So it’s been a few years since I’ve pumped breastmilk and most of the time, I don’t ever want to think about it. Let’s be honest, it’s the WORST part of the whole baby raising process. I’ve never heard a mom who has said they loved pumping and if you’re in that group of loving to pump, good for you but I think that’s psychotic. I hate… hate… hate…. pumping.
To minimize my angst towards pumping, my good friend let me in on her trick. Somehow she was able to pump only TWICE a day and still got about 800ml+ a day. I was in shock the first time I heard it but I knew I wanted to make it happen because pumping every 3-4 hours was ridiculous. How do people function and survive in this world with disturbed sleep at night? It’s not only the disturbed sleep but also moms who are with their babies during the day. Imagine pumping and then your baby cries… you stop the pump and care of the baby and your milk is left there in the bottle and then somehow you have to find the time to go back and pump some more later. I dreaded the sound of the pump, the word pump, the sight of the pump, and the physically act of pumping. Less times a day will be a blessing.
I used the medela pump. I’m not saying it’s the best but it does the job, it’s strong enough and the parts are easily found. It’s not the most expensive and it’s not the cheapest but I definitely found it sufficient and useful.
I found that their flanges were not as great as the other flange company called Pumpin’ Pal. I discovered these new flanges on my second pregnancy. Not cheap but much better milk extraction and saved me more time. I’d say you probably save about 20% of the work. They have a starter pack with a couple sizes that you can try and once you find your size, you can buy a few sets of that size if you like. I always liked to buy a few sets so I’m not washing it all the time throughout the day.
- When the baby was first born, I let the baby drink directly from the breast for the first two days because the first few drops of milk is “golden” and includes all the natural vaccines the baby could ever hope for! I didn’t want to waste any of it inside a flange or bottle and since the first 2 days you’re not getting more than a few drops of milk anyway, it’s better to let baby drink direct.
- Build Up Phase: Day 3 is when I started pumping. I would put the pump on my breast for at least 20 minutes per breast and while massaging my breast in a forward pushing motion gently gliding from the armpit to the tip of the nipple as much as you can from the outside without knocking the flange off. Then on the other hand from the middle of your chest to the nipple. With both hands massaging is when you’ll get maximum extraction. The start of pumping is painful because it’s what we call “dry pumping” where nothing much comes out. I think I may have gotten 10-20ml throughout the entire session. I do this every 2-3 hours until my breast is DRY (meaning nothing comes out when pumping). I take the flange off and hand express (to get the remaining milk out of the reservoir of your breast. This part is VERY important. You MUST squeeze your breast DRY of ANY milk for each pumping session. This alerts your body that you need to product more!!!! I did this every 3 hours (even during the night) for about a whole week until I reached about 950-1000ml a day. This is the build up phase. It may take you longer but it’s important that you reach this point.
- Stabilization Phase: This is the phase where the work comes in like calculating a formula. After you’ve reached 950-1000ml a day in pumping. Maintain this for 5 days so that your volume is stable. Now comes the fun part. Instead of pumping every 2-3 hours, now start to pump every 4 hours. Volume per day should NOT drop. Now do this for another 3 days and make sure your volume doesn’t drop. If it drops, add another pump in during the day and make your your volume is stable. Once it is stable, now pump every 6 hours. At this point, your volume may drop 25-40ml a day. That’s NORMAL. This is why we started high at 950-1000ml a day so we can afford to lose some volume after each stabilization period. After your 6 hour period are stabilized for 3 days (make sure it’s stable), now stretch it to 8 hour pumps, and then 10 hour pumps, and then 12 hour pumps. Stop at pumping every 12 hours. So when you stretched it to 8 hour pumps, you’ll lose another 25ml a day and at 10 hour pump, you may lose 50 ml a day and then when you get to 12 hour pumps, you’ll lose another 50.
- Final Phase: When you’re pumping only twice a day (every 12 hours) you may get an output between 750-850ml a day (yes, that’s 335-425ml per pump – mooooooo ). It is possible. I did it and plenty of other women I taught did it. It works as long as you follow the rules. Stabilize the volume, make sure every drop from your breast is out after each pump, and you’ll be able to sustain these results.
Hope you guys all have success! I ended up pumping at 7am while my husband was still home in the morning and he can run to the baby if baby cries and then 7pm after he got home. It worked out perfect and finally I was free of distractions during the day. Not that I enjoyed pumping twice a day because each time is once too much for me but it made it more bearable…