I recently read an article entitled “This Blog Is Going To Embarrass My Husband”, a great article about loving your body. (Check it out here.) And while the subject matter is somewhat different, I can say the same for this blog. By now, I have rewritten this blog about 10 times. Why? Because I know there are struggling breastfeeding mom’s out there who may need it and I am amazed at the lack of information and support for this subject. Yes, there is an over-abundance of material available for the breastfeeding mom and advice from activists about the important of breastfeeding. By the time you have your child, you have decided one way or another on this matter. However, just because you made up your mind doesn’t make it so.
It’s the same sad story. You hear it everyday, especially when you’re pregnant. A veteran mom explaining her breastfeeding woes and how she had to resort to infant formula. She assures you everything will be fine and it will not be a disaster if you aren’t able to breastfeed. Well, I don’t know about you but in the back of my mind, I could not understand why it would be so difficult? Oh, little naive first-time mommy! My son, for reasons unknown, would not nurse. He wouldn’t latch properly, he would scream when I tried to position him and he wasn’t getting enough milk for sufficient weight-gain. I was so afraid of putting him on formula because I wanted the best for him. I felt like a total failure for not being able to do what is so natural for many women. That’s when I found Kelly Mom: a breastfeeding/parenting site. Here is the link where I finally found some answers. I saved my life…and my sanity.
Kelly Mom (whoever this wonderful person is) introduced me to the world of Exclusive Pumping – an alternative to traditional breastfeeding. My advice is to start there if you are considering giving up breastfeeding. She explains how it is entirely possible and can be very successful to pump milk for your newborn, without having to nurse or switch to formula. Now, don’t get me wrong. This is hard. And it may not be for everyone. It takes a lot of dedication and determination, which normally, I do not have! And what works for me may not work for you. However, it is definitely worth it and looking back, I would do it all over again.
I hope to write more blogs going into depth on this subject at a later time but for know, we will skim the surface and hopefully, provide some helpful information. (Lots of my info is taken from Kelly Mom’s blog and websites like it. I will post my resources as we come to them.)
The most important thing is to have a good breast pump. For me, I borrowed a Medela Pump in Style Advanced. It’s a double electric pump that came in a backpack, which made if very convenient and discreet to carry it with me.
Another lifesaver if you are exclusively pumping is the Medela Hands-Free Pumping Bra. I know it looks silly and you will feel like a milking cow every time you put it on but believe me, it is a lifesaver. You can put this on and start your pump, and have your hands free to feed your baby at the same time (which is important to keeping your pumping schedule). I will also admit that when I was slammed for time, I wore this while I was driving (with a cover, of course!). And remember, you will be following your baby’s feeding schedule with your pumping schedule and after 48 straight hours of pumping every 3 hours, your arms will be tired from holding your pump. So invest!!
Those are the 2 main items that you will need to get started but there are some other thing that are just as important and some that just make things easier.
- Storage bags. Chances are, you will eventually be pumping more than your little one eats at one feeding. These are great to freeze for later use, when you finish breastfeeding or for when you return to work. (Fact: Frozen breastmilk can be stored for up to 6 months.) Now, these can get somewhat expense when you are exclusively pumping and are constantly storing new milk in the fridge. Amazon has a great price on the large boxes here. I also found that you can purchase cheap bottles at the Dollar Store, take the nipples out and use those as your fridge storage. (These, of course, will not work for the freezer.)
- Sanitizing bags. Medela has Quick-Clean Micro-Steam bags that can be put in the microwave to sterilize your pumping accessories as well as bottles. Here is the link to them on Babies ‘R Us.
- Brushes. You are going to be washing your pump parts and bottles a lot at first, so stock up on bottle brushes!
- Nursing cover. Udder Covers offers a free nursing cover to all new mommies. Chances are, you probably got emails about this when you were pregnant but you can always find this deal online. All you have to pay for is shipping. Great deal! Click here to check them out!
These are some simple rules I learned while I was pumping:
1) DO NOT SHAKE BREASTMILK. Be sure to swirl it in the bottle and NO microwaving.
2) Drink lots of water. I hate water and I absolutely cannot drink it without some kind of flavoring in it. When it comes to breastfeeding, you will find out quickly that if you don’t stay hydrated, you are in big trouble. I kept a bottle of water with me at all times – in my purse, in the diaper bag. I even carried my bottle of flavoring with me. It doesn’t matter how you get it down, make sure you are constantly drinking water or it will affect your milk supply.
3) Stress is the #1 milk supply killer. Make sure you are relaxed and stress-free when you’re pumping. Read a book, watch a movie or talk to your baby to keep your mind distracted.
4) Keep a strict schedule until you establish your milk supply. This is VERY important when exclusively pumping! This blog explains how milk production works and will better help you understand why you need a schedule.
Head spinning yet? It’s a lot to take in and a big thing to take on, so do your research before committing to it. You don’t want to jump head first only to discover this is not for you. The most important thing is to be happy with your decision and to get the most time with your new little one while you can. Before long, they will be all grown up and you will long to have those days back. Happy pumping!
Also, check out these great blogs while your searching for answers!