by Marie H.
• Get a good breast pump -- the absolute best you can afford.
If someone tells you that a particular pump is "overkill" and you can afford that pump -- ignore them! If you are a bad pumper, you'll need that "overkill" and if you are a good pumper, you'll still appreciate the time it saves you and the extra comfort.
• Be assertive about getting a good place to pump at work.
If you can't relax in your pumping spot, you are going to have letdown problems. Privacy and cleanliness are the keys.
• If you don't get a lot each time, try pumping for less time more frequently instead of more time less frequently.
It might seem logical to wait a longer time so you can "save up" more milk, but that's counterproductive because empty breasts make milk faster than full ones. That means the more you empty them the more they make!
• You need your caregiver to work with you, not against you.
Have a caregiver who is supportive of breastfeeding or at least able to handle EMM without cringing, spilling it on a regular basis or otherwise sabotaging you.
• Never pump or give a bottle if you can breastfeed instead.
Nothing stimulates your supply like a baby nursing. Pretend breast pumps and bottles don't exist when you're around your baby.
• Sleeping with your baby gets you more rest.
Co-sleeping is less disturbing to sleep than having to go to your baby in another room and it encourages you to nurse at night which has many benefits. Nursing at night is better for overall supply and a baby who eats some at night is more able to wait for you to get home to nurse -- which means you'll have to pump less!
It takes anywhere from 1-3 weeks to get used to sleeping with another person. But I figure if I can sleep with my husband (he snores!) I can sleep with anyone. It may not turn out the same for you, but I really encourage people to give it a real try and not just assume it won't work.
• Avoid Playtex Nurser's standard nipple -- especially the short stubby version!
This particular nipple is notorious for causing nipple confusion. In general, the best bottles are ones with a wide base, a long nipple that sits far back in the mouth and that is soft and flexible. On the other hand, the best nipple to use is the one your baby will take so if your baby won't take the "good" kind even with lots of help and support from you, then remember that rules are made to be broken.
• Don't freeze the milk unless you have to.
Fresh milk is better than frozen milk because it hasn't lost any anti-bodies or nutrition and it's age-appropriate in composition. Now that we know you can normally keep the milk in the fridge for 8 days (in the back of the fridge, not in the door), the only time you have to freeze it is if it's extra or you're building up a freezer stash.
When you do freeze milk, don't put it near the floors or walls of a frost-free freezer or in the door -- it doesn't keep as well in those places -- and try to use it within 2-3 months so it remains a close match to what your baby normally gets at that age.
• Buy extra pump parts!
You can significantly cut down on the time it takes to pump at work if you don't have to wash bottles, horns, valves, etc. in between each pump. Keep the dirties in a plastic bag and let your husband wash them when you get home (after all, you're doing all the pumping -- washing the parts can be his contribution to feeding your baby).
It's easy to get so caught up in where tomorrow's milk is coming from and why one breast produces more than another and all the other things that pumping moms obsess over, that we lose sight of why we are doing this -- for our babies! So be sure to take a moment and stop and "smell the baby!"
Marie is not a lactation professional or a La Leche League leader. She's just a breastfeeding mother who has been down the in trenches and knows what kinds of questions come up again and again. This article shares the top ten things she learned from pumping for two babies.
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