I chose to exclusively pump (EP). Yes, this can be a choice, your choice, and it can be an important one. I made this decision when I was pregnant and I prepared myself and set myself up for success. I was an over supplier which was a blessing and a curse but I felt confident in my choice to EP and did so for 15 months. How you may ask? I am here to tell you and share with you my top tips for Exclusively Pumping success.
1. Your support team. It is so important to have cheerleaders on your side rooting for you every step of the way. Someone to ask questions, talk to you at 0400 when everyone is sleeping and you are pumping, someone to share your successes and someone to cheer you up when you spill your milk on the floor for the first time. My support team was my best friend Jaimie, my husband, and a fellow pumping friend who I meet during my EP journey, Alison.
2. Set yourself up for success!! Do your research, ask questions, and figure out what you will need. Call your insurance company to find out what pump you qualify for and what pumps you can pay an upcharge for. Be sure to ask if they cover any pump parts too, some do.
3. Speaking of the pump, make sure you are getting a pump that works for you. By this, I mean one that works for your lifestyle. Do you want a lightweight portable option, a battery-operated one, one without cords/wires, or a cost-effective option? My choice was the Spectra S1 and I sure was happy with my choice. It was a portable and quiet hospital grade double electric pump that emptied me quickly and effectively. Tip: a good handheld manual pump (like the Medela Harmony Breast Pump) is helpful to remove clogs.
4. Set up a pumping area. Snacks, water, pumping supplies, extra bottles, a towel, pump, dry erase marker (to write dates and times on your bottle). A designated area conveniently located for you to be comfortable to pump in both day and night.
5. Learn what supplies are needed. Your pump will come with the items that you need to physically pump but there are extras to help make the process easier, more comfortable, faster, and more convenient. All EP mamas should have a hands-free pumping bra. They allow you to do things while you pump: imagine holding your baby, playing with your baby, folding laundry, doing dishes, cooking dinner. Day to day activities can be done because you have your hands again. Some tasks require some practice and coordination but all are doable.
Another great item to have is nipple butter/cream. This is great to use from the start, protect your nipples and also help heal any trauma. Buy a few different kinds; they have different textures, smells, and consistencies. You can also use coconut oil as well.
Now that you have your pump, hands-free bra and nipple butter let’s explore some additional comforts for pumping. My favorite extra was my Pumpin Pals. They are a significantly more comfortable flange than what the standard pumps come with. They are shaped more like your breasts and emptied me way faster. Use discount code: mamacoach4 now through Jan 31st 2020 to get 4$ off any order 28$ or more on any Pumpin Pal product.
6. As far as a schedule, similar to nursing, you will want to pump as often as your baby eats. Initially, it can help to create a schedule of pumping every 2-3ish hours until your supply regulates. Once your supply regulates around 12 weeks you will still want to keep a schedule but it can be more flexible to maintain supply. listen to your breasts, they will tell you when it’s time to pump
7. Explore your pump and your breasts while EPing. Try different settings and see what’s most effective for you. Tip: what works initially may need to be adjusted after some time, so continue to adjust time and settings based on output. And if your output suddenly drops, it may be time to change your pump parts. And explore your breasts. By this I mean get comfortable with them. It is important to massage while pumping, this can help improve output and can prevent clogs.
Remember that pumping takes practice and that each exclusively pumping journey looks different. What works for one, might not work for you. Try different techniques and if it works great and if not try another. You got this mama!!! If you have any additional questions reach out to a local Mama Coach near you, we are here to help!!