I always wanted to feed my daughter breast milk so I decided to exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 weeks. But once I went back to work, I was going to have to figure out how to pump.
The truth is… pumping is awkward.
It’s hard to talk about, it’s hard to explain, and you pretty much feel like a cow.
After 4 weeks at home, I started giving Kayleigh bottles and worked on pumping. My very first pumping session immediately made me feel like a cow. There’s nothing more disturbing then watching your boobs get squished and milk coming out for the first time.
Knowing that I needed to figure out how to nurse and pump, I immediately got onto Pinterest looking for tips or tricks to make it easier. Eventually, I following Mommy’s Bundle’s post on 10 Breastfeeding Hacks a Nursing Mother Needs in her Life.
Here’s how this went:
1. Feeding on Demand
They say that you should feed whenever your baby is hungry, that way you have developed enough to feed your baby. The problem with this is that Kayleigh was a cluster feeder. This mean that Kayleigh ate ALL THE TIME!
Not literally, but pretty much every 30 minutes. I felt like she was always on the boob and I could never give her a bottle/pump without not having anything for if she got hungry 30 minutes later.
Keeping hydrated should help you make more breastmilk. This is essential when pumping because you pump less than your child would eat during a normal feeding so you’ll need to start producing more than your child is making your body think it needs.
My problem with this was that I don’t like water. I actually hate normal water so B had to go out and buy be sparkling flavored water and flavoring packets for my water cups. Luckily, as I got further into my pumping routine, I started actually wanting to drink my juices and water because I was dehydrated.
Pumping is just awkward. You start to not feel like yourself. It is essential to have the support of the people around you so that you are reassured that you are doing what is right for your child. This is where everything went wrong within my workplace.
Before Kayleigh was even born, I was asked multiple times if I was sure I wanted to pump. Eventually, I was given a space to pump in that wasn’t the bathroom, but even to this day I am still asked when I plan on stopping. As if it is inconvenient for me to be a mother.
4. Find a Nursing-Friendly Top
This is actually more difficult than you would expect. My wardrobe before Kayleigh was tight button downs or shirts that didn’t stretch. These are pretty much impossible to pull up and get to your nursing bra within the 30 minutes you have to pump at work.
I ended up having to have my mom take me out and find flowy shirts or just nice plain shirts that I could easily lift up without having to take it completely off. It was either that or find a place that sells nursing tops, but those aren’t very desk job easy.
5. The Hair Band hack
The theory behind this is that you put a hair band on your wrist and change the wrist its on based on which breast the baby was to nurse on next. There are also clips you can put on your bra or apps that you can use.
At first this was great because I almost always had a hair band on my wrist anyway. But this didn’t help me with pumping at work. I had a double breast pump so I got used to pumping both sides, but when I would go to nurse I would forget to change it since I didn’t have to do that during the day.
6. Stock Up on Nursing Pads
Yes. Just Yes. I think in the last 8 months I have bought 4 or 5 BOXES of nursing pads. You leak ALL THE TIME! I don’t remember the last time I took a shower and didn’t have milk squirt everywhere!
I couldn’t even image if my breasts started leaking through my bra and shirt at work. How exactly do you explain that to your male, conservative CEO during a meeting?
7. Make a Nursing Bra
The idea behind this is to save money by not having to buy a nursing bra. You just cut holes in a sports bra big enough to hold the pumps! I am not craft enough for this, so I decided to buy a nursing bra.
According to the one I was buying on Amazon, I should have been a small. But I gained weight like most pregnant women and am still not small enough to fit into the one I bought. So no, I don’t use a nursing bra.
8. Lactation Stimulating Soothies.
As mentioned before, it’s imperative that you build up your milk supply in order to pump as much as your baby is eating at home. Unfortunately, I never actually built it all up and ended up having to supplement with formula. My bottles are half formula, half breast milk.
When my daughter was 2 weeks old, I got sick and lost a lot of my milk supply. Our pediatrician told me to take Fenugreek three times a day to help build it up. This worked so I never had to take any Lactation Stimulating Soothies, but I heard they are delicious.
9. Use a Scarf as a Nursing Cover
This is very good advice for people who are nursing in public. However, this was helpful for the first couple of weeks as I was pumping. Even though I had a room to pump in at work with a lock, I didn’t trust that someone wouldn’t try to open the door.
Now that I’ve been doing it for so many months, I trust that everyone knows what I am doing. It definitely helps that I put my “break” times on my schedule so everyone knows where I am and what I am doing at 10:30, 12:30, and 3.
10. Purchase Milk Savers
I repeat YOU LEAK A LOT when breastfeeding. This is the one thing that I wish I had done. With how much I leak, it would be so much more help for me to be able to store the milk that leaks into milk savers instead of it just sitting in nursing pads.
When you are already struggling to pump enough for your child, it could be essential to have this save whatever milk you make in the first place.
In conclusion, many of these were helpful and some were not. I am sure that it didn’t help to work for a business that was very “anti-mothers.” Pumping is a scary, weird processes but I am so glad that I get a chance to provide for my daughter as long as I have. Now just to finally stop pumping!
-Trying Not to Go Crazy