Five Things I Wish I’d Known About Pumping Before I Gave Birth

I began nursing my daughter and didn’t plan on going back to work, so I didn’t think I would be pumping too much. In an effort to increase my milk supply and have some back-up, however, I ended up pumping more than I anticipated. Here are five things I wish I would have known before I gave birth:

1. They make hands-free bras!: Yes, there is such a thing as hands-free pumping bras! This is huge if you’re dual pumping! You can also make your own by cutting holes in an old sports bra or using a nursing bra and four rubber bands. You can Google for all of the options and how-to’s!

2. Stress and Negative Emotions Kill Your Output: If you’re stressing about how little milk you’re getting, it only perpetuates the problem. I had a disagreement with my husband while I was pumping and got next to nothing. Ask your friends, stress and bad emotions can kill your milk supply and ability to let down milk. Make a cup of tea, take a deep breath, close your eyes and think of your baby. I scroll through pictures I’ve taken of my baby girl on my phone and that really helps me let down and relax.

3. You Don’t Have to Wash Your Flanges & Bottles Between Every Pump: If, like me, you’re pumping after every nursing session or you’re exclusively pumping, you don’t have to thoroughly wash your parts each time. I dump my milk into a separate bottle and put it in the fridge, then I throw my flanges and pump bottles in the fridge until the next pump. It keeps them sanitary and saves washing until the end of the day; and the chilled flanges feel really great on your boobs.

4. You Should Change Your Parts Regularly: Pumps have valves, membranes, and tubing. All of these parts can have an impact on the efficiency of the pump and its ability to draw out milk. If you notice a decrease in your pumping output, it’s important to check your membranes for any holes or put on fresh ones if you haven’t in a while. If you pump regularly you should change the membranes every 7 weeks or so. Some women change them every month. You shouldn’t have to replace the tubing unless there is a hole in it or damage. Sometimes milk accumulates in it, so it’s best to swirl it around to get it out or give it a wash and make sure you get all of the water out of it. Just make sure no one is in close proximity when you start swirling or they may be in for a welt the size of Texas. Make sure all of your body parts are out of the way too!

5. Your Baby Is More Efficient at Retrieving Milk than a Pump: When I would pump, I would get discouraged that I wasn’t getting enough milk; and I worried my baby was not getting sufficient nutrition. In talking to my lactation consultant and in research, babies are waaayy more efficient at getting milk out than the pump. While the pump can be a helpful estimate,it is not an accurate measure of how much milk you’re producing. If you’re wondering if your baby is getting enough milk, you can do weighed feedings with consultants (which are not always accurate either) or you can measure wet and dirty diapers. Measuring wet and dirty diapers is the most effective way of telling whether your baby is getting enough to eat. There are charts available online that will tell you what you’re looking for. Also, if your baby seems satisfied and is regularly gaining weight, you probably have absolutely nothing to worry about!

By Holly M.
BabyChatter Contributor