How to get more out of pumping - an essential list of items and instructions3:21 PM
Today I write about what works for me while pumping, and what doesn't. With a little preparation, every mother can pump efficiently and even build a nice little freezer collection for baby.
When a baby is born, it takes a few days for the mother's milk to come in. It is amazing to note that a new mother should typically produce more than what the baby needs. It just takes a few days and the first few days are very critical for the baby too. Make sure that you carefully store any expressed or pumped milk in the first few days, it is extremely beneficial for your baby.
If possible, try to get baby to latch before pumping, this may help overcome any supply or latch issues if you keep trying. You can express or put the baby to breast, before trying to pump. I have found it useful to help me get a letdown started.
Essentials / the material stuff:
- The actual pump/pump parts - insurance should provide one for free. A hospital grade pump can be rented or bought at a lower cost through insurance too.
- An extra pillow, especially for electric pumps. This is for the back :)
- A box of tissues to wipe off any leaks. A pocket size Kleenex works great.
- Breast wipes to soothe before and after.
- Breast milk storage bags and a pen or marker to write details.
- Ziploc bags - I find these useful to throw dirty parts and store clean parts.
- I use a marker to mark which is what, and use 'freezer' bags to store parts between sessions.
- Something to clean the parts easily, daily. I find that if I have a very rigorous process to clean, it discourages me to pump some days. It's nice to have a set of microwave bags, cleaning agent, and a stand to store sterilized parts.
Keep a serene spot to pump where you can relax. It is handy to have some supplies nearby which are listed below. The same applies when you are done and want to store the parts in a specific place (ziploc in fridge) and sterilize them for repeated use.
- Relax. Stay bonded to your baby.
Take a deep breath and just think of your baby. Any negative or stressful thoughts can wait. I have seen that, when I'm stressed, the amount I pump is significantly lower.
Keep some pictures of baby handy. Look at them often. Think of your baby's soft skin and how sweetly they fall off to sleep when drinking :) A lactation consultant told me that breastfeeding is an emotional connection with the baby, I'm sure the same can be applied while pumping.
- Stay hydrated and eat well.
Keep a bottle of water handy. Drink often. Eat well before and after, and take some rest after pumping. You deserve it.
- Keep a timer but don't look at it.
Keep track of how long to pump, and set a timer that sets off once you are 'done'. Add a few minutes to account for stocking and storing. Also, don't look at how much has been pumped - I have done this many a time and somehow the amount gets stuck when I'm just looking at a specific quantity.
- Thin / thick marked storage:
If you pump right after your baby feeds (if you breastfeed), mark the milk as 'Thick'. You won't pump much, but it is rich milk that is great for the baby. If you pump exclusively, take two times and the first 10-15 minutes, mark the milk as 'Thin'. The next 10-15 minutes, mark the milk as 'Thick'. When feeding, you can put thin milk first, then thick to simulate an actual feed.
Expressing and massaging has always made me get more milk than if I just sit and get pumping. You can try a hands free bra to help with this, as it can get tricky to massage when holding a pumping bottle.
- Make sure your pump is connected properly, if it is an electric pump. If you have problems with your pump and have a spare set of parts, try them.
- Pump early in the morning or earlier in the day.
- Pump longer if you pump less number of times.
And here are some products I recommend using to help you pump (personal use, no sponsored products):
- NUK breast milk bags, Target Up & Up storage bags
- NUK breast wipes
- Medela Pump in Style Advanced (PISA) - this is ok, not great but not bad. Before I started working, I would pump once everyday during the last month of my maternity leave. And to be fair, I used the PISA to build a freezer stash for my baby.Cons: It can get noisy. I actually liked the hospital grade pump that I rented better. I have heard great things about the Spectra S2 which you can get for a discounted rate.
However, PISA is provided by insurance for free. Medela's customer service is awesome though, so if you have any issues they will be quick to provide overnight replacements, and you can send your defective parts/pump later. Both are pluses.
- Babyganics cleaning - I find that this worked best and parts are 'squeaky' clean. Literally squeak and no residue remains.