The struggles of a breastfeeding mom are too many to mention! The most crucial is finding the time and opportunity to pump or nurse your baby.
After the 3 month period, when maternity leave ends, life becomes a lot busier. You may not want your baby to depend on formula too much, so you’ll focus on pumping and expressing your breast milk to have a full supply for your infant.
Maintaining a flexible routine to pump as much as possible is the best way to increase supply and ensure you have enough milk to give your child all the nutrition that he or she needs.
Here are some tips you can follow that will help you keep the milk flowing while still giving you the flexibility of your busy life.
1. Don’t Miss Any Nursing Opportunities
There’s nothing wrong pumping exclusively, but nursing is good for your baby’s mental and physical development if you’re physically capable of doing so. There are many benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby.
If you get one opportunity to nurse, don’t miss that. If it’s early in the morning before you head to work or right before bedtime, the natural suckling of your baby on your breast (as opposed to an electric pump) will help to stimulate breast milk production more.
2. Invest in a High-Quality Breast Pump
Unfortunately, not all pumps are created equal and some are much better than others. If you have a better pump, you will extract more milk in less time making pumping a simple task for you and your family. If you’re using a pump that is poor quality, it may take a long time to extract a little bit of milk causing ou to be discouraged, angry, and stressed.
I’ve tried many different pumps and those are the feelings that I felt. When I was producing and pumping a lot of milk, I felt confident and encouraged, but as soon as it started getting tougher and sessions got longer to get less milk, I quickly wanted to give up.
The Spectra S1 is one of the best pumps you can use to efficiently pump plenty of breastmilk and it’s also portable and hands free which is a HUGE plus.
Health insurances now cover 100% of breast pumps for moms who choose this route, but it depends on your insurance what they offer. Check out Aeroflow Healthcare to find out what pump your insurance will cover and get it sent to you immediately!
3. Be Prepared to Pump Anywhere
Pumping will start to take over your life in that everywhere you go or everything you’ll do, you’ll have to think about when is the next time I need to pump? So it’s important to be aware of timing and always be prepared with the equipment you need wherever you go. For example,
- Pack up everything in advance
If you can plan in advance when and where you will pump, that will fit perfectly into a schedule. However, there can be times when you may get a free moment or you feel your breasts becoming engorged and you need to pump immediately. That’s why it’s best to always be prepared.
Have an insulated pump bag that has the pump set up, disposable nursing pads, (hands-free) nursing bra, bottles, milk storage bags and some cleaning/sanitizing supplies all packed up. If you’ll be pumping on-the-go a lot, it’s super helpful to have a second pump and extra parts on hand and to keep everything in one place.
- Pumping at work
Finding the time and a place at work can be a big problem. In these times, it is mandatory that your workplace offers you a private space to pump, however, this space can vary from place to place. Be sure to consult with your boss or HR department about the time allowed away from work and where you can go for privacy.
Also, keeping a separate pump at work with faster suction with double pumping capability is great to not have to worry about transporting it and/or forgetting parts, pieces, or necessary accessories.
- Pumping in the car
If you’re a working mom and spend 1-2 hours in a car or on public transportation to go to and from work, this is probably a great time to pump.
If you are not the one driving, you could use that time to pump and store it in an insulated bag. Use a nursing cover to keep your privacy or invest in a pump that fits right in your bra so no one else can tell you’re pumping.
If you drive yourself to work, you can set the pump up before you begin driving (as long as it’s hands-free) and let it do it’s work as you commute. Don’t remove the pump or bottles until you are completely stopped and your vehicle is turned off as this can be a distraction while driving.
- Pumping at home
Have a designated area that you pump at home so you can have space, privacy, and most importantly, a convenient place to keep your pump and all the parts. This way you won’t have to go searching for all of it when you’re ready.
Whenever you have downtime, whether it’s watching TV or reading, try to pump a little. If it’s between nursing sessions, this is a great way to increase your supply.
- Pumping on travel
You might need a break and want to go on a small trip or your work requires you to travel frequently. Get a portable pump with batteries that can last 3-4 sessions at least. The best places to pump on travel are airport, hotels and even event venues. Oftentimes, these places have a private space for moms. Use that efficiently.
4. Go Hands-Free
Who said pumping makes you stuck in one place! You might not have tried a wearable hands-free breast pump yet, but these pumps are extremely light and small. They will fit snugly in your nursing or pumping bra and make pumping so much more realistic on those busy days.
Whether you are working at home or office, there’s no need to hold the device. The pump will work on it’s own and you can walk and do your tasks with freedom. The ability to walk around without any outlet helps a great deal.
There are bras that allow you to be more hands free, but the pump will still protrude from you bra or shirt. Other pumps can be stuck in your bra for complete privacy and invisibility.
5. Store the milk appropriately
If you build up a breast milk freezer stash, it can last a couple of months and still remain fresh for your baby to feed. Therefore, storing your milk can give you plenty of flexibility. Whenever you find holidays and weekends, pump as much as possible. Let your baby nurse the whole day and store the pumped milk for when you need it in the future.
When you pump at work or outside keep the milk inside ice packs and insulated freezer bags. It should remain in good condition for 24 hours under these conditions. Alternatively, you can use the freezer at your workplace, but if it goes from frozen to thawed, you’ll need to use it right away.
Store milk in storage bags, like these one from Lansinoh, which make transporting and storage much easier because they take up way less room in your bags, refrigerators, and freezers than bottles.
6. Clean on-the-go
As if pumping wasn’t hard enough, cleaning the bottles and pump parts every day- multiple times a day- is probably the worst part about it! You may not always be able to get to a sink right away or not have the proper cleaning materials when you’re out.
To stick to your flexible routine, it’s best to carry a few quick-clean wipes with you. Before you eventually find a sink or access to water, this will keep the parts free from bacteria.
Another big tip for cleaning is that you don’t have to do it every single time you pump! Once you’re done pumping – simply place your flanges and empty bottles in a large zip-lock bag and put it in the fridge. It’s then ready to go when you need to pump again the same day! The milk stays refrigerated so it’s not going to go bad and contaminate future milk that you pump. Then you only have to wash your flanges once every 24 hours!
7. Keep milk-boosting foods on hand
Certain times of day may result in lower milk supply. The good news is that there are foods and drinks that can actually enhance breastmilk production. Drinking plenty of water is a large factor in increasing breastmilk supply, as well as supplements and foods.
You can try Fenugreek, a natural, herbal breastmilk boosting supplement, or Lactation Cookies to give our breastmilk production a boost.
8. Don’t stress if you aren’t pumping enough milk
Stress can abruptly affect your breast milk production. Whether it’s something in your personal life or the fear of pumping less milk, both can have negative effects. If you are not pumping enough for your baby, just leave that thought out of mind. Doing so will only hurt you more.
Instead, think positively. You are doing your best to pump and nurse whenever you can. You are a great mother and you are doing everything for your baby and your family. That’s something to be proud of!
Pump as much as you can, but when there comes a time when the stress of breastfeeding overtakes you, take a break or stop altogether. A new mother’s mental health is far more important than the little breastmilk she is feeding her baby.
Whatever you can pump and save in the first few months after delivery can be used when times get tough.
9. It’s fine to give formula
Your baby will probably need 25-30 oz of milk everyday. Even if you can’t provide 100% of that from breastmilk, you can aim for at least 40-60% of it. The rest you can substitute with formula.
If formula is the only way that you can supplement your baby’s nutritional intake, don’t stress out about it! You can mix formula with breast milk or just give smaller bottles of formula than you do of breast milk so that your baby will still be getting most of their nutrition from breastmilk.
If you have stored breast milk, try and maintain the proportion. Have one 4 oz bottle for breast milk and two 2 oz bottles for formula.
Related Post: Common Questions and Concerns About Formula Feeding
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Try not to stress out with the worries and anxiety that breast pumping can bring. You’re providing the best nutrition for your baby that you possibly can with whatever you’re giving them.
If you’re having trouble, remember that you’re not alone. Most women give their all to breastfeed their baby and you’ll experience the joys and challenges together.
If you manage to follow these tips, I’m sure you can meet at least 50% of your baby’s daily milk demands. Check out some more Genius Breastfeeding Hacks and Tips here. Good luck!