Mama, here's our top tips for exclusive pumpers
BY SAIRA ARSALAN, GUEST WRITER
I had some desperate times and desperate days before finally finding my way as an exclusive pumper. I've put this guide together, based on my experiences, for anyone who struggling with a breastfeeding journey that looks to different to the one they had envisioned.
And always remember: Exclusive pumping IS breastfeeding
1. Get on an exclusive pumping routine from day one
This will help you regulate and maintain a steady supply. This is the one I followed. Try to keep a 3-hour interval before 12 weeks postpartum.
2. Massage while you pump
A pump can't extract all the milk - it just isn't as efficient as a baby. But there are tricks to employ! Massaging your breasts can help yield more and it also helps to unclog any blocked milk ducts. Use your thumb and slide to your areola. There are breast massage devices on the market but your hands will do fine.
3. Don’t skip a pump session to yield more milk in the short term
Although you may get more milk in the next session, it will be short lived. Your body will assume that you don't need to produce as much and your supply will decrease.
4. Get a good breast pump bra
Being hands free while you pump is always a good idea. It means you can do other things at the same time and will lessen that feeling of being tied to your schedule.
5. Drink a lot
It's important to drink to thirst and pumping can be thirsty work. Coconut water, milk boosting teas or soups all worked for me, but water is really key here.
6. Refrigerate pump parts
Once you're through the newborn phase and if you're baby has no underlying conditions, refrigerate your pump parts to re-use instead of sterilising them each time. I had only one set of pump parts and washing them after every pump session was gruelling. I would take my used pump parts, put them in a Tupperware or Ziplock and keep in the fridge till the next session. It saved a lot of washing up. You could also get another set of pump parts.
7. Feed your baby, not your freezer
If you have yielded enough milk for a whole day of baby’s feed, hurrah! Give yourself a pat on the back. You are making the right amount of milk for your baby. You have done enough.
8. Label your breast milk bags
If you have some time in your hand, take out a sharpie and start labelling your breast milk bags in advance. If you're following a schedule you'll know the date and time for each session already and can save yourself some time by bulk labelling.
Photo credit: Lansinoh
9. Don't be too hard on yourself
If you are not making enough milk for reasons that aren't in your control, it is okay to supplement. You can reach out to breastfeeding group for donations. You can also choose to give some formula. Do what you need to do and remember stress has an impact on milk supply.
10. Hang in there
You may feel that you are tied to a routine and pump all the time. The cycle can be daunting at first, but it gets bearable as the months go by, know that you will adjust to this new normal till it becomes a kind of second nature. Find other women going through the same thing - I found solace with these support groups: Exclusively Pumping Mamas and Life After the Pump.
Image Credit: Women's Health
11. Change your perspective
Take each session as a type of down-time where you can read, watch or rest.
12. Be proud of yourself
The day you hang up those tubes for good, you will look back with admiration at your determination, grit, and tenacity.