If you have decided to breastfeed, you’d be wise to cash in on a breast pump. Even if you’re staying at home with your babe, it can definitely come in handy! Worst case scenario — you never touch the thing and dump it with the truckload of baby crap that you’ll be getting rid of during a purge anyway.
This guide is meant as a kindergarten-style breakdown of how to get pumping.
I know how intimidating pumping can be, especially without anyone to lead the way. The when, where, what, hows are extensive… and broken down elsewhere, but this is the right jumping off point. Have at it!
Order your pump in advance
All (or at least most) insurance plans have to provide a pump, whether you’re working or not. I knew I wanted a Medela pump and attempted to order one on my own. I was stopped by a request for a prescription!
Ask your medical professional for a prescription at one of your several appointments. I ordered mine around week 28. I wanted to make sure I had read all of the instructions before Baby came home, and you never really know when that might be!
Without a prescription, you can pay for one out of pocket, or 9 They are sold almost everywhere. Most notably Amazon, Target, or Walmart. I would not buy one second-hand, as that is THE major no-no with pumps (and their warranties).
The instructions are very thorough, and they definitely suggest extraordinary methods for how to do EVERYTHING pump related. It can be overwhelming, which did not help me get started.
The first pumping session should NOT take place while you are pregnant. Apparently, it can induce labor (the lactation consultant that taught the breastfeeding class I attended said so). Not to worry anyone! Definitely something to keep in mind if you are overdue. Haha!
I always heard people wished they had started pumping asap. I did not know when “possible” was, as a new baby made everything seem more difficult. That is a trend with baby-having. Do everything right now! But don’t because you can’t….? Oh whatever.
I definitely didn’t want to empty my breasts when they were full, because then what would the baby eat? It truly drove me nuts. And that is the sort of stuff that inspired this post.
Anyway, I needed at least a day and a half’s supply stored up for my first day of work. That was my goal.
I first pumped for storage at home, around 2 weeks postpartum. I managed to get all of a half ounce of colostrum. Cool.
This is GOOD! It is definitely discouraging when you see mamas out there pumping 8 ounces in one sitting. You can get there!! Slowly.
I saved colostrum one half ounce at a time until I had about 4 ounces. I froze that to save for baby’s first illness.
As maternity leave winds down, the pressure to pump can come on strong.
I was open to supplementing with formula, if need be. My friend preferred donated milk (if necessary). My point being, there are options! Don’t stress yourself out too much, because that definitely won’t help.
After about the 6 week mark, baby will have gone through a growth spurt or two. Their demand will have more than doubled, which allows for more than an ounce per pump. I suggest pumping at least once a week or so in order to determine exactly how much you can expect per boob, per sesh. If it isn’t increasing, keep that baby on that booby! Or both. Preferably both…
Getting started is not a one day event. I am curious about the result of pumping beginning later on, when your supply is well established. Please chime in with any later pumping scenarios! (4+ months)
Practice makes perfect
Keep in mind, this milk your saving will be worthless if your baby won’t drink it. What I mean is, you need to start giving your baby a bottle as soon as possible (here I go again…).
This is a major point of pumping, and I have a draft in the works on what to do when your baby won’t take a bottle. Subscribe to get the update!
The reality is that a baby that takes to the boob probably prefers the boob. This is awesome, until you have to go back to work. You definitely don’t want your baby to starve their self, and professional caregivers will need your baby to be bottle-fed. This is a whole other issue entirely…
Basically, get to practicing! Pump as much as you can so you can save and practice with as much as you can. We’ve all heard that newborns are tiring. Take it a step further and pump in your itty-bitty free time! You’re tired anyway! I’m kidding, but totally serious. Pumping is a huge commitment, but it has its bright sides.