Making the decision to breastfeed your baby is one of the most important decisions you will make when it comes to baby. I personally did not breastfeed my older son and now wish that I did. Granted, I was much younger and less mature then. (lol) Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with formula feeding. I did it with my oldest, and I personally was formula fed. And as my Mama says “You turned out alright!”
However, the benefits of breastfeeding convinced me that this time around I would do it. So I did! I would be lying if I said that it isn’t a struggle sometimes. There are a lot of times where I am so tired of pumping that I want to throw in the towel, such as those middle of the night pumps.
But then I look at his little face and think that this is the best thing for him and I am instantly motivated to continue. I’ve gotten so motivated that I decided to make a list of the top 10 tips for mamas who plan to breastfeed. So without further ado:
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1. Purchase your pump BEFORE you have your baby.
Buying your pump before you have your baby should be at the top of your list. Mainly because when you are in labor you are going to have a million other things on your mind(such as wondering how am I ever going to get this kid out of me!) and trying to pick out and purchase a pump is not going to be very important to you.
Most insurance companies now cover the cost of your pump for you. You can visit here and find out if you’re insurance covers a pump and order through their site. Or you can purchase the pump I currently use and LOVE here. The medela pump is so easy to use because it is a double electric pump and has strong suction which means more milk quicker! It’s also really small and lightweight to carry. Plus Medela is a very trusted brand. Either way, having it ahead of time is the way to go. I absolutely love this pump!
2. Do lots of research before you purchase your pump.
I cannot stress this enough! When I was choosing a pump I read lots of reviews on many different pumps. There are quite a few different ones out there and being that this was my first time breastfeeding, I really depended on other Moms opinions of the pumps they used. Read my review on the Medela pump in style advanced breast pump to learn about how awesome it is. There are different options to choose from such as manual pumps, battery-powered pumps and electric pumps(more on this later). Being able to read other Moms experiences with different pumps was so helpful in deciding what I needed for myself. You want to have a pump that you are not only comfortable with, but that will work well and last the duration of your breastfeeding experience.
3. Buy an electric double pump.
Ok, so everyone is different, but in my opinion, an electric double pump is an absolute must. Once you start pumping you will quickly figure out that it is no quick process. Trying to pump one breast at a time is very time consuming. It is even more difficult if you are trying to pump and entertain baby. It usually takes me about 20-30 minutes to pump. (I do two let down cycles to produce more milk).
I can’t imagine doubling that time because I had to use a single manual pump. I will note however that it is a good idea to buy a manual pump for the times when you are away from the house and need to pump. You don’t realize how quickly your breasts fill up until you are out doing your grocery shopping and errands and feel your breasts start to leak! The one I use is the Medela Pump in Style Advanced. You could also buy a car adapter for your electric pump as well. Here is one that works with my pump.
4. Make sure your breast shields are the correct size.
If you’ve never pumped before then you have no idea how uncomfortable it can be if your sensitive nipples are being squeezed too tight.
The first couple of weeks of pumping was well, to be honest, painful. I had never breastfed or pumped before, so I had no idea what it should or should not feel like.
I did some reading and found out that it should definitely not hurt! And that if it does, it may mean that I need a bigger breast shield size. Most companies offer five shield sizes. You can measure the diameter of your nipples to find the right size for you. It’s so important to get the right size. Not just for comfort but for your milk production as well. If your shield is too tight it can restrict milk flow, thus reducing the amount of milk you produce. You can purchase a different breast shield size at whatever store you bought your pump at.
5. Buy an extra set of valves and tubing.
This kind of goes along with buying the right breast shield size. One thing I didn’t know is that I would need to replace the tubing and valves for my breast pump several times during my pumping experience.
The tubing can get dirty and must be washed weekly. It’s important to let the pump continue to pump even after you remove the shield from the tubing. This dries out all the moisture from the tubing, helping to prevent mold from growing. yuck! This can very easily happen and although you may wash them thoroughly, they can still get moldy. It’s a good idea to purchase new tubing every few months.
You can buy them wherever you bought your pump at. Here are some ones that are compatible with the Medela pump in style pump. I have seen them on Groupon for really cheap too. The valves should be cleaned at every pumping session and should be replaced every few months as well. The little white flap can tear very easily and this can reduce the amount of milk pumped if not replaced. My Medela pump came with extra flaps in it. Gotta love that!
6. Buy breast creams.
Definition of breast creams: God send! After those first couple sessions of pumping, your poor breasts are going to feel like they’ve been through the ringer. They will be sore, possibly cracked and extremely sensitive. (I promise this will change later). It takes time for your breasts to toughen up and get used to pumping and using a breast cream can give you some immediate relief. Slathering a dime sized amount onto your nipples after you pump will help tremendously. Most of them are safe for baby if you’re breastfeeding him too. My favorite is this one. It is Lansinoh and it feels so good on sore nipples. It’s a lightweight cream and not messy. I’ve tried others that have been greasy and make a mess when you try to squeeze some out. Plus there many other uses for it after you are done breastfeeding
7. Buy a hands-free pumping bra.
Ooohhh girl, let me tell you one thing I hated about pumping….holding those two little bottles and not being able to do anything else. Pumping can be boring, especially when you can’t move your hands because your holding onto bottles that keep coming off your breasts, spilling milk all over the place.
Or if your son likes to lay next to you while you pump and kick the bottles off your breasts! Buying a hands-free bra is a LIFESAVER!!!!! It holds the shield part of the pump in place so it won’t fall off and you don’t have to hold them and your hands are free to do other things like change the station on the tv or drink something or pop babies binky back in his mouth after he has spit it out for the third time and then cries for it lol. Trust me, it’s a convenience you want to have.
8. Make a pumping schedule
I find that staying organized helps me so much. You have to decide how often you are going to pump. For me, I pump every 3 hours. In the beginning, when you are trying to establish a milk supply, you might want to pump every 2 hours.
It’s also a good idea to record the times that you pump. I used the notes section of my iPhone. But there are apps that you can use that are really cool too. Just make sure that you pump as much at the same time as possible because when you go long amounts of time without pumping, you can develop mastitis, a painful infection of the breast tissue. Make a schedule and stick to it and you’ll be fine.
9. Get adequate water, food and rest.
One of the things I think we as mothers forget about is taking care of ourselves. We are so concerned with the welfare of our children that we forget that in order to care for them we must be healthy too!
To keep up a good and healthy milk supply be sure to drink LOTS of H2O!!! A good tip that I read was to drink an 8 ounce glass of water every time your baby nurses. That is usually 8-10 times daily so you are getting a lot of water in. The more you drink, the more you pump.
Eat often. What I mean by this is to eat every few hours in small meals and snacks. The body is constantly burning off all that you consume when you breastfeed, so you are going to need constant calorie intake to keep up. Now it has to be healthy. You don’t want to eat a bunch of junk every few hours. Small snacks like nuts or fruit will suffice between meals. Just as long as you’re getting enough calories, you should be able to produce plenty of milk.
I know firsthand how stressful pumping and breastfeeding can be. “Am I going to produce enough?” “Will my baby latch?” “Is it going to be painful?” “What do I do when I go back to work?” I thought all of these things and more, but TRUST ME, it will all be fine. Think of it this way, God made your body with the AMAZING capability to completely grow and feed your baby. YOU GOT THIS!
Do yall have any good breastfeeding tips? Drop me a comment, I’d love to hear from you!
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