There are some things that the pregnant and not yet pregnant ladies need to know about milk and pumping. Here are a few that I've learned.
1) Don't stop using the stretch mark cream on your boobs after you give birth! My breasts went up one cup size during pregnancy from a C to a large D, but they are ginormous now - to the point that everyone comments on them. I was looking at the sports bras at Target since mine are too small (and are size small - or maybe medium). I held up the large...no way. XL, maybe. I got it home and the XL was perfect. I know understand some of the gripes of the large chested. My clothes (that still fit) just don't look the same since my whole body shape is different. I know this might be short-lived, but it's here now.
You are going to need some new bras for your new size and new need for comfort. I LOVE these:
|Bravado Nursing Bra|
They're on the pricier side for a nursing bra, but they are extremely comfortable. I bought a medium before my milk truly came in (it takes a few weeks for it to pick up volume) but it's still comfortable.
2) You're going to get milk everywhere. So much so, that you'll stop caring. I had a bitch of a day today (worthy of another post) and ended up going 5 hours between pumps. My large bottles are still dirty from using them overnight (when you make more milk) so I'm using 2 1/2 ounce bottles. When they get full, they overflow. This has happened to me a few times now. I think I'm watching and paying attention; the next thing I know I'm sitting in a puddle of breast milk. Fun. I'm not sure exactly how breastfeeding compares, but most people who breastfeed pump at times anyway.
The best place I've spilled milk? In my lap. In bed. In the middle of the night. A whole bottle overturned. And it's so sad because it's a product of so much effort! This must be where the phrase "Don't cry over spilt milk" originally came from.
3) You need a lot of supplies. I mentioned the need for a hands-free bra in an earlier post, but it's a MUST. Get it now. I'm sure you're planning on exclusively breastfeeding, but when it doesn't work, or if your baby has to go to the NICU, you're going to want this handy (the hospital will supply you with a pump and pump parts). When you get home, you're going to need lots more pump parts. I have 5 full sets plus a bunch of odds and ends. I was washing twice a day. Now I wash everything once and just one at a time in the middle of the day. You'll want a bottle brush for the bottles and horns, but otherwise there are no specialty tools to clean pump parts...it's just a pain in the butt.
You'll also want Lansinoh lanolin for your nipples. You want to keep them moist so that they don't crack (so you don't get mastitis or thrush). You can lubricate the flanges with lanolin also, but I prefer olive oil. I just keep it in a little tupperware container and use a paper towel to apply it.
I also have Medela quick clean wipes for times when I'm not around a sink, but they're expensive so I use them sparingly.
Oh and breast milk bags. I've used Target Up & Up and Lansinoh (everyone's favorite). I haven't defrosted any yet, but I've heard you should do it in a bowl in case the bag leaks. I'm going to try Honeysuckle brand next since you can get them in a larger quantity.
ETA: an electric sterilizer. Mine still hasn't come from Amazon, but I am completely over using microwaveable bags 6 times in a row to sterilize all of the parts.
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Pumping is hard. I know that breastfeeding is hard too, but they are different hards. You'll want to quit. You'll feel like your entire life is chained to the pump, but it does get better.
There is so much more to say, but I'll save it for another post. If anyone has pumping questions, please feel free to ask!
Also check out the Exclusive Pumping boards on BabyCenter or iVillage and Kellymom or LaLecheLeague.