.  Some of these tips were really helpful and hopefully they can be helpful to someone else.

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  • Keep moving milk to produce milk! No supplements needed!

  • Nurse as often as baby needs, pump before you return to work to get familiar with the routine.

  • Drink lots of water, get all your calories, rest as much as you can.

  • Motherlove nipple cream

  • Football cradling is convenient. Both of my babies loved that position.

  • Breastmilk soothes and heals cracked/raw nipples.

  • Oatmeal definitely creases supply. Be on a schedule to tell your body to produce more milk.

  • When breastfeeding from one breast, catch the milk from the other breast if it leaks.

  • Give yourself grace and time for you and your little one to get in a good groove.

  • Never skip a feeding. Even if she sleeps, pump- manually if you have to. Be patient with the latch. Try not to get frustrated.

  • Mothers Milk Tea, oatmeal and flaxseed.

  • Take Fenugreek

  • Hands-free pumping bras are life savers!

  • If you have low or slow milk supply, invest in some Fenugreek! It will do wonders!

  • Nipple cream!

  • Drink lots of fluids!

  • If you’re on Facebook, join the breastfeeding support group.

I hope this this information will help mothers out there trying to figure it out just like I am!  I’m proud of myself for sticking it out this long!  Thanks again to my friends and Insta-friends for all of your help!