I have exclusively pumped milk for both our girls, and it’s been a great experience for me. Challenging in ways, yes. Takes discipline and diligence, yes. But best for us. Especially this go-round, I’m average 50-60 ounces a day, freezing half of it, and have been able to give milk away to other moms who needed it. Which is awesome.
Okay. The deets:
Get a quality pump (oftentimes your insurance will pay for one) and a nursing bra. I share Medela because that’s what I’ve used and have had great experience with. A month after J was born, I grabbed this one off Amazon for easy on-the-go pumping and it’s been a dream.
Important to pumping (and breastfeeding) is enough calories and hydration. I’m a pretty conscious eater, so I have to tell myself, if I think I’m eating and drinking enough, I probably need more.
For the first 3 months you’re building your supply, which means creating demand. You are essentially telling your body how much milk you need by how many times you pump. In the beginning, though it will likely feel taxing and a little overkill, pumping every 2-3 hours is necessary. In the first 2 months of Julia’s life, I pumped when it was convenient, and if it had only been an hour and a half, but both girls were napping, I pumped. I think that created more of a demand than my baby was actually eating. But it’s nice because now I’m freezing almost half the milk I produce in a day.
I learned this time that it matters more how many times a day you pump and not so much that there is the same amount of time between each pump. This was helpful having a toddler. In the early weeks I would have days I’d pump every 2 hours in the morning and then have a 4 hour block where pumping wasn’t super convenient int he afternoon. That didn’t set me back.
But, even though it’s not the most fun, getting up between 1am and 6am to pump is especially beneficial, because your body’s prolactin levels (the hormone that tells your body to make milk) are highest in the early morning hours.
There’s also something called ‘power pumping,‘ if you need to boost your supply or catch up. Set aside 30-40 minutes. Pump for 10, break for 10, pump for 20, break for 10, etc.
One of the best things I learned this time is that I didn’t need to wash pump parts every single time I pumped! I washed parts once a day and in between pumps kept the parts in a Tupperware container in the fridge.
PS – If you need encouragement to take this step or are curious about more of my story with it, please feel free to email me (email@example.com)!
PSS – this resource from KellyMom I referenced often.