Wednesday, June 6, 2012

pump, pump, pump it up

What is this thing they call "pumping?" my pre-baby mind thought.  I really had no idea.  I didn't know why you did it, what it looked like, and definitely didn't know what it sounded like.  I had this obscure image of a woman holding cone-like things and crying out in pain.

I had to figure out very quickly how to use my pump though.  When Duke was 6 days old, our band played in Stillwater and I left him with my parents.  (6 days old!!  I can't believe I did that.  I'm gasping with you.)

So, here are some things to know about pumping:

1.  How often you plan to pump determines what kind of pump you should have.  I use the Medela Single Deluxe Pump and I usually pump once a day.  This one is electric or battery operated.  I go the battery route.  I love this pump because it's so easy to throw in your purse if you're going to be away from your baby.

(photo credit here)

2.  If you are going the battery route, change them once your pump starts sounding like a dying Darth Vader.  Although it's fun that it sounds like part of a dubstep song, it's just not very efficient.
3.  If your pump randomly stops working, don't go buy a new one!  You may just need to give the shield a good cleaning.  If it's not clean, it won't pump sometimes.  I clean it before every use.
4.  Get Pump and Save Bags (or some kind of appropriate storage bags for breast milk).  You pump, write the date/ounce amount on the package, and throw it in the freezer.  If you happen to pump straight into the Pump and Save Bag, it looks like you have more ounces than you actually do.  That's why I always pump into a bottle first, get the accurate ounce count, and then pour it into a bag.
5.  I have a drawer in my kitchen designated for all things pumping.  To me, it makes the most sense to keep it all in the kitchen.
6.  If you're away from your baby and needing to pump, do it while you're in the car on the way to wherever you're going.  That's what I've found to be the easiest and least stressful.  Just bring your nursing cover in the car and pump underneath it.
7.  For optimal pumping results (with my pump, at least), I should pump a total of 20 minutes - 5 on left, 5 on right, 5 on left, 5 on right.
8.  You may not pump the amount that your baby really eats.  If your baby eats around 6 ounces each feeding and you're pumping during a feeding because you're away, you may or may not pump 6 ounces.  Pumps pumping just aren't the same as babies eating.  Also, your let down may not be stimulated with a pump.  If I'm pumping in place of a feeding, I pump for 15-20 minutes, give myself a pat on the pack, and call it a day.  Even if you don't achieve all the ounces you want to, it's better than nothing!
9.  This is a weird one so I'm just going to say it and be done with it.  Massage while you pump.
10.  Feel like you're losing your supply?  Then pump!  Even if you're never away from your kid and never see a need to pump, it's nice to have one around for this reason.  You can always boost your supply back up by pumping after feedings.
11.  When should you pump?  Obviously if you're pumping in place of a feeding, do it at the normal time that you would feed.  Otherwise, if you're feeding and pumping, I do it right after the feeding.  I've found that works best for me.

(Whew!  How many times did I use the words "pump" and "pumping?"  Too many.)

We do weird stuff for our kids.  We pick their noses, we wipe their butts, and we have collections of frozen breast milk in our freezers ready for nights when we actually get away but then spend the whole time feeling guilty about it.  Oh, it's a vicious cycle.  But, I love you, Duke.  Remember this when you're coming home from school as a 17 year old and rolling your eyes at me as I way too enthusiastically ask, "How was your day?"  Not that I did that to my mom or anything ...


  1. Great information on pumping!! It was so hard to investigate everything about pumping in those newborn days. For someone who is pumping more than once a day I would recommend the Medela Pump In Style Advanced. It's expensive, but worth it. I have dragged that pump all over the place and pump multiple times a day when I'm at work or clinicals and it is still working great after 10 months. It pumps both sides at once and it usually takes me about 10 minutes. Pumping is like breastfeeding-it takes practice-the more you do it the easier it is to get the milk out that you need. I second the breast massage while pumping!

    1. I've heard good things about that pump! Props to you for pumping and working!

  2. Claire I love your blog...wish I had it to read two years ago! If you " double pump" consider getting a "pumping" bra so your hands can be free or able to help compress. I have a love hate relationship with the pump and you kindda get an obsession with your freezer stash...

    1. Yes, I was a bit obsessed with my freezer "collection" at first. haha Luckily, I've relaxed. :)

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  4. Were it not for the invention of the breast pump, my 1 month old preemie twins would never have had the benefit of receiving my breast milk. I have rented the hospital grade Medela Symphony (the "big guns"). Per a lactation consultant, that's the best pump to teach my preterm body that it needs to get going and feed two babies. I used the Symphony first after delivery while still in the hospital and up at the babies' bedside in the NICU. For the first 2 1/2 weeks I was pumping 9 times a day (every 2 hours) and getting very small amounts. I am now pumping every 3 hours (after each feed).

    My babies' mouths are still too small to achieve a good latch without a nipple shield and they aren't efficient enough to actually empty enough milk for a whole feeding. We've been bottle feeding them my breast milk and unfortunately having to supplement with a preemie formula.

    I have such an unconventional breastfeeding story already, hoping soon it will look more normal. I would love to solely nurse them and phase out that blasted pump. Oh, and I second getting a handsfree pumping bra, best $34 I've spent in a long time! I recommend the Simple Wishes Handsfree Bra:

    Your statement is so true, "we do weird stuff for our kids."

    1. I'm so impressed with you Sara! I can't imagine how tricky it would be to keep your supply up with your babies in the NICU. I hope things will start to be more "normal" for you soon. :)


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