Ah, exclusively pumping…if you’ve done it, you know it’s not easy, but it is possible! I wasn’t planning on exclusively pumping with Jo when she was born, it kind of just happened by accident. I honestly didn’t know pumping full time was even an option! I didn’t find much info on this topic either, so I created this post, to help any mamas out there struggling with breastfeeding/pumping, plus shared my experience at the end of this post.
That first month is always tough, baby has to eat every 3 hours, and you have to keep up with pumping at the same rate to keep your supply up to baby’s rate. I was a walking zombie that first month, so sleep deprived! It is not going to be easy at first, but it does get better.
My typical pumping schedule for that first month (0-1 month) looked like this:
- Pumped every 3 hours round the clock (15 min each breast)
- 8 pumping sessions a day
- Baby ate 2-3 oz bottles 8 times a day
At first, your supply will be colostrum, a thick yellowy liquid full of amazing nutrients for baby! It will also start out in a tiny amount, but thats okay! A teaspoon of colostrum is highly concentrated. But keep pumping like usual and your milk supply should come in in 2-3 days.
Your baby will also go through something called growth spurts, meaning baby will eat more frequently. I would try to establish a little stash of stored milk, it’s always good to have a little extra on hand.
Also, have a reliable pumping station dedicated to your pumping sessions. Some things you’ll need for your pumping station:
My typical pumping schedule for 2-12 months looked like this:
- Pumped every 4 hours round the clock
- 6 pumping sessions a day
- 2 -6 month old baby ate 4-5 oz bottles 6 times a day
- 6-9 month old baby ate 5-6 oz bottles 4 times a day
- 9-12 month old baby ate 8 oz bottle 3 times a day
Yup, thats right, for the rest of the year my schedule didn’t change much. I was so use to it, it worked for me, it worked for us! And I had a hefty stash growing in my freezer.
By this time, your supply will grow and baby will eat higher volumes of breastmilk. I was a full-time stay at home mom so I got use to getting up once or twice a night to pump to keep my supply up. But if you notice your supply decreasing, this article I found on how to increase your supply can help.
One pet peeve I had about pumping was the endless dishes! Washing pumping parts and bottles all day long was exhausting! My husband’s least favorite part as well haha. But I learned some tricks to make it easier:
- Reuse your pumping parts a few times before washing! After I was done pumping, I wiped the nipple shields and put the pumping parts in a ziplock bag and sticked it in the fridge until next use. Saved me so much time on washing dishes! I just washed them once at the end of each day.
- Also, if you have a dish washer. There are Dishwasher baskets to hold all your little pumping and bottle parts in place so you can wash with ease. Only down side about this is you would need extra parts just incase you didn’t decided to turn on the dish washer that day (we use our dish washer every 2 days).
Do and don’ts about breastmilk:
- Frozen milk can be left in the freezer for 6-12 months.
- Thawed milk can be in the fridge up to 24 hrs.
- Never refreeze milk.
- Don’t shake bottles of breastmilk, rather STIR! Shaking will create bubbles and leave your baby gassy.
- Don’t microwave bottles! Use a bottle warmer or hold it under warm running water for 5 minutes.
Finally, my favorite bottles were the Dr Browns bottles, they are amazing!
When Jo was born Feb 12th, 2015, I wanted to exclusively breastfeed. I did not invest in any bottles or electric pump, I just thought, how hard can it be? I was a stay at home mom, so figured, I can do this. But let me tell you, it is difficult! My nipples were flat, Jo was not latching, then my nipples became cracked/sore, I seen a lactation consultant numerous times, I was in pain from just giving birth, my neck/back was in so much pain no matter what position I tried to nurse her, and I ended up in the emergency room with Mastitis. It was just miserable that first 2 weeks, but I did not want to quit, I was determined! I did not want to give up.
So I was fed up and needed to do something, I looked at Jack, all sleep deprived and stressed out, and told him to just go to Target, and to buy a Electric Breast Pump. He got back home, and I hooked it up right away to use it. It felt right, it felt a lot easier, and not painful at all. When I gave Jo her first bottle of that tiny 1 oz of milk, she was happy! So it became the new normal for us, I ended up exclusively pumping her for 1 year and 2 days and I have no regrets!
Oh the places I pumped in: airplanes, airport bathrooms, Disneyland, in a moving car during road trips, in closets, hotel rooms, restaurants, the list goes on. But you get use to it.
Sometimes I do wish I could have breastfed her exclusively, but I had to think about mama’s health as well. So in the end, it worked well for us. Mamas don’t feel beat if you cannot breastfeed, everyone is different, every situation is different, do what works best for you and focus on your health as well.
I am due in a couple months with our 2nd girl, and I am going to try to breastfeed her directly, but exclusively pumping is an option that I now know of.
And finally, reach out for support if you are still struggling. There are lots of helpful resources out there, or you can just shoot me an email.
Thank you for ready, please like and share, see you all on my next post! xoxo