Just like any other professional, pumping, working mother – I have an interesting relationship with my Medela pump. You see, I’ve spent the 21 months of my life attached to my pump. I love this machine because it allows me to provide nourishment for my children, while also earning a living to help provide for the best opportunities for said children.
I guess I should have started first with the details of why I need to work. Put aside the obvious financial reasons why a good number of households are dual-income. I work to keep the Romano house at peace. I wish I had the patience of the Ree Drummond, where I could spend 24/7 with my three lovelies. I wish I had the creativity to provide unending entertainment for my children so we wouldn’t constantly find ourselves gravitating towards the T.V. and Disney Junior.
So, my husband and I work incredibly hard – full-time – and our children attend a Catholic daycare here in Birmingham with some of the finest women teaching and leading our children. We are blessed – beyond measure – to have the resources available to provide our children with this opportunity. My three-year-old counted out 10 straws at breakfast the other morning and shocked and impressed all present with her mad skills.
Alright, onto the focus of this post – the joy of pumping. So, if you were to ask anyone close to me why I pump they may roll their eyes. I don’t step up on my soapbox often (often enough at least ;)), but in my opinion, I don’t understand why women would not milk if they are capable. I’m sure that previous sentence will stir up quite a discussion – as it has before. You can read a plethora of literature regarding the health benefits of breastfeeding, so I will not attempt at preaching on that subject matter in this post. If you are interested, kellymom.com is an awesome resource to research and read up on anything breast-feeding related.
Lemme tell you that kids are expensive – super-expensive. Breastmilk is cheap – super-cheap. And, thanks to Obamacare (no matter your thoughts on the man or the plan), mamas in the U-S-of-A can get a complimentary breast pump (or a relatively cheap one – I had to pay a $40 copay). If you are pregnant or a mom of a new-born, call your insurance provider – NOW – and ask them how to get a breast pump through your insurance policy.
If you are pregnant and you are debating the breastfeeding feature of motherhood, just do it. Its the most selfless thing I have ever done in my entire life – and I tend to be naturally selfish (I’m working on that flaw). I am proud of my accomplishment. It also helped with the guilt when I returned to work after each of my deliveries.
So, I pump exclusively for my 9-month-old twin girls right now. That totals up to about 60 ounces a day with about 6-7 pumps day and night. I would consider myself a professional-pumper. And I were looking for tips and advice on this subject, I would totally take a mother like myself seriously. Not much else I can speak on with such assurance, but pumping is definitely something I am very familiar with.
Here are my tips to help a mother thinking of pumping, starting to pump, or already knee-deep in pumping.
- TAKE YOUR PUMP TO THE HOSPITAL. If you are a mother who’s child latched right away and was a pro-nurser right off the bat – GO YOU! Those first moments of nursing can be so trying. The mother is learning to nurse – the baby is learning to suck and eat… so many variables can affect those first nursing sessions. I did not have pro-nursers. I had one child in the NICU for the first 48 hours of life. I had c-section births. I had GINORMOUS breasts and nipples for my teeny-tiny babies. SO – you have no clue how you will do or how your children will do. So bring your pump to the hospital and expect to start using it as soon as you are able. I started using mine soon after the first nursing session with each of my children. I pumped for 10 minutes after each session. NOTE: you will not get anything out of these pumping sessions. You are simply triggering stimulation. Do not do more than 10 minutes, or else you will cause an over-supply.
- DO NOT ALLOW VISITORS FOR AT LEAST A HALF OF A DAY. I’m the pot calling the kettle black here. I had my family and my husband’s family visit as soon as possible after each of my deliveries. I was excited for everyone to meet the newest little additions to our family. Its a great thought at first, but it causes so much added stress and anxiety during those initial eating and learning hours. Go ahead and let others know that you are excited for them to meet the new additions, but it will probably be awhile after birth. Get your partner on board so that when you are feeling elated and you start to have a weak moment to invite everyone in, they can step in and put a stop to it. They have an entire lifetime to bond with these little ones – they can wait a few more hours.
- BUY A BIG WATER VESSEL. I recommend the Nalgene Water bottle. I like it because it has a wide mouth and measurements on the side. And it comes in pretty color choices – always a bonus. You will need to hydrate CONSTANTLY. If you think you have a ton of water, you probably need to drink more. Drinking water helps with your supply, keeps your energy levels up and helps keep feeling you 100% when you should be feeling 60%. Your friends, family and coworkers will start to think your water bottle is new appendage you’ve grown.
- DON’T BUY FANCY NURSING TOPS. Its tempting, I know. But, in my opinion, those nursing tops are not necessary. I mean, you are covered up anyway… what good is a quadruple layered tank top that allows your nipple to pop out going to do for you? All you need for nursing is a good nursing cover and 2-3 nursing bras. There are a ton of brands on the market for both of these items. I recommend the Bravado Bliss Nursing Bra if you have GINORMOUS breasts. It took a lot of searching to find a supportive nursing bra that did not have underwire. The Bravado is “bliss”ful ;). Do not go cheap here people. You will spend long days/nights with these two items – invest wisely. Save the money you would spend on a nursing wardrobe.
- BUY A HANDSFREE PUMPING BRA. I feel this is pretty self-explanatory. Who wants to hold pump parts to their boobs for 15-20 minutes several times a day. I have a strange relationship with my pump bras too. I’m weird. And I pump a lot. Also – you need more than one. TMI ALERT – your pump bras will become crunchy if you don’t have a few to rotate through. No matter how careful you are, you will get milk on your bra. I have two pump bras that I rotate through. Pumpease makes the ones I use. Again, I’ve tried several of these. The pumpease bras are my favorite. Plus, they come in super-fun colors.
- BUY AT LEAST ONE ADDITIONAL SET OF PUMP PARTS. Your partner will thank you. You will thank yourself. Washing pump parts get super-old super-fast. That is all – just have at least two sets. I have three sets.
- BUY THE MEDELA STEAMBAGS. I use the Medela steambags to clean my pump parts at work. This also allows me to leave the parts there during the week so I don’t have to tote them home every day.
- BUY A CAR CONVERTER FOR PUMPING ON THE GO. You will find yourself tied to your pump for the next year or so. Being able to pump on the go is so liberating.
- SUPPLY ISSUES? There are so many home-remedies for supply issues. Different things work for different people. Some of the things that have helped me through supply issues are: lemon-lime gatorade (full-sugar stuff people), homemade oatmeal cookies, steel-cut oatmeal, Newcastle beer, a lot of water, mothers milk supplement. Really, at the end of the day, a consistent pump schedule, a well-rounded diet and lots-o-water are KEY to maintaining a milk supply.
There are my tips. This is what I would say to any new mother – whether they wanted to know or not – ha! This is something I believe in 100%. There are some women out there that really have a lot working against them when it comes to trying to nurse/breastfeed. I understand that – I do. Being a mom is tough in general. And adding the long hours and hard work that goes into breastfeeding your child can add so much unnecessary stress to a woman. But, for those that can and want to, breastfeeding is something you will never regret and it is such a worthwhile investment of your time and resources. I do hope this helps.
If you are nursing/pumping mama and you have more questions, please feel free to reach out! You can email me at email@example.com or just comment below!
Best of luck to you and your partners!