Let me just start off by saying I am very blessed for being able to breastfeed my baby, especially for this long. But, breast pumping is something that I did not prepare myself for. It is annoying, uncomfortable and quite frankly an inconvenience.
I knew I wanted to breastfeed before I ever became pregnant. I felt comfort in knowing she would be getting my vitamins and antibodies. It’s just something I knew I would try my hardest to accomplish. I had no idea just how hard that was going to be.
Long story short, I ended up exclusively pumping for the first 3 months of Hadleigh’s life due to latch problems and completely destroyed nipples. For those first few months I LOVED pumping. I had an oversupply so I was able to save tons of milk, pumped on a predictable schedule and my nipples eventually healed!
After a few months I decided to give nursing another go and we were FINALLY successful! But, I still do pump at least once a day. I have learned so much about pumping during these last 10 months of motherhood, so I thought I would share some of my breast pumping tips with you mamas!
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I want to start off with a breast pump review. I have used this Lansinoh Smartpump since day one. It isn’t the fanciest, most expensive pump, but it works very well for me!
Lansinoh Smartpump Review
- Double electric pump: this for me is a must-have. Manual, one-sided pumps have a place and time, but for your everyday breast pump make sure it’s double electric! Saves you so much time!
- Comes with an app: one of the most unique things about this pump is the phone app it comes with. It uses Bluetooth to track your pump times. You can manually enter the amount you pumped each session. You can also record the number of wet diapers and feedings you’ve done for you baby which is good for the first few months of the baby’s life.
- Has 3 pumping styles & 8 suction levels: having a variety of suction power and patterns helps to create the best combination that works for you so you can get the most milk out of your sessions!
- Has battery powered option: this is great if you’re in the car or traveling anywhere. You don’t have to worry about an adapter, just pop in some batteries and you’re good to go!
- Includes an LCD screen: I know some pumps don’t have a screen, but this one does! And, it displays the amount of time you’ve pumped as well as the level and pumping style settings you are using. It also lights up so if you’re pumping in the middle of the night you can actually read it.
- Closed system: this means the milk doesn’t get to the motor. It has a filter that catches any milk before getting to the working parts. This is more hygienic and prevents bacteria build-up
- Small & lightweight: this pump is soooo light and is easy to pack! Which makes it easy for traveling!
- Comfortable flanges: the flanges have a rubber coating on the edges so it doesn’t irritate your skin. There are also multiple size flanges the pump comes with to enhance comfort and produce more effective milk expression
- User friendly: at first, I will admit, I was a little intimidated at all of the parts. But once you set it all up and read through the easy-read directions you are good to go!
- Dishwasher safe: you can put the parts in the dishwasher with soap and water!
- Buttons wear off: after those 3 months of chronic use of my pump, the button labels started to wear off. Luckily, I remembered what they were since I used it so often!
- Noise: I think there are louder pumps out there, but this is definitely not silent. Can be a bit tricky if you’re trying not to wake up a napping baby…mine eventually got used to the sound
- Flanges wear out: eventually my flanges started to not hold as tight of a suction. I’ve had to replace them once.
Overall, I would recommend this pump! It might not be as convenient as the Freemie breast pump, but it does the job and is a great price (possibly even free!) Now, here are some of my general breast pumping tips…
Breast pumping tips
- Look into Aeroflow: this is a free website service that helps you find out if your insurance covers a breast pump, which it most likely does. You fill out a simple form and then within a couple of days they will provide you with breast pump options that are covered by your insurance. It will also provide you with discounted pump options.
- Get multiple pump parts: especially if you are working. I actually ended up getting another pump entirely to leave at work. I got it on Ebay so it was cheap. It was easier than hauling my pump everywhere and having to remember to pack all of the parts. If you don’t want to do this you can purchase another tubing set, flanges and suction parts to keep at work and so that you aren’t constantly cleaning. Plus, you’ll have extra on hand in case something gets lost!
- Get a hands free pumping bra: this is definitely a must-have. You can multitask while you are pumping by feeding your baby at the same time or whatever chore you’re trying to get done. I got the Medela pump bra from Amazon. They do run small!
- Storage: the Lansinoh or Up&Up breast milk storage bags worked well for me. Make sure to freeze them flat by putting them under a plate or placing them in an empty wipe container. I also purchased these breast milk storage units for my freezer to keep everything organized. Be sure to label your bags with the date. The rule of thumb for storage I go by is the 7-7-7 rule. Milk is good for 7 hours at room temp, 7 days in fridge and 7 months in the freezer. There are a lot of different opinions about this, but that rule has worked for us.
- Lube your flanges: I found that my nipples would still get a little sore from pumping. I would run coconut oil inside the flanges to help prevent skin breakdown and keep everything smooth. You can also use nipple butter or lanolin cream.
- Pump right away: I know there are a lot of people out there that warn against pumping right after giving birth. It can cause an oversupply which can lead to clogged ducts and mastitis. However, I ended up pumping 3 days after giving birth (with the okay from a lactation specialist). We had latch problems, so if I would have waited 2 weeks to pump like the recommended time frame, my milk would have dried up since I was unable to breastfeed. I have yet to get mastitis (knock on wood). I did have a little oversupply but it ended up being a blessing for when I went back to work (since I was able to create a stash). Every body is different so do whatever you are comfortable with. This was just my experience.
- Pump first thing in the morning and before bed: you produce the most milk right when you wake up in the morning, so this is the best time to pump. I also pump right before I go to bed. My daughter goes to sleep 4 hours before me, so there is plenty of milk to spare. You can save this and put it in storage or use it for a middle of the night feed.
- Be consistent: make sure, at the very least, you are pumping the same amount of times your baby is eating per day. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand mechanism, so in order to keep up with what your baby needs, make sure you’re pumping every time he eats. I would always pump a couple extra times so I could start creating a stash. Eventually I was able to get into a pumping schedule, which is optimal for organizing your day and for allowing your body to produce the most milk. Your body will start becoming accustomed to the times of day you are pumping, which promotes more milk production.
- Pump long enough: make sure you are pumping an adequate amount of time. Some moms like to pump long enough to have 2 letdowns. I personally wanted to be on the pump as little as possible. Every body is different so some might take longer than others to empty, but the general rule is to pump at least 10 minutes.
- Don’t skip steps: for example, most pumps have a “letdown” setting. On my pump this is a 2 minute light suctioning mode that preps your breasts to express the milk. Some moms might be tempted to get straight into the powerful suctioning mode, but this can lead to a less successful session. Make sure you read the instructions on your pump to make sure you are doing everything correctly!
- Massage breasts while pumping: this can help get more expressed milk during your session.
Last but not least, make sure you are doing something for YOU each day. Exclusively pumping, part-time pumping and nursing are all hard work, time consuming and can be stressful. And your body will produce less milk if you are stressed! So take the time to treat yourself every single day!
If anyone is interested in learning more tips on starting a breast milk stash, check out this How to Build a Breast Milk Stash video I made! I give some extra pointers in there.
I hope these breast pumping tips were helpful! If your baby is starting to wean you might want to check out my solid food ideas and feeding routine! Thanks for reading!