I will go back to 2014 when I had two babies, one 6lbs 11oz and one 5lbs 5 oz. One with a good latch, one with a not-so-great latch. And then 6 weeks later, one baby who developed a milk allergy and one who did not. With the complications and honestly just the stress of having two babies, I decided to exclusively pump and bottle-feed my breastmilk. I will be honest. I did not enjoy nursing both babies simultaneously. Therefore, I started nursing them one at a time and then I had to pump after, and then I had to wash and dry everything (before I knew of the refrigerator trick, detailed below**). My feedings lasted about 2 hours and then I had to start again 30 minutes later - so I decided to skip the nursing part, and strictly pump. That way, Jim or other people could help with feedings. My thoughts were that Conor and Caden were receiving the health benefits of breast milk, I was burning calories, and it was free. To me, it was a win win win. Right?
Fast forward to 2016 and I have one baby. Sure, it sounds easier to breastfeed that one baby, but I also have two toddlers now. So therefore, I have decided to stick with my same system that I had in 2014 since it worked very well for me. Yes for ME. It doesn't work for everyone, and I am not pushing it on anyone. I feel like friends and family and doctors may judge a little bit, but it works for me and I like it.
SO here's what I did at 4 weeks or less:
When he was first born, I nursed him 50% of the time and pumped every 2-3 hours regardless of nursing. For example, every 2-3 hours, I would nurse, then pump afterwards and also supplemented with formula if needed. I nursed/pumped at 6AM, 9AM, Noon, 3PM, 6PM, 9PM, Midnight, and 2-3AM. It is important to stimulate and get your milk to come in asap. It is recommended that you nurse or pump 8 times within a 24 hour period.
Here's what I do now:
As Cal got a bit older, maybe around 4 weeks, I slowly stopped nursing and started exclusively pumping, mostly at the times listed above. Since then, I slowly dropped a pumping session or two. My schedule is more like this - 6:30AM, 10AM, 1PM, 5PM, 8:30PM, 2:30AM, repeat. My supply is pretty much established. I pump anywhere from 4-5 oz during the day. At 2:30-3AM, I pump above 7 oz. This "extra" milk is what I put in the refrigerator or freeze. Everything else that I pump, Cal consumes entirely. Sometimes when he wants more, especially around dinner time to bulk up for the night, I give him a 2oz "cluster feed" of refrigerated breastmilk or formula in the evening.
No one really instructs you on how to exclusively pump, so you need to do a lot of your own research. One of my favorite sites has been this one.
Here are my "pros" for exclusively pumping:
- I like that he is consuming most (if not all) breastmilk.
- I like to visually see the amount of breastmilk he is consuming at each feeding.
- I like that he is easier to burp.
- I like that anyone can feed him.
- I like that Jim can occasionally do a night feeding, on weekends, if needed.
- I like that I am still burning calories, even though I am not technically BFing.
- I like that I can easily "pump and dump" when I drink alcohol.
- I like that the pump is portable and I can do it almost anywhere - similar to BFing.
- I like that breastmilk can stay at room temperature for hours, compared to formula.
- I like that he will not be affected much when I go back to work and continue pumping.
- I like that I can pump efficiently with two toddlers running around.
- . It is important that you are plenty hydrated.
- While you are pumping, you need the extra calories because you are burning so much off. And try and eat things high in protein, low in sodium.
- . You can also make cookies that have oatmeal in them and get oatmeal that way. *Shaz comment - you can find some good BFing cookies with real oatmeal in it here on my blog.
- If you are exhausted and have the opportunity to take a nap (even if it pushes your pump session a little bit) then do it! You will actually get more milk that way.
- . This all depends on how you personally handle stress, but MAJOR stressful situations may hurt your supply.
- Some say it’s the barley in it or something, that helps to increase supply. Plus some women just swear by the relaxation it gives them! You have 1 or 2 beers without much crossing into your milk.
- and it is supposed to increase your supply if you drink it.
- and also prescription medications that will increase your supply if you really need it. I would use these as a last resort but they can be effective and are available.
- Hands free. If you are pumping at all, then I recommend a hands free pumping bra. Medela makes one and I use it often, but I prefer the simple wishes hands free bra that I bought online. I believe there is a coupon code, so if you are interested, let me know and I can dig it up.
- Refrigerator trick. You do not need to constantly clean your pump parts after each feeding if you store them in your refrigerator. Total time saver and life changer.
- Storage bags. If you are lucky like me, your insurance will cover your breastmilk bags. I keep these in my fridge so I don't lose out on my bottles - and again, it's less stuff to clean.