Usually each pumping session I get about 3-4oz. This seemed very little compared to other moms who can get 10-12oz per pumping session. But to me it was sufficient seeing that my baby only drinks as much as I pump, he won’t eat more than 4 oz. I use the popular Avent Isis manual pump which is efficient enough. It takes me about 15-20mins to pump + pack. In between pumping sessions I just pack all pumps parts in a sealed bag and throw it in the fridge. Breast milk has antibacterial properties. This saves me from wasting time on washing and sterilizing each time I pump. I read this useful tip from a great website on pumping – www.workandpump.com.
I’m still at the trial and error state in getting to smoothly run my pumping routine. It’s not as easy as I imagined it would be. I found that pumping sessions can be a bit messy because I tend to leak from the other breast while pumping. Recently I bought the Medela milk collection shells which are terrific at collecting the milk and saving my clothes from getting wet. I take a little burp cloth with me to wipe away any stray drops. Nowadays it feels like pumping is my fulltime job. Lately I found that it is getting increasingly difficult to maintain the same amount of pumping yield. For the past few days even if I pump until my hands and breasts are starting to hurt I still fall short of 3oz. I’m a professional pumper who sucks at her job, literally! This is really stressing me out. I’m my baby’s only source of food! I’m trying to figure out ways to increase production.
My Avent pump is comfortable to use and gentle on the breast. During my maternity leave I could get as much as 5 oz using that pump, in a short time. This makes pumping sessions enjoyable. However somehow at work it gets harder. Plus pumping as much as 3 times a day using a manual pump is a strain on my hand – especially the wrist. Especially with the low output, it’s really disheartening to continue pumping. I’m thinking about getting an electric/battery operated pump. I’m hoping it’ll help empty my breast better and thus increase production plus my hands could use a break. I’ve done some reading on electric pumps and I’m leaning towards Medela Swing. It seems to be getting good feedback. I considered getting the Medela Pump-In-Style but it’s too bulky. Even with the simple Avent I find that I’m carrying a lot more stuff with me in the morning. I’d like a pump that is compact, use batteries, silent and very efficient. A double pump would be helpful too. But obviously a double pump would not be so compact. Does anybody have a better pump to suggest? Pls do. I’ve ruled out Spectra – no batteries so can’t use because I’ve no electricity in the room I use for pumping. Avent Uno/Duo is another consideration but I’m attracted to Medela’s 2-phase expression because sometimes it’s difficult to get letdown. Avent Uno/Duo users, what say you?
At the end of the day I wash all pumping equipments and sterilize using sterilizing tablets. In the morning everything is dry so I can pack them in the bag. I’m contemplating waking up earlier to add another pumping session in the morning to my schedule – to make up for the lack of pumping output. But that also means that my pump will have to be washed and get all wet again. Can you just pack a wet pump? How do other moms do it? Maybe if I have a second pump I can leave the wet one at home.
I have some freezer stash at home that I collected during maternity leave. However I’m careful about using them. I try to send to the babysitter whatever I can pump the day before. The reason is this; Let’s say my baby normally drinks 30oz per day – EBM + direct nursing. Breast milk is produced according to demand. So my body has adjusted itself and produces 30oz a day. Say for example I missed a few pumping sessions and my milk supply goes down a little to 28oz per day. To compensate for this I send extra 2oz from my freezer stock everyday. This would be a bad use of my freezer stash. My baby would be drinking the same amount per day i.e. 30 oz but I’m telling my body to produce only 28oz. In the end my milk supply will never increase and my freezer stash would eventually run out. You can read more about this in the website I suggested earlier.
Now I’m thinking about ways to increase my supply. Does anybody have any useful tips?
It sure is challenging being a breastfeeding, working mom. I’m starting to understand why some people may choose to switch or supplement with formula. You need to be fully committed. If I didn’t learn about breastfeeding and pumping and wasn’t so determined about it I could’ve quit as well. Imagine, your breasts are essentially never fully yours again. Every couple of hours you need to feed the baby. While this is actually time for you to bond and is very enjoyable, it’s also very time consuming and is not what you’re used to (before you have a baby). Even when you’re away from the baby you must continue “feeding” – by pumping to maintain your supply. During the weekends when I go out I must also think of ways to maintain supply. If the baby is with me I need to find ways to feed him in public or if I choose to bottle feed him EBM I still need to pump - again to maintain supply. Normally I just breastfeed him because it’s much more convenient. If I use EBM, it’s not as simple as bringing a bottle. You’ve also got to pack ice packs in a cooler for the EBM, hot water in a thermos etc. And then there’s washing + sterilize blablabla. My breasts are uncomfortably bigger, and constantly change in size. My bras keep changing size so much during pregnancy and nursing that now none of the bras actually fit me well.
It does get easier with time and practice though. I hope soon enough I’ll figure out the best ways to keep everything running smoothly. The important thing for me to remember is that it CAN be done. If so many other moms can do it, why can’t I.
Adam, I promise I’ll do my very best to keep giving you breast milk until you are 2. It is not easy but for you I’ll do absolutely everything. Love you sooo much! Muahs!
Adam’s Daddy – I love you too la…hehe.