When I was pregnant, I was sure I was going to breastfeed. But when my son arrived, he didn’t latch. I was determined to give him breast milk. So I started pumping early on. He is now almost 3 months old, and pumping has become part of my daily routine. Here are some hacks and helps that have made my life a bit easier as a pumping mama.
Washing Bottles and Pump Parts:
This was such a pain in the beginning because the washing can pile up so fast. It truly is overwhelming if you don’t get a handle on it. Here’s what I do to keep my sanity.
- I have two basins: one for clean bottles and pump parts and another for dirty. I can easily transport from living room to bedroom to kitchen.
- Also, I use the dishwasher for the bottles, breast shields, and connectors. I use the BOON Span Dishwasher Net so that these don’t go flying all over the dishwasher. I love it so much that I have two!
- Nipples, bottle collars, valves, and membranes go in a large plastic cup with warm water and soap. I then rinse them and throw them in a Medela Quick Clean Sterilizing Bag with two ounces of water, and put it in the microwave for two minutes to sterilize. This saves me so much time!
- I do all this in the evening or during nap times. However, if I know I’m going to be gone all evening, it is wonderful to arrive to a whole set of clean bottles and pump parts. So I do this before I leave. This means I need to give myself 20 extra minutes before I leave, but believe me it’s worth it!
You can pump on the go. You don’t have to be restricted to your couch! What I do to make my life easier is I always have a ziplock bag with a set of double pump parts in the car.
Additionally, I keep a pumping bra and nursing cover in the car always. It’s not ideal, but I do drive and pump. It is important to be safe and always hook in BEFORE you buckle in and start driving. Then disengage once you’ve parked in a safe place. However, please don’t do it if you will get distracted with it. Safety first!
Night Pumping Hack :
One of the things I have come to hate since I had my son is pumping at night. And now that my son has been sleeping more through the night, it has been harder to get out of bed and all hooked up. So I have been keeping a manual breast pump on my night stand.
When I wake up to feed him, go to the bathroom, or if my breasts are starting to feel uncomfortable, I do a quick manual pump. This avoids engorgement and potential mastitis. (I got mastitis once, it is awful).
Building a Freezer Stash:
Two weeks ago I started storing 4 ounces of breastmilk in the freezer everyday to build a stash by the time I go back to work next month. But you can start anytime. Then just replenish your supply by pumping as much as you can at work. (Your workplace by law should allow you time to pump and a space to do so). I use these Lansinoh breast milk storage bags in the freezer because they have two zippers to avoid leaks.
This is a trick women use to increase their milk supply, but it is time-consuming. I did it several times during the first four weeks to establish a milk supply, but I had to have someone at home to help with the baby. It basically is a formula if 20-10-10.
- 20 minutes pumping, 10 minute rest
- 10 minutes pumping, 10 minute rest
- 10 minute pumping.
It mimics an infant having a growth spurt and feeding more, signaling to your body to make more milk.
Massaging Your Breasts:
I do this religiously, as it does help get more milk out. Start at your chest and gently massage in a circular motion towards the nipple. I promise more milk will come out even when you think you’ve emptied your breast.
These can be expensive so I just cut holes in an old sports bra.
Finally, use pumping time to relax because you produce more milk when you relax.
At night after my son would go to sleep, I would read. I just finished reading the entire Harry Potter series all while pumping. Being a new mom is so intense and can quickly consume your entire sense of being. So taking some time for yourself is not only relaxing but necessary.
There is a chapter of La Leche League in Albuquerque that has several meet-ups scheduled throughout the week. They provide so much good information and support!