Monday, November 21, 2016

My Exclusively Pumping Journey

Disclaimer: This is about my personal pumping journey. It involves some info for me, as well as affiliate links of which I get no benefit from aside from being a way for me to remember later. If this helps someone on their journey, great! If not, this is for me :)

When I was pregnant with Jillian, several trusted sources told me I may have a difficult time breastfeeding because of my breast reduction surgery. With that in mind, I had a very low expectation in terms of my milk supply. I started with a single electric breast pump, then eventually purchased an electric double pump. I pumped what I could as often as I could. My supply lasted a little over 3 weeks, and I was very much satisfied with that outcome!

Once I was pregnant a second time, I decided to see if I could do a little bit better. I enrolled in a breastfeeding class, and tried to prepare myself for exclusively nursing. I figured that having some sort of supply before meant I could potentially nurse! Well, that didn't work out. David had a poor latch, and he hardly made any wet diapers in the hospital. When I would pump, Jillian had to be distracted somehow because the noise scared her every time. Once I realized it was better for David and myself to pump and supplement with formula, that's what I did. I lasted almost 4 weeks, and was satisfied in the end. It would have been nice to nurse, but that just wasn't in the cards for us.

When we knew for sure I had a healthy, and viable pregnancy in December, Phil and I discussed what I would do. After David had issues getting enough wet diapers, I told Phil I wanted to exclusively pump until my supply ran out. We looked into the free breast pump through our insurance, and saw that I could get an upgrade in pumps from what I had before. I prepared for having a good month's worth of supply before things dwindled naturally. At the hospital, I was given a handout from a lactation consultant that gave me clear guidelines for how often to pump when exclusively pumping. With the information I was given both by the lactation consultant, and from some trusted resources, I established a really good supply. Good enough to be getting nearly 32 ounces of milk a day. That was awesome! However, I was extremely tied down. It was hard planning our schedule around pumping, and Jillian & David were getting into mischief every time I pumped. I tried a few times to nurse Lottie, but she is a lazy feeder just like her sister. After discussing it ad nauseam with Phil, and my doctor, and my mom, I decided it was time to start weaning off.

My pumping journey ended after 9 weeks and 3 days. It ended by choice, and not because my body stopped producing.

As hard, (and tiring!), as it was, I am so glad of what I accomplished and what I learned. Here are some of the main things I want to remember about the journey.

I don't lose weight while nursing
Some women do, but I do not. I even tried counting calories to see if that was the culprit. Nope. I just don't lose weight, and that's ok! I was also SO hungry every time I finished a session.

It can physically hurt to pump sometimes
I would have a pain on my right side. I'm not sure if it was muscles or what, but it was not comfortable sometimes.

The pump can make a difference
I had this pump before {Lansinoh Affinity Double Electric Pump}, and then got this pump through insurance {Medela Pump In Style Advance Starter Set}. Both have their pros and cons, but I knew I would need as close to a hospital grade pump as I could. You have to figure out the right settings for you, and know that it can change over time. Once you figure out what your body needs, it's much easier to figure out.

They make sizes for pump parts, and it is important to get the right fit
Medela makes different sizes for a specific pump part. I had NO idea about this! It really did make a difference for me to have the right size. It took some trial and error, but I finally figured out what worked for me. You may even need a difference size for each side. Whatever needs to be done!

You can have all kinds of issues, and even a mix of a few
If you read some of the issues women run into while nursing or pumping, it's no wonder so many women give up. I actually had a weird mix of a couple different problems. I was able to work through them, but I was not expecting any of it!

Lactation cookies can be yummy and helpful, but do have a downside
I had a really good recipe that I liked here. However, because of the brewer's yeast, there were some interesting diapers coming from David. In fact, he almost got a full on yeast diaper rash because we let him eat a few. They can help, they are definitely yummy, but it may cause horrible farts. You have been warned.

Dark beer didn't help, but it tasted good
I was willing to try anything, so a little dark beer sounded easy to do. However, it did not help my supply at all. Also, I had to pump and dump after I was done. Not worth it to me.

Sometimes celebrities know what they're talking about
I found out about about some bars from Tamera Mowry-Housley. While I'm not a big coconut fan, these bars did make a noticeable difference in my supply! I ordered one box of the chocolate, and it was good. They were not the most delicious things I've ever eaten, and they had a spicy kick I was not expecting. However, I went from making most of what Lottie needed, to pumping exactly 32-34 oz a day. You eat the box, and can stop if you want. If you want to keep going, that's fine too. However, this did make a difference for me personally.

I had a routine of tea and oatmeal, even though it was the "wrong kind" of oatmeal
I drank Mother's Milk tea, and ate instant oatmeal every morning, and every night. The type of oatmeal that is helpful for lactating is the rolled or old-fashioned kind, and NOT instant. However, I like instant better. Who knows if it really made much of a difference. I liked the tea, even without any additives!

Netflix saved my life/sanity
I got through several TV series because I was tied down for so long. It also helped keep me awake when I was pumping at 2 am.

I was hungry all the time
I tried to start carb-cycling again, but I was just starving at the end of a pumping session. Even if I ate before, I would need something!

Mastitis is scary, but not a guarantee
I was so worried about having mastitis at some point that I tried to be extra careful about not being too long between sessions and completely emptying myself. Even if you're careful, you can still get it. However, you may not get it at all like myself. Just do the best you can :)

My favorite products
Wipes - good for those 2 am pumping session when you don't want to full on clean them
Breast Pads - these were good when I had lots of milk, and these were good for when I was drying up
Milk Bags - I used both this brand and the Target version. No preference, but I do use extras for snack bags!
App - I have used this timer for all my babies now. It's $5 (worth every penny!), and it works well for what I want in an app
Cream - When I needed lots of moisture, I used this. Otherwise, this was good enough for me
Website - This site and this site were my main online resources for everything from storage and defrosting to pain management. I was lucky to have lactation consultants I could call through my hospital as well. That was REALLY helpful!
Hot Pad - I had to use this almost every time I pumped to help with my letdown. It was very helpful and nice to have the times I was becoming engorged. Also, because it had little rings on the ends, I could attach it to my body using a towel, scarf, or my nursing bra so that it could stay on hands free

I recently fed Lottie the final bottle from my stash. We made it 102 days where she received at least one full bottle of my milk every day. Even though I wish I could have given her more, I am thankful and proud of this journey.


  1. You did/are doing amazing mama! Fed is best! Just wanted to say though that you don't have to pump and dump at ALL after having beer or alcohol- it's a common myth :). If you're ok to drive you're ok to nurse/pump! Love you ❤️

    1. Thanks love! That is so good to know!! Thank you for the clarification. Hopefully I can pass that along, even if I don't get to personally use the information or not ;) Love you too! <3


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