Before anything, I need to reiterate that I am not a trained professional in any way. I am not an IBCLC nor am I even a nurse. I am simply a mom who has breastfed A LOT and has gone through many, many challenges first hand…and always persevered. I have breastfeed each of my four girls and am still breastfeeding my twins at 23 months!
So let’s talk about pumping. Below is a picture of me pumping with my first child back in 2014. It looks like I was still able to fit into my skinny jeans only 3 weeks PP. I thought I was such a badass being able to pump handsfree and also fold my newborn’s clothes all at the same time. Honestly, that is quite bad ass if you think about it!
That was a very difficult chapter for my first time PP journey, but I’ll get into that on another post. Just know that behind this picture were a lot of raw and sometimes sad emotions. Pictures can be deceiving at times.
I began pumping right away because my first daughter had a difficult time latching on and didn’t seem to ever be satisfied. Everyone told me to wait until about 3 weeks before I started pumping so that I could establish a relationship with my daughter and a bottle not interfere her ability or desire to nurse. Unfortunately for me, that wasn’t possible. I had to start pumping almost the day we got home from the hospital because she was very jaundice and not passing her billirubens out of her system quick enough.
WHEN SHOULD I HAVE STARTED PUMPING? That being said, it is very important that if your baby does not nurse immediately postpartum, mom should begin pumping within about 6 hours of baby’s birth because starting early will make a difference for future milk production, according to Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC from kellymom.com.
My Parker was tongue tied very slightly so when we were in Children’s Hospital for her to have constant light therapy for her jaundice, they snipped her tongue tie and her latch was much, much better after that. This was a very traumatizing thing for me to witness as a new, first time mom. My baby cried and cried. They said the nerve ending under the tongue are not yet developed and the reason the baby cries is because they don’t like having a finger in their mouth to stop the bleeding. I don’t know that I believe this. It could have easily been something they told me so I didn’t think my baby was in a lot of pain.
I get asked so often about milk supply and mamas not feeling like they are producing enough. Here’s a quick example of how much you should be producing depending on your baby’s age:
HOW MUCH SHOULD I BE PUMPING/PRODUCING? The first few days of life, the baby’s belly is the size of a grape, then a walnut, and at around a week the size of an egg. Their teeny tiny bellies do not need much to get full quickly. At a week old and older, mama should be pumping about 25 oz a day or 32 oz for twins. That may be less and that’s okay! There’s ways to boost your supply with galactagogues (herbs or foods to increase supply).
According to kellymom.com research states that 2 weeks is a good indicator of breastfeeding outcome. However, I usually tell mamas to give it 3 weeks because that’s what seemed to always be my threshold. My nipples finally simmered down and my supply seemed to come in full around the three week marker. “Even if milk production doesn’t start out well, however, don’t get discouraged–many moms will see an increase (even as late as 9-15 weeks after birth) if they continue with regular pumping.” states Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC.
I’ll be honest, my goal was to exclusively breastfeed my twins to a year. I can feel good saying that we did that, however I always like to add an *almost* exclusive. We definitely supplemented in those first few weeks. My body had to realize that I was producing for two, not one, and that took a little time.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I PUMP? That will depend on your goals and your current situation. If you are exclusively pumping, you should pump as often as your baby would be otherwise nursing. Typically that is 8-10 times a day or approximately every 2-3 hours. Also, making sure to pump through the night will definitely keep your supply up. When mamas start going more than 5-6 hours in between a pumping or nursing session, that is when supply significantly starts to decrease.
HOW LONG SHOULD MY SESSION BE? My pumping sessions would usually last about 15-20 minutes. You can give or take 5 minutes or so. Please be advised that if you go much longer than that or just happen to lose track of time, the picture below could happen.
Surprisingly, this did not hurt nearly as bad as it looks because they were not open sores, but this could have been very, very bad for me so just be careful not to go too long or have the setting too high! Here is a HUGE TIP that I didn’t learn until my second or last(s): massage your breast as you are pumping. Just like a cow’s udders are squeezed when they are “milked,” do this to your breast. Start at the top and press down toward your nipple. You want to literally move the milk down and out. When I used to do this, it would result in usually 2 more ounces per breast AFTER my session was pretty much over. It’s so important to make sure that the breast is fully emptied after each session.
My biggest advice with pumping is to get a good pump that fits properly. Make sure you have utilized your free pump through insurance if you live in the United States. Every single insurance company provides a free pump for each individual pregnancy/birth. I personally received THREE FREE PUMPS. Here are two providers of free pumps: PUMPING ESSENTIALS and EDGEPARK MEDICAL SUPPLIES.
Please leave a comment below to let me know your experiences and if you have any tips of your own and also what other content you’d like to see on my blog!
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