Exclusively pumping, pumping and nursing combination, formula feeding, or exclusively breastfeeding. There are several ways to feed your baby, and it depends on the mom (and baby) to decide what is best for them. In the end fed is best as they say.
Those moms who decide to exclusively pump or pump and nurse are their own kind of super heroes. They are spending their days attached to a machine in addition to feeding their baby either by bottle or breast, or both. Their nipples become raw and pained because of the force of the pump, but they keep going to provide the best nourishment for their babies.
But sometimes pumping breastmilk can be difficult. Your supply can decrease for a number of reasons, and properly storing, keeping, and using breastmilk can be confusing. Here are 6 tips for moms who are having trouble pumping:
Start Pumping Right Away
Your milk will start coming in a few days after your baby is born, and if you have decided to exclusively pump you will want to get started on pumping right away. Seeing those first few drops come into the bottles on your pump is somewhat exhilarating. Your body needs time to adjust to pumping, and it may take up to two weeks for you to really start getting a decent amount of milk during a pumping session. But starting right after baby is born will get your body acclimated to the pump even faster, giving you the results you desire.
Let Your Baby Nurse Even if You Just Pumped
You may feel like there is nothing left after a pumping session, but if you are both nursing and pumping, don’t be afraid to let your baby nurse even though you just pumped. If anything, this will help boost your supply and get even more ounces out the next time you sit down with Carol (or whatever you name your pump).
Take Care of Yourself
The number one rule after having a baby is to make sure you take care of yourself. When you are exclusively pumping or doing a nursing-pumping combo, this is especially important because your intake of food, water, and the amount of rest you are getting can directly affect your supply. There are several ways to take care of yourself and make sure you are getting the nutrients needed to create a better supply such as:
- Drink plenty of water- The general rule for pumping is to drink one glass of water each time you pump.
- Eat well– Some foods that can naturally help boost your supply include:
- Get plenty of rest- Easier said than done, mama. We know. But remember that this madness is just a season and right now the most important thing is you and your baby.
- Work Out– We just told you to rest and now we are telling you to work out? Believe it or not, both are equally important. Find a gym with daycare or find a workout you can do at home (Pinterest is your best friend for this). Even taking a walk around your neighborhood (or to the nearest Starbucks) is a great way to rack up those steps.
Properly Store Breastmilk to Be Used for as Long as Possible
The Centers for Disease Control gives great guidelines on how to store breastmilk. Breastmilk can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days while frozen breastmilk can be used for up to a year. If you have already thawed the breastmilk to be used it can stay in the fridge for a day but never refreeze it as bacteria has already started to grow the moment it begins to thaw.
Pumping moms, especially those who are having trouble expressing breastmilk, should pump as often as possible (again, easier said than done), and store their breastmilk properly so that it can be used when needed. Be sure to store milk in small amounts (usually 4 ounces or less) so that you don’t end up thawing more than necessary- you can always thaw more but if you thaw too much chances are you will end up throwing some out. And no moms want to watch perfectly good breastmilk go down the drain.
Re-Use Your Baby’s Bottle
The CDC’s guidelines for re-using a baby’s bottle (i.e. a bottle they did not finish) is 2 hours after the baby has finished a feeding. However, sometimes your baby is just not ready to finish that bottle within two hours and then you will be pouring your hard-earned liquid gold down the drain (probably with a few tears along with it).
The reason for these guidelines is because bacteria starts to grow in your baby’s bottle as soon as they begin drinking it. Backwash from your child’s mouth can get into the bottle through the nipple, and that bacteria from their mouth can double in just twenty minutes. After two hours, there is so much bacteria in the bottle that it is simply not safe for your child to consume.
For moms who have trouble pumping or just for those moms that want peace of mind that their baby won’t get sick from the increased bacteria in their bottle, there is aLoo. aLoo is a patented valve that is easily inserted into your baby’s bottle between the bottle and the nipple. This simple valve prevents backwash from entering the bottle, thereby decreasing the amount of bacteria significantly.
aLoo helps moms know that their babies are safe to continue consuming a bottle even if it has been sitting out for a couple of hours. The valve allows milk to easily flow into the nipple but does not let it back into the bottle, decreasing the chance for bacteria to get in. It is BPA-free, dishwasher safe, and can fit a variety of bottles such as:
- Dr. Brown’s Original and Natural Flow, Standard Neck Bottles
- Philips Avent
- Tommy Tippee
- Playtex Baby
- Boob by Joovy
aLoo gives moms peace of mind that re-using their baby’s bottle won’t make their child sick. With aLoo they don’t have to pour that precious liquid gold they worked so hard to pump down the drain as soon as their child is done eating.
Decrease Your Anxiety
It is easier said than done, but if your supply suddenly tanks or you feel like you’re just not producing enough try not to over-analyze. Google is both your best friend and your worst enemy. You can get some great tips from moms who have been there but you can also drive yourself crazy trying to figure out if you should buy supplements, drink this, or eat that. Take a deep breath and remember that pumping is hard. You’re probably exhausted and no one loves being attached to a machine. Give yourself a break and remember that feeding your baby is most important no matter whether it is breastmilk or formula.
Pumping is hard work. It is another step in the process of taking care of your sweet new baby, and it can be exhausting. Having a difficult time pumping breastmilk is even more daunting. You find yourself worrying about how to increase your supply, how to get yourself to express more, and if you’re going to have enough to feed your baby. You wake up at all hours, even when your baby is sleeping, just to pump a little extra. In the end, feeding your baby however you can is the most important. So pump away, mama. You got this.
WANT TO READ MORE?
For the latest Breast Pump Cleaning Guidelines, click here.