A few days ago, Oliver turned seven months old (where did the time go?). This also marks seven months of breastfeeding for us and six and a half months of exclusively pumping for this sweet baby. Exclusively pumping has been hard and frustrating, but it's also been so rewarding (click here to read our story on how we got here).
In this post, I'll be talking about about mistakes I made when first beginning to pump and a few things I've learned along the way.
When I registered for Ollie's baby shower, I put down a single, manual pump. I figured nursing would work for us and I'd only have a minimal amount of pumping to do, if ever. So when I began pumping exclusively, a single manual pump was all I had. It was horrible. The pump worked great (I still use it from time to time in fact), it was just a nightmare spending 20 minutes per side, every 2-3 hours with a screaming baby next to you. I remember stepping into the shower every night for a few weeks and just breaking down crying from stress and exhaustion. I called my insurance company as soon as I could to figure out a pump they would cover. I was positively skipping when I got my double electric pump.
After I began pumping, there were so many things I didn't know. For instance, I didn't know you were suppose to pump every 2-3 hours around the clock for the first month or two. My first week of pumping, I pumped every 4 or 5 hours. My supply was still up from frequent nursing, so when I would pump I would get enough everyday to feed Oliver. Because of that, I didn't think of pumping more frequently. A week after beginning, my supply tanked. Breastfeeding is based on "supply-demand", and the spread out pumpings weren't giving my body enough "demand". We supplemented with formula and I began pumping every two hours while I was awake and every three hours through the night. It stunk. My supply slowly crept back up. I tried a few things rumored to help milk supply, but water and oatmeal were the only things that really helped. When I went back to work, I dropped to pumping every 3 hours and didn't have too much of a problem.
Things I've learned:
1. Drink water like it is your job. Nothing else helped nudge my daily numbers upward except oatmeal.
2. Keep track of the ounces your produce per day and figure out your weekly averages. Chances are, you're doing better than you think you are.
3. Buy/make/jimmy-rig a hands-free pumping bra and multitask like a boss. Seriously saved my sanity.
4. Hand express after pumping- I've gotten an addition ounce sometimes when I hand express following a pump.