Breastfeeding is difficult. Some babies get it while others just don’t. Even if your baby is unable to get the hang of breastfeeding there are other ways to give your baby breast milk!
I know pumping is hard too. It takes a lot of work and dedication but if you stick with it, exclusively pumping may be just be what gets you through. I have made it to almost 10 months of pumping. In the beginning I did a combination of both breastfeeding and pumping but have stuck with mostly pumping since Avery started getting teeth (and biting). Check out my post on breastfeeding essentials HERE and how to increase your breast milk supply HERE for more tips and tricks on breastfeeding.
However, if you do decide to go the pumping route here are 9 ways for you to pump like a pro!
1. Invest in a good pump
I love the Spectra. It has done me well these past 9 months. It is also important to invest in an extra seat of parts since these items do wear out overtime. I experienced a drop in my supply around 6 months and after replacing the worn out parts, viola, my supply went back up!
One con about the Spectra is that you have to purchase these parts online or on amazon (linked below) while with Medela you could just head to your local Target to get some. Medela is still a good pump but I didn’t find it as powerful as the hospital grade Spectra. Check out the Spectra at Amazon.com.
Pro Tip: Many insurances cover breast pumps now so check with them before making a purchase of your own.
2. Learn how to use your pump
When I first sat down to pump with the Spectra it was like looking at a Manuel in Chinese. I had no idea what the little buttons said or where even for. It was also super helpful that my insurance slacked and didn’t give me an instruction manual. Once I learned how to use the pump, my supply sky rocketed.
Pro Tip: YouTube!! You can literally find anything on YouTube and lo and behold there was a video (or 20) on how to use the Spectra to it’s full advantage.
3. Pump around the clock
I promise this won’t be forever but if you want to exclusively pump then for the first few weeks you should be pumping every 2-3 hours even throughout the night. This is to help boost up your supply. I did this for the first 6 weeks after Avery was born. I would either breastfeed or pump when she woke up at night.
Pro Tip: Pump just a little bit extra after your baby is done feeding, this will help create more of a supply. Just be careful because an oversupply can be just as harmful as an under supply. So do what feels right for you and your baby.
4. Create a comfy pumping nook
Creating a little area in your home that has your pump, a good book or magazine, snacks and water will help you get cozy and settle in to pump. Even if you need to have your baby with you while you pump have a little chair for the baby to sit in.
Pro Tip: Massage your breast while pumping. This can help can milk out of the ducts that otherwise would not come out.
5. Invest in a pumping bra
Nothing is worse then having to sit there and hold the pump parts while pumping. Investing in a good pumping bra can hold them in place leaving your hands free to read, scroll through Facebook or take pumping selfies (you know you will!). Some nursing bras can also be clipped around the pump parts and held in place that way. So experiment with what you have! Check out Amazon.com for this one and more!
Pro Tip: If your cheap like me, take an old’s sports bra you already have and cut holes in it. Put that on when your going to pump.
6. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!!
Drink your water! Trying to squeeze water out of a stone is nearly impossible, the same goes for producing breast milk when you are dehydrated. Stay as hydrated as possible to help produce more and feel better physically!
Pro Tip: Carry a water bottle around with you where ever you go. This will encourage you to drink your water.
7. Treat yourself
While it is important to stay hydrated, it is also important to eat enough calories to sustain what you are putting out. Our bodies burn about 20 calories per ounce of breast milk produced (thank you Dr. Pinnette for this info) which means you can burn a lot of calories in one day breastfeeding alone. I know that when I don’t eat enough calories, I start to feel extremely tired and notice a significant drop in my milk supply.
Pro Tip: Keep healthy snacks on hand such as granola bars and cheese sticks to make sure your eating enough throughout the day.
8. Prepare to head back to work
If you are a working mama like me, prepare yourself to head back to work. Think about what pumping schedule you will want to maintain, if there is a room for you to pump in at your work, and what items you will need while there. Planning for these things ahead of time will help you be more successful when you have to go back to work.
Pro Tip: Create a pumping bag that is strictly for work. I have a bag that has my pump, my parts, a little bit of soap, a storage bag if needed, as well as a little cooler with an ice pack to store my freshly pumped milk.
9. Don’t give up
Both breastfeeding and pumping can be hard. I have struggled with both my kids and often wanted to just throw in the towel. While it is perfectly fine to use formula (no shaming here) if things don’t work out or you just decide the pumping life isn’t for you, I urge you to at least try a couple of more days before quitting. Sometimes all you need is that extra push to really get the hang of it.
Pro Tip: No real pro tips here. Mostly just hang in there mama, you can do this.