When my daughter was born, I decided to be an exclusive pumper. I wanted my daughter to have the many benefits of breast milk, but I wanted her father and grandmother to be able to also bond with her during feeding sessions. Many people had negative comments regarding my decision and told me that I would never reach my goal of pumping for a year. Well 16 months later, I have not only reached by goal but have well surpassed it and I am continuing to go strong. For those mothers who chose to be exclusive pumpers, there are several areas that I feel were key to success.
Support. Whether you are feeding from the breast or pumping, the first 6 to 8 weeks are the most difficult. You are trying to get to know what your baby needs and when, how much food they want, dealing with engorged breasts, and numerous other stressors that occur in the first few weeks. Have a support system around you to help motivate you and give you encouragement as you try to produce nourishing food for your baby.
Schedule. I currently pump 3 to 4 hours a day; however, in the first few months you need to pump every three hours to get your supply regulated. I found that starting to pump right away allowed me to create a large supply of over 60 ounces a day. We all produce at different rates, but the more often you empty the breast your body will be triggered to produce more milk for your baby. Every three hours can be hard at first, but once you get into that routine, it will get easier and you can drop down to every four or five hours as your child grows.
Freeze it. You will most likely produce more milk than your baby will drink if you pump every three hours. Purchase breast milk storage bags and freeze the milk. In a deep freezer, the milk usually lasts 6 to 12 months. Having a supply of frozen milk is great when your baby drinks more milk during a growth spurt, when you have your menstrual cycle and produce less milk, or if you are on antibiotics and cannot nurse for a few days. Do not throw out milk because you never know when you may need it. By the time my daughter was 12 months, I had over 1000 ounces in the deep freezer. This allowed me to pump less and incorporate that frozen supply into my daughter’s feedings so she had enough to drink.
Pumping may seem hard at first but it will get easier. My daughter has become so comfortable with the process that each time I pump she comes over and turns it on for me when I am ready to start. When I first began pumping, I had my doubts but I stuck with it and it was worth it.