Before I jump into this post, I wanted to mentioned two things!
- I post a ton of links throughout this post. These are not affiliate links, and I in no way am benefitting from you clicking on them. I simply included these links to help you out and to make it most convenient for you to see what products I’m mentioning! Enjoy!
- While this post is most beneficial for exclusive pumpers, any mom who pumps can benefit from it. Most moms, even exclusive breastfeeders, eventually pump because they need to go back to work or go out of town. So if you ever plan on pumping, keep on reading!
Establish Your Pumping Schedule
In order to establish and maintain a high supply of breastmilk, you’ll need to pump every 2-3 hours around the clock. This means you should pump 8-12 times a day! But don’t worry. After you’ve established your supply around 3 months, most women are able to drop a few of the day’s pumps. As a side note, this is what is recommended. But I pump an average of 7-8 times a day, sometimes even 6. Do what works best for you. I completely get it if you’re a little too busy and tired to be pumping every two hours. If you need an extra hour of sleep at night, take it. Or if you’re too busy during the day and go past that 2-3 hour mark, it’s okay. But keep an eye out for a drop in supply! If you notice the amount you pump is decreasing, you’l need to be better about pumping more frequently. Just figure out what works best for you and your body.
Most women drop the middle-of-the-night pump because baby is finally sleeping through most of the night — and so should mom! Keep in mind you’ll want to pump for at least 15 minutes, until you’ve completely emptied both of your breasts. But if i’m being honest, I was lucky if I pumped for 10 minutes those first few exhausting weeks. Depending on when you go to sleep and wake up, your pump schedule may look something like this:
I’ve never been enough of an over-achiever to pump every two hours! But the more often you pump the more breastmilk your body will produce! Also, you’ll want to do your best to pump at the same time everyday! Your body will get on the schedule too, and you’ll start noticing your letdown happens before you’ve even started to pump!
Storing Your Breastmilk
I pump directly into bottles. I use the Medela bottles and Dr. Brown’s bottles because they screw right onto both of my Medela pumps! After pumping, I’ll store the bottles in the refrigerator. My daughter is currently eating about 4oz at a time, so if I don’t pump 4oz into each bottle, I’ll combine both bottles after pumping and store the one bottle in the refrigerator. By doing this, I can easily grab a bottle out of the fridge without worrying about measuring it.
At any given time, I have anywhere from 4-10 bottles in my refrigerator. I have a system to where I’m always using the “oldest” milk first (which is usually only 2 days old). When I put my freshly pumped milk in the refrigerator, I put it in the back of the row of bottles. Then, when I go to grab a bottle to feed baby girl, I take the milk at the front of the row. This ensures I’m cycling through my milk and no milk is getting too old! Once I have about 10 bottles in the refrigerator (and am running out of bottles to use!), that’s when it is time to freeze and store all my extra breastmilk.
Cleaning Pump Parts and Bottles
I’ll let you in on a product that I’m absolutely in LOVE with because it makes my life as an exclusive pumper a little easier! It’s a Sarah Wells “Pumparoo” that you can buy on Amazon. Rather than have to clean your pump parts every time you use them, you can simply rinse them off and put them in the Pumparoo bag. Then you put the bag in the refrigerator! It is cold enough to where bacteria won’t grow on them too quickly, so you can get away with not washing them every time you use them. By doing this, I only actually wash my pump parts with soap and water twice a day — once in the morning and once at night.
I first started doing this system with gallon ziplock bags, but I felt like I was hurting the environment (and my wallet) by using a disposable bag every night. Plus, if you’re pumping at work or anywhere in public, you can carry the cute Pumparoo bag around without everyone knowing what is in it! This really comes in handy if you’re storing your pump parts in a refrigerator at your work that everyone uses.
The Pumparoo also has a staging mat attached to it, so you can set your pump and bottle pieces out on it without worrying about putting it on a dirty surface! I’ll get off my Pumparoo soapbox now. A coworker of mine recommended it to me, so I really just want to share the love!
Organizing and Storing Pump and Bottle Parts
I bought everything I use to organize, clean, and store my pump parts and bottles on Amazon! After using my Dr. Browns brush to clean all of my parts with hot water and soap, I let them dry on my Boon Grass Drying Rack. I even bought the cute Boon attachments to dry smaller parts! Once everything has dried, I like to sterilize it. This is the sterilizer I use. Then, everything gets put away in either the basket or one of the 3-drawer organizers! If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ve probably caught onto how much I love organization! This little area of my kitchen makes me very happy!!
How to Boost Lactation
There are three main ways to help boost lactation: diet, supplements, and power pumping!
- Diet: Look up different kinds of lactation recipes, such as smoothies, cookies, and brownies. Head over to my freezer meal post to see the lactation recipes I made and froze in advance! Along with lactation-boosting foods, keep in mind you also need to be drinking a ton of water and consuming enough calories. Now isn’t the time to be dieting — water and calories are water your body needs to produce enough breastmilk.
- Supplements: Personally, I use the Postnatal Lactation Pills by the Honest Company. I like them because they include several supplements that are known to increase milk supply. You could buy these or you could buy the supplements, such as Fenugreek, separately. I do not take the pills everyday, just here and there if I notice a little drop in my supply.
- Power Pumping:Power Pumping is a way to tell your body that it needs to be producing more milk! Think about it, if you ever pump and hardly get any milk or even get no milk, it is not a waste of your time. You’re pretty much “putting in an order” to your body that it needs to be producing more. Power pumping is a way to “put in an order” to your body to make more. Power pumping happens over a single hour. You start the hour by pumping for 20 minutes. Then, you finish the hour by resting for 10 minutes, pumping for 10 minutes, resting for 10 minutes, and pumping for 10 minutes.
Other Useful Pumping Products to Have
This is the bra I like best. I’m thinking about investing in a second one so that I can rotate between the them while the other is washing. This bra makes it possible to hold your baby, scroll through Instagram, eat, or do anything you might need both hands for! Most moms claim they could never have made it exclusively pumping for as long as they did without one of these.
Extra Pump Parts: it’s nice to have extra pump parts for a few reasons. The first is in case any parts break (such as the tubing) you have an extra on hand and don’t have to wait until it gets shipped to you. Talk about engorgement! The second is for washing purposes. After washing pump parts, you can let them dry and know you’ll have other parts to use. Most breast pump companies sell these kits on amazon. Here is an example of an affordable one you could buy for Medela breast pumps.
These have been AWESOME to have! You can microwave them and put them on your breasts while you’re pumping. It will help you letdown and help empty your breasts. Then, you can also freeze them and put them on your breasts after pumping, which can help with engorgement and clogged ducts! Such a genius invention! I’m considering buying a second set so that I can microwave one set but still have another set waiting for me in the freezer when I’m done pumping.
Battery Pack Power Cord/Car Charger Power Cord: if you’re ever pumping on the go, such as in the car or somewhere that you may not have access to an outlet, you may want to have different types of power cords! You can pump on the way to work in your car — talk about multitasking. I personally have a car-charger power cord and a battery pack power cord.
If you have access to a microwave at work — or if you just like to have a quick way to clean pump parts/bottles at home, Medela Steam bags can make sterilizing so easy!
This is pretty much a pumping necessity! I have the Honest Company nipple cream and the Medela nipple cream, and I use either one after every pumping session.
Breastmilk Storage Bags:
If you’re planning on starting a freezer stash (which most women do for when they go back to work), you’ll want to buy freezer storage bags. The Lansinoh bags are all I’ve ever used. They freeze really flat, and I haven’t had any problems with leaks!
If this is your first child, I’ve got news for you. Your breastmilk is not a faucet you can turn on and off when you find convenient (this was a shock to me). You will leak…and usually at the most inconvenient times! To avoid smelling like breastmilk and having huge wet marks on your clothes, invest in some nursing pads. I first bought just these reusable, washable ones, but I was going through 3-4 pairs a day and didn’t want to have to do that much laundry. So now I’ll use them along with the disposable Lansinoh ones!