Back in November I made the decision to stop trying to breastfeed Liam after having a lot of issues. You can read about my decision to do so here. I thought I would chat a little more about what it takes to exclusively pump, what products I use, etc. There are not many people who exclusively pump out there and it’s hard to find advice and support. I want to be able to help another mamma in the same situation.
First up, let’s talk about the stuff I use! I’ve been through four different breast pumps since starting. At first I had a Medela Mini Electric that I had purchased right after Liam was born. It wasn’t going to hold up for exclusive pumping so I had find something else. I ended up renting a hospital grade Medela double pump, which is recommended to use for a couple months to build your supply. Unfortunately it was $100/month to rent so I only kept it for one month. After that I was lucky enough to be lent a Medela In Style from the lending library at my chiropractor’s office. This one worked great until the motor died (it was quite old and had seen a lot of use in it’s days). I then invested in a Medela Freestyle. It was stupid expensive but I’m very happy with it. My chiropractor has already offered to buy it off me when I’m done so I’m kind of glad to be able to make back some money on it.
I love that it has a belt clip and battery so I can be mobile while I’m pumping. I can get more stuff done around the house instead of being tied down. It also makes pumping on the go easier. It also comes with hands free straps, but I could never get them to fit quite right. What I used for a hands free bra was an old sports bra with holes cut into it to fit the flanges into. It worked but it wasn’t ideal because I would wear a nursing bra over that. The tightness of the sports bra also contributed to a lot of plugged ducts, which weren’t fun. I’ve seen ordered a Pump Ease hands free bra that works great and it’s cute to boot (not that anyone sees it, haha). I highly recommend the products I’m using right now for any pumping mammas, regardless if you are pumping full time or not.
As for the rest, let me tell you that EPing is a lot of work. Especially because Liam was on a two hour schedule, which meant he was eating and I was pumping every.two.hours. UGH. When you want to do anything aside from sit at home, pumping becomes a huge pain. I’m currently trying to get Liam’s schedule down to three hours, which I should have done awhile ago and then hopefully by next month I can extend it to four so I will be pumping less often. He still gets the same amount of food, just in larger quantities less often.
For the longest time I was getting up twice a night on top of when Liam woke to feed, to pump. That got old real quick when Liam was only waking once or sleeping through the night. I decided to drop to one pump. I’ve now stopped setting an alarm to pump. I will do it once I’ve fed Liam if he wakes, or just get up if I wake up on my own in the night. If it happens that neither myself nor Liam wakes, then so be it. I used to be worried about losing my supply if I didn’t pump regularly, but it’s well established by now so I am trying to catch up on six months of no sleep!
I have been storing about 15oz per day, which is about half of what Liam consumes in a day. In theory I should have enough frozen milk to last Liam another 2.5 months right now. I’m hoping to get him eating solids three times a day within the next month or two and hopefully his milk consumption will go down. (If anyone knows about how much an average babies milk consumption goes down with solids, that would be great! I keep hearing opposing things.) I’m to the point where I’m very ready to be done pumping, but I would like to provide Liam with breast milk until he’s 12 months. Which means I still have a few months to go. I would love to be done for summer so it doesn’t get in the way of hanging out in the sun having fun. If I continue storing 15oz a day, I should be able to quick by July. I’m hoping that dropping the number of pumps during the day will help it not seem like such an inconvenient burden and allow me more time to be out and about without fear of having to pump (and deal with the baby) in public.
I know that since breastfeeding didn’t work I could have easily just gone the formula route. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with formula, I was a formula fed baby. But I wanted to be able to cut down on expenses and provide my baby with antibodies if we got sick, etc. Choosing to provide breast milk was my choice and I was willing to do what it took. Please remember that you need to do what’s best for your family.
If any of you mamas have any pumping questions, I’m pretty much the queen and would be happy to help you out!