Breastfeeding can be hard. I mean REALLY hard. You know what else can be hard? Pumping. You know what can be REALLY, REALLY hard? Exclusive pumping. When I got pregnant with my youngest son, I decided that I was going to breastfeed him. I didn’t do it with my oldest son and I always regretted it. So I read everything I could on breastfeeding and crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Then I had him and it was time to feed him. Not at all how I thought it would be. He latched ONE time. The nurses, doctors, lactation consultants came in and we only could get him on ONCE. He drank for 15 minutes on my right breast and when it was time to switch him to my left, we couldn’t get him to latch properly. I was super frustrated and starting to get sore. The nurse finally said, “why don’t you try using the pump to get your colostrum out so he can at least get some of it until he starts to latch?” So I began using the pump and it’s been pumping ever since. Ironically, when he turned about a month old I got him to latch just fine. By then I had been pumping exclusively for a month and just decided to keep it that way because I was returning to work and knew I would have to pump anyway.
Learning to breastfeed and pump is a journey and one I’m so glad I decided to take. All that pumping helped build up my milk supply. Here’s how I built an awesome breast milk supply using a pumping schedule.
*Note* This is if you decide to exclusively pump. You can also use a pumping schedule if you are breastfeeding on the boob as well but it will be adjusted in times and how much is produced.
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Start pumping in the hospital
If you are going to establish an awesome breast milk supply, you need to start pumping early. The first day or so you will only produce colostrum (a special milk that contains antibodies to protect your baby) and will only produce it in small amounts. If you are exclusively pumping or have to exclusively pump then this is a good time to start pumping. Colostrum is perfect for your babies first meal and will actually help them pass their first stool. It’s important that baby gets this milk. Most hospitals have a medical grade pump in the room with you or you can bring your own pump with you. I recommend using the hospital’s while you are there because it has a much stronger suction than a regular one. Don’t worry they give you your own set of pumping bottles and flanges! It’s essential to pump soon after your baby is born in order to tell your body to produce more milk. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand system. The more you drain the breasts, the more they fill back up. Pump as soon as you can!
Write down a schedule you can stick to!
When you come home from the hospital take a few minutes (preferably while baby is napping and you actually have a moment to do anything lol) and write down a pumping schedule you can actually stick to. Now I know things can change day to-day. Especially with a newborn baby, but this is essential and I’ll tell you why. The first week or so is CRUCIAL in helping establish your breast milk supply. If you pump consistently and properly drain your breasts each time, then you will cue your body to produce lots of milk. In the beginning I was shocked at how full my breasts would get. I literally couldn’t go longer then 3 hours without pumping or I would leak everywhere! And if I heard my baby cry or lifted him, forget it! I’d get the little pull in my boobs and leak all over the place. These breast pads were my saving grace. I’ve tried other brands and these ones were the absolute best. Write down the schedule that suits you and baby. Some babies get up super early and some sleep later. Try to adjust it to accommodate when your baby sleeps and is up. Decide how often you want to pump. In the beginning, I would recommend every 2-3 hours is a good time interval for pumping. Try to stick to your schedule as closely as possible in the first few weeks so that your supply will be established. I would also recommend getting a hands free pumping bra like this one. Take my word for it that it sucks to hold the little bottles and not be able to do anything else for 20 minutes. This bra saved my sanity. I remember my little baby spitting out his binky or just needing to feel his Mama’s hand on his and being so frustrated because I couldn’t do it easily while holding those bottles. The best day was when I bought the hands free bra.
Completely drain those boobs girl!
When you’re pumping, make sure you are completely draining your breasts. Try massaging your breasts while pumping and hand expressing after you pump to ensure you get everything out. This will definitely help build you an awesome breast milk supply. Stick to your schedule, even those awful middle of the night pumps. More than likely your baby will be up every few hours at night anyway. I know those ones are the worst because you’re exhausted. But remember why you are making this sacrifice and persevere.
Make sure you stop and pump
Try using an alarm to remind you to pump. Or use an app to keep track of when you last pumped. There are many breastfeeding and pumping tracker apps available to help you track the time and how much you pumped out there. It’s easy to forget what time you last pumped when you have so much going on. Do yourself a favor and make it easy!
Make sure you have the right supplies
If you are going to build an awesome breast milk supply, you need all the right tools to do so.
Here’s what you need:
A breast pump
You will need a reliable breast pump in order to pump. I use and love the Medela pump in style advanced. It is small, lightweight and has great suction. Read here why I chose the Medela pump in style advanced pump.
A nursing bra and the hands free nursing bra
I can’t stress enough how important having a comfortable and good fitting bra is. You don’t want a bra that’s too tight because it will restrict your milk production and could cause issues with your milk ducts. You don’t want to develop mastitis. See my post on How to clear clogged milk ducts so you don’t ever get it. You have to sleep in your bra because you’re going to leak at some point and it’s totally gross if you don’t wear a bra and get the milk all over you. The hands free nursing bra was my saving grace while pumping. I could pump and actually do other stuff too!
As I said before, the Lansinoh nursing pads are the absolute best. They are soft and absorbent and stick well to your bra. I never had leaks with these pads and I’ve tried other brands that did leak. They are the BEST!
You definitely need this while pumping. Especially in the beginning when your boobs are adjusting to being pumped all the time. There are many good creams, but my favorite is the Lansinoh breast cream. It’s not too greasy and it’s nice and thick and helps tremendously. Trust me, breast cream is a God send!
Breast milk storage bags
After you pump that liquid gold, you must have something to put it in! You can store your milk in bottles and airtight containers to refrigerate,but they will only be good for a few days. I like the Lansinoh storage bags because they are good quality. I have tried some cheaper brands and they fell apart or got holes in them when I defrosted them. The Lansinoh ones are a bit more expensive, but definitely worth the money. If you buy them in bulk you can get them for a bit cheaper too.
Building an awesome breast milk supply can seem like a hard thing to do, but with the right tools it is definitely attainable. I hope that each and every one of you are able to use these tips to make lots and lots of milk for your baby.
What did you do to produce more milk for your baby?
Want to know my top 10 tips for Moms who plan to breastfeed? Check my post out over ——-> here.