Let's let the pictures do the talking on this one.
The first is all of my pump and bottle parts in the sink. I have enough "stuff" to go almost 2 days between washes. I had 8 sets of pump parts - then got my sister's when she was done. Now that I only pump 3x a day, I'm totally set.
But you also need a vehicle to get the milk into the baby's mouth! Ideally, he'd eat directly from the Medela bottle, but you know my baby is special, so he gets his Dr. Brown's bottles and accompanying parts. I have 2 - 2 ounce bottles, 6 - 4 ounce, and 5 - 8 ounce. I use the 8 ounce bottles for mixed formula.
The last picture is my favorite. It takes some skill to get all of that mess to fit on a rack! I love my First Years drying rack. The one on the left is actually the inside racks from my sterilizer (which I obviously don't use much...whoops!).
The point here is really just to show the reality behind exclusively pumping. It's not glamorous and it's not just the hours stuck to the pump that are a bitch. And I don't want to leave out your WOHMs who are having to pump now that you are going back to work. In many ways I think it would be even harder if you didn't "have" to do it.
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More about pumping:
I just came across a thread on a forum bemoaning low supply. She mentioned that she is 11 weeks post-partum and pumps 6 times a day. RED FLAG!!!! If you are going to exclusively pump, do a little bit of research (or read some of my pumping posts)!
But here are the basics:
- Pump at least 8x a day for at least 12 weeks (you need to simulate a baby's feeding schedule in order to produce enough milk for said baby)
- Pump for 5 minutes after the last drop while building supply (I've never pumped less than 30 minutes)
Actually, those two facts are the basics. Here is some more advanced info:
- Try all different sizes of flanges - I use two different sizes - not because one nipple is bigger than the other, just because it feels better (one nipple would always angle and hit the side which hurt, so I use a bigger flange on that side). You can also check out Pumpin' Pals. Some people swear by them. I hated them.
- Drop pumps slowly. You might think your supply has actually increased after you drop a pump. But it takes about a week to really see the full picture.
- You can lubricate with lanolin or olive oil. I preferred olive oil. You probably won't need anything after the first couple of months. And lanolin stain shirts. I learned this one the hard way...and learned slowly so I have quite a few tanks with unsightly spots.
- Pump on the lowest speed that produces milk. I turn my pump on to the very slightest spot where it's actually on. I still don't find it comfortable, but at least I don't have blisters (I did the first week. Lesson learned.)
- At least once a day, do breast compressions while pumping. Pumping is not as efficient as a baby and I find that if I don't "help the pump out" occasionally, I get plugged ducts or just don't empty well enough. I basically squeeze the spots that don't feel empty. I'll usually get a stream of milk while squeezing until that spot is empty, then I move on.
Last, if you EP, you WILL want to quit some day. My advice is not to quit immediately when you're feeling desperate, because you'll probably feel better the next day. If you don't...quit then.
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And now for some reader questions re: pumping. Feel free to ask me any questions you want, but please remember that I am not a doctor nor lactation consultant. I am speaking merely from my experience as well as my own research. The best information I have gotten has been from kellymom.com and the Exclusive Pumpers threads on iVillage and BabyCenter.
JB - Since I exclusively pump, I'm not sure if I can help, but I will try. It would be easiest if I could get some additional information. How many times a day are you currently feeding? How many hours have passed between your last feeding and your pumping session. How many times a day are you pumping?
For reference, when I was pumping 8x a day, I got 3-4 ounces per session (I would call myself a moderate producer...not high, not low). Now at 3x a day, I get 7 or 8 ounces. Increasingly supply means pumping more times per day and it might take a few days for your body to catch up. You can also try pumping for more minutes and DEFINITELY pump 5 minutes past the point of milk coming out to boost supply.
When you go back to work, you'll be pumping at work too...so just make sure you can build up enough for a day or two, then you should be close to even with what you are currently producing.
Megan - Are you pumping the same number of times for the same amount of time? Supply does ebb and flow a bit, but consistency is key to keeping supply steady overall. I had supply drops only when dropping pumps. At my peak, I was producing about 33 ounces. Now I'm getting about 22 (but that's plenty for me since Dylan eats about 8 a day of breast milk so I wasn't extremely careful).
You can also look into oatmeal and lactation cookies and fenugreek and all of that - I never needed to. My sister took every supplement under the sun include Domperidone and never significantly improved her supply. They work for some people, but it's not a magic cure.