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There is no debating the immensely beneficial properties of breastmilk for a newborn. Not only is breastmilk a nutritional mecca, but it also provides immunity protection against germs and bacteria. So there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to breastfeed.
But what if you can’t nurse your baby? My daughter Lillian sustained a traumatic spinal cord injury at birth leaving her trached and vented with a g-tube to feed, so all my hopes and dreams of getting to breastfeed my first child were crushed.
Despite the awful circumstances my family was thrown in, I was not going to let this defeat me! Even though Lils could not nurse, she could still benefit from my breastmilk. With this in mind, I embarked on my breast pumping journey.
1 year later I am finally finished with pumping, and boy does it feel amazing! I know my husband is certainly excited about it. I look back over the last year at my experience with breastfeeding and wonder how I got out alive! Through all the cracked nipples and clogged milk ducts, I learned a lot about myself. Listed below are some tips I picked up on how to survive one year of breast pumping.
WATER! WATER! WATER!
Can I stress this point enough? Ok one more time for the girl in the back.. WATER! From the first week to the last, water played a significant role in my milk production. I know it’s easy to get caught up and skip drinking a glass of water in the morning, but I cannot emphasize this any more. DRINK WATER! It’s so easy to do, and works almost instantaneously.
I know with a lot of things, you can get away with cutting corners. But this is not one of those things. Investing in a quality pump will make a world of difference! I personally had a Medela In style Double Pump, which honestly may have saved my marriage. Before I had the In-style I was using a single breast manual pump that would take FOREVER to achieve let down and left my arms tired and my spirit weak. One day after a huge argument (over breast pumping) my husband went to the store and got me the Medela Double Pump and I couldn’t of been more grateful. The double pump allows for more milk production in half the time. Plus, with the hands-free availability I was free to use my hands on more important things.. like scrolling social media.
STICK TO A SCHEDULE
Babies in general require a scheduled routine, and your pumping is no different! Try to schedule your pumping around times that the baby is also feeding, that way you can mimic your babies needs and your breasts can produce accordingly. During the first 3 months I was pumping every 2-3 hours on the clock, including middle of the night pumps. After 3 months I was able to cut out the night time pump but was still pumping frequently, at least 6-8 times a day. When you cut back on a pump you lose a little bit of your supply, so it is important to not cut back too soon.
DONT HESITATE TO SUPPLEMENT
If your supply starts to dwindle after you cut the night time pump out, don’t stress yourself out about it. Simply supplement what you’re not producing with formula. This doesn’t make you a bad mother, in fact it make you a really good one! You’re setting your ego or pride aside and making sure that you child’s nutritional needs are being met. After all, FED is best. It is SO important that your baby thrives in the first year, and a well balanced diet is necessary to make that happen. You also have to prioritize what is most important. Yes breastmilk is the most beneficial form of nutrition for a baby, but your sanity is also extremely important. If skipping a pump in the middle of the night means you get 1 extra hour of sleep, that is worth it’s weight in gold!
KEEP YOUT BREASTS HEALTHY
I know it’s easy to over look ourselves when taking care of a newborn, but make sure to really pay attention to you body’s own cues. Relaxing baths with epsom salt and essential oils can make a world of difference on not only your energy, but also your supply! Make sure you take daily multivitamins, as well as supplements like Fenugreek and Brewers Yeast. If you really want to spice things up, you can make a batch of “lactation cookies” made of rolled oats, Brewer’s Yeast and flaxseed, all known to help boost milk supply! Holistic remedies help not only your supply, but also the health of your breast as well. Cracked nipples and clogged ducts are a common unpleasantry of breast pumping. One time I woke up with a 102 fever and a swollen right breast! The nurse’s at the hospital were wanting me to get on an antibiotics, but I knew there had to be a more natural approach before diving right into medications. Low and behold on Pinterest I found a remedy for clogged milk ducts.. potatoes! You should of seen the doctor’s faces when I told them I had potatoes tapped to my boob. But you know what? It worked! My fever went away and the swelling went down. In a matter of 2 days I was back to normal. And it’s only weird if it doesn’t work, right?
One of the things that I found most difficult to overcome was pumping in front of other people. Even with a cover over me, the sounds of the pump always made me feel insecure. Most of the time I would hide in my room, or if I was out I would pump in the bathroom (SO GROSS). It wasn’t until one day when I was in the NICU pumping bedside when a doctor approached. I pardoned myself for pumping, which the doctor responded with “For pumping? Who cares! You’re feeding your baby.” At that moment I realized she was right. I’m literally producing my newborn baby’s milk. Pumping is already stressful enough, I didn’t need the added anxiety of perceived judgement. From then on out I pumped on the go! In restaurants, at the park, even in Napa on a wine tour! You’d be surprised how inconspicuous you can be when pumping under the radar.