All you Ever Wanted to Know About Exclusively Pumping

My constant companion these days is my breast pump. I have a Medela Pump in Style. I pretty much always have it close by. I've had a lot of people ask me how the pumping is going so I thought I would do a follow up post to my previous breast feeding post. I've also noticed that there really isn't a ton of information available for Mothers who choose to go this route. Hopefully someone will find this useful.

So far pumping is good. It's not without it's difficulties but neither is breastfeeding. So it's ok with me. For the first month or so I was pumping an exhausting 6 times a day for 20 min each time. That was pretty hard but necessary to regulate my milk supply. Shortly after that I went down to 5 times a day. Now I do 5 times a day about half the time and the other half I do 4. I'm hoping around 4 months I'll be down to 4 times a day all the time. Right now I can tell a drop in my milk supply (not much of a drop but enough to notice) if I go too many days in a row at 4 times a day. So I try to alternate every other day. Right now I feel pretty good about how much I'm pumping and how often. I'm able to keep up with Mr. Z and then some. I've been able to save and freeze about 5 ounces a day. So I have plenty stored up for emergencies. 

Some things to know if you are going to be exclusively pumping. The first few months are really important and not easy. It will seem like a lot of work sometimes but it gets better in no time. It is really important to pump as often as you can and pump for a full 20 min. If you pump less than that then your milk supply may run out. There are different sizes of shields. You may have to try a couple sizes to find your perfect fit. I was using shields that were too small at first and I was getting sores. No amount of lanolin could make those things go away and they were painful. Then I went up a size and magically they were gone. Also use lanolin every single time you pump with out fail. Before AND after. Goop it on. Really it's ok. You will thank me later. 

Now for a few helpful hints... 

Have at least two sets of accessories. Your pump pieces need to be washed after every use so the more accessories you have the easier your life will be. 

Get a car adapter. So if you are going to be out of the house all day you can pump on the road. This may seem awkward but it's essential in my book. Just get a nursing cover so you don't feel super exposed.

Along with that get the Medela quick clean wipes for when you are not near a sink. They are little expensive so I wouldn't use them all the time. Just when you are out and about. They are really handy.

Sanitize. Sanitize. Sanitize. And the easiest way to do it is with the Medela Quick Clean Micro Steam Bags (the people at Medela are geniuses). They come in a pack of 5 and each bag can be used 20 times. I use them at least once a day.

Do yourself a favor and get yourself a cute drying rack. Like this one. If you are going to be hand washing pump parts for months on end you might as well have something enjoyable to look at.

Now for the positives on pumping. You get a lot of the same benefits from pumping that you would from breast feeding. It has helped me loose the baby weight faster. I already had a pump and accessories on hand so it has been very inexpensive. I've only had to purchase a few things here and there which has been much cheaper than buying formula every week. You are giving your baby breast milk which is always best (but there is nothing wrong with formula. I'm not at all saying formula is bad for your baby). Now that I'm on a good schedule and I've gotten the hang of everything it really is easy and painless. It doesn't interfere too much with my day. I can have other people feed my baby. I hope that doesn't sound terrible but sometimes it's nice to share in that responsibility. I can leave him with Daddy or Grandma and they will have no problem feeding him. Overall it has been a good experience so far. There are more positives I just can't remember all of them right this second. I still get people who are shocked that I'm doing this (and successfully) and wonder why I would even consider it. Now that it's been a couple months I would honestly say I would do it again in a heart beat if I had to. I just want people to know that it is an option to be considered if you are struggling with breast feeding. I thought I would hate this, but I don't. Yes at first it was hard, but it got easier and easier and now it isn't hard at all. 

OK I'm done rambling. Hopefully someone out there will find some of this useful. And if anyone has any questions please feel free to ask!

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