Nov 13, 2014

Breastfeeding: Pumping

It's been a while since I've talked about my breastfeeding experience and now that I am nearing the end, now feels like a good time. In my last breastfeeding related post, I talked about the costs of breastfeeding that no one really warned me about nor did I think about until I was in the middle of all of it. This post is kind of the same thing but about pumping.  These are thoughts and ideas that I've came across along the way reading through forums, searching Pinterest and doing some talking with other moms.

1. Just keep doing it - This relates to that moment when you're sitting on your couch or at your desk at work pumping for the last 20 minutes, you look down, and you see this...

Less than an ounce. Total. From both boobs combined. It feels like such a waste of time and your mind almost immediately goes to "I don't even see the point of my next pumping session." There is a point though! You're signaling those things to make more milk. Your boobs and their milk supply, at least in my case, are pretty unpredictable. Just stick to your "schedule" and they'll most likely do what they need to do. Don't skip your next pump because you think you'll get less than 2 ounces.

2. Always, Always, Always have spare parts - Since my pump is a Medela PISA, I am only familiar with that brand and model, so these particular terms apply to it. I can't tell you how many times I ripped one of the membranes (the little white circle things that attach to the yellow things) during cleaning. Guess what happens if you rip one? Your pump doesn't pump that side. Who knew that one little round circle could have such an impact on a machine. Whenever I got down to one spare set, I bought another pack. They are like $6 and every once in a while Target has a cartwheel for breastfeeding accessories. Stock up on this crap when that happens! This same thing goes to tubing and shields. I was at work one day and noticed black stuff (I'm thinking mold somehow) in my tubing. Luckily I had another set at home and didn't have to go all day at work without pumping.

3. Become a little OCD with your routines - Your pumping routine, your cleaning routine and your morning routine for getting out of the house. The first 4 months of Tucker's life, I exclusively pumped and bottled fed him. Since Danny works 24 hour shifts, I had to learn to pump and feed at the same time: get bottle, prop baby up on Boppy, get pump hooked up to me and start pumping, feed baby, finish pumping, put baby in swing, deal with milk and parts. I did that 8 times a day. I put parts and bottles in my bag in the same order each morning and I clean them the same way every single night. I've forgotten something at home one time. I've read horror stories about moms leaving something at home and not realizing until they are at work, with a short lunch break and nowhere close to buy extra parts or a hand pump. If you've ever had engorged boobs, I'm sure you're having sympathy pains for those women right now.

4. Your pump output is like your grades in high school - It'll fall in the blink of an eye and you'll have to pump like its your job to get it back up. Power pumping(pump for 20 minutes, 10 minute break, pump for 10 minutes, 10 minute break, pump for 10 minutes) is the equivalent of that 2 page essay you had to do for like 10 extra points. You work on it for 4 nights and you get a 2% increase in your grade, except you get 2 more ounces. Except the difference is 2 ounces makes you want to throw a party and not bang your head against a locker.

5. Don't dump without at least sniffing it - I say at least, because you might even have to taste it. Go ahead and judge, but there have been times where Tucker would drink 1 oz of a 4 oz bottle, meaning 3 oz would go back in the fridge and come home with us after work. No way in hell I'm dumping 3/4 of a bottle. I always stuck it back in the fridge when we got home and sniffed it the next morning. If I couldn't tell if it was good or not, I would stick my clean finger in the bottle to get a little drop to taste. If you don't have kids yet and have never experienced the agony of dumping breastmilk down the drain, then save the judgement for when you do have to do that. Its painful. Because like the scenario in #1, 3 ounces could easily be the result of 40 minutes hooked up to the pump.

I hope these tips/thoughts on pumping don't scare you away from the idea of pumping. That's not what they are for. Hopefully you find them helpful if anything! I know if it weren't for reading a few of them, I would have quit months ago!


  1. What a great post! All 3 of my girls were breastfed, but I only pumped with my first, as I worked outside of the home then. That was 13 years ago, so many things have changed since then!

  2. You rocked the pumping/breastfeeding thing. I remember all the issues you were having. Congrats to coming to the end.

  3. Sounds like you got this shit down pat! These are things I definitely wouldn't have thought about so I appreciate the tips! :)