Healthy Kids

42 Days of Pumping

That’s how much time I have spent pumping, cleaning and sterilizing pump parts and putting extra milk away in the last 6 months. Yes, that’s right folks, in the last 6 months, I have spent a month and half-straight. JUST PUMPING. This does not include how many times I have washed cloth diapers, changed diapers, put Penelope to sleep, played with her, fed her, etc. This is the time I spend just being able to feed my child my breast milk.

I don’t know why this lady looks so happy. Pumping is not fun. At all.

I got to that number by stopping to think today, that not only is Penelope six months old, but I have been pumping for 6 months. I am very proud to say that I have made it this far. I am now a part of the 12% of mothers who breastfeed longer than 6 months.

Here’s the breakdown of how I got my number. I was actually pretty conservative. Sometimes my pump sessions can be as long as an hour, especially in the morning. And in the first few months, I would “power pump” sessions in the early evening hours to simulate a “cluster feed” like a newborn would do.

month 1: 12 times a day for 25 minutes: 300 minutes (5 hours)=9,000 minutes (150 hours) a month
month 2:10 times a day for 30 minutes: 300 minutes (5 hours)=9,000 minutes (150 hours) a month
month 3: 8 times a day for 35 minutes: 280 minutes (4.6 hours)=8, 400 minutes (140 hours) a month
month 4: 6 times a day for 40 minutes: 240 minutes (4 hours)= 7,200 minutes (120 hours) a month
month 5: 4 times a day for 45 minutes: 180 minutes (3 hours)=5,400 minutes (90 hours) a month
month 6: 4 times a day for 45 minutes: 180 minutes (3 hours)=5,400 minutes (90 hours) a month

740 hours. 31 straight days of pumping. 44,400 minutes

all 6 months: 1.5 hours a day cleaning/sterilizing pump parts and putting milk away: 270 hours.

Total: 1,010 hours. 42 days.

Having a fat and healthy baby who has never had a drop of formula: PRICELESS!

oh and all that pumping yielded an average of 35 ounces a day, so total in the last 6 months, I made 6,300 ounces of milk!!

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  • Fletchymama
    May 13, 2010 at 4:33 AM

    And we are oh so amazingly thankful for all those wonderful hours! 🙂

  • Erinn
    May 13, 2010 at 5:05 PM

    Holy mackerel. 6300 oz is just shy of 50 gallons. Boobs are amazing.

  • Stephanie
    May 13, 2010 at 9:32 PM

    @Kayla…I am so thankfully to give some away. It makes it even more worth the effort.

    @Erinn….that is a great way of putting it! Pretty crazy when you think about it that way.

  • cd
    August 10, 2010 at 8:29 PM

    Hi! I just stumbled on your site from another mama site (I fell down a link hole and popped out here 🙂

    Kudos to you for your dedication to pumping!

    I've got a 5 month old who is breastmilk only and pumping is a beast of a chore! I have a let-down problem (supply seems fine) and have to pump every hour I'm at work to eek out enough for the next day (which isn't really enough and I'm pretty sure she's reverse cycling. Oh for a night of sleep!)

    Anyway – just wanted to say Good for You! because I think the world takes pumping for granted as something easy. It's not! The constant cleaning alone makes my head crazy!

  • Stephanie
    August 11, 2010 at 3:11 AM

    @cd..Hi!! I do that all the time, I just keep clicking on links and then think, "how the hell did I get here?!"

    ah, the let down. its such a powerful and amazing thing our bodies do, but it can be complicated. When my daughter first started comfort nursing, I had to leave the pump on so I could hear it and help send the signal to my brain to let down. But now I can let down to her or the pump.

    Are you in a relaxed place? I always have an easier time expressing milk, if my daughter is napping so I really relax, and sitting down on the computer (i use a Pumping Pal to be hands free). If I am in the car or some place else, I can't pump as much milk.

    thanks for the support!

  • cd
    August 11, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    I pump at the office, so, well, as relaxed as it can get there! 🙂 I'm fortunate to have my own space and a door and respectful coworkers and the ability to silence the phone, etc, but I suppose there must be more relaxing places out there. I distract myself with online videos, etc, otherwise I stare at the bottles and think milk milk milk!

    I've tried spreading the pumpings out more and building up more, but that just results in less milk for the day. So every hour, there I go. It's like a mission now as much as I think everyday "wouldn't formula just be EASIER!?" Almost at 6 months and we'll see what happens after…..

  • Stephanie
    August 12, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    @cd…keep up the good work! and yes, formula would be easier. you can do it! Have you looked into supplements to build your supply? kellymom.com has some great info.

  • cd
    August 12, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    Yeah, I bought lots of herbs and whatnot. Nothing seems to change things so my LC and I have settled on it being let-down and not supply related. Guess that's just my body!

  • Lauren
    March 16, 2011 at 3:32 AM

    I've been pumping for the past 4 months and have a huge supply issue. Today for example I pumped 40 minutes every hour and a half and only got 3 ounces. I wish I could say that Ethan has never had formula, but I can't. When I went through all the breast milk I had pumped and the stuff that I had frozen and wasn't producing enough to get through one day we had to do something. If you have any suggestions I would LOVE them!

  • Stephanie
    March 16, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    Hey Lauren,
    Are you exclusively pumping or pumping to build supply?
    Have you tried all the different herbs and homeopathic remedies? Gone to see the acupuncture dr? What about Domperidon? It's expensive but that shit works!

    And have you seen the Healthy Home Economist's tutorial on how to make your own formula? If I was ever to have to supplement this was the route I was going to go.

    Also, have you checked out Eats on Feets? A facebook group where you can find mothers to donate breastmilk to mama's who need it.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Meg
    July 29, 2011 at 3:33 AM

    oh. nevermind. I wasn't reading posts in order, I guess. I'm all caught up now!

  • Stephanie
    July 30, 2011 at 3:10 AM

    Hi Meg! Thanks for reading all the posts, I really appreciate it. Makes the trauma of the experience much less, knowing that people are actually reading my story! So yes, I gave away ridiculous amounts of milk, to 3 different babies. Such a great feeling.

  • ladybuggsmom
    September 17, 2011 at 2:57 AM

    Kudos! As an adoptive mom who pumped/nursed for 5months after inducing lactation, I GET the dedication that pumping requires. Just found your site and LOVE it, and you! Thanks!!

  • Stephanie
    September 17, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    @ladybuggsmom…I am so impressed with adoptive moms who induce lactation and pump. What a beautiful person you must be. So glad you found my site, look forward to having you around and getting to know you. 🙂

  • Bossy Chef
    November 9, 2011 at 9:53 PM

    I had to laugh because I was reading blogs while pumping and I have been counting down the number of days until Bessie (my pump) and I will part ways. She is 10 months on Sunday. I only pump at work and am finally down to 2 pump session (maybe 3 on a bad day) a day. With weekends, Dr. appt. days, and vacation I have 36 days until her first birthday. She has already started weaning so I don't know if we will make it for sure but I doubt we will go much further beyond that.

  • Stephanie
    November 10, 2011 at 12:09 AM

    @Bossy Chef…OMG that is so hilarious and awesome that you named your pump, Bessie. I totally should have named mine.

  • maggie
    January 11, 2012 at 5:43 AM

    thank you for this post. I start my journey through midwifery in the fall. I have a 4 month old (and a 5 yo and 2 yo)who I want to nurse/have breastmilk for at least 2 years. But since I will be back in school in the fall I need to start expressing milk. I have been dreading having to pump at least 14 oz a day to ensure my little love has plenty of milk. But after reading this post I feel very uplifted! geesh if you can pump 35 oz a day, 14 is nothin! So thank you! And thank you for being so real. I truly like your blog. It is great for women to share their knowledge which each other. But now a days it just seems everyone is competing or feels like they are being judged for their decisions. Never in any of the posts I have read do you create the feeling that a mom who chooses to breastfeed, co sleep, do yoga, home birth etc. is some an elitist. Because any woman can do these things. so thank you, and I hope your beautiful words reach many!

  • Stephanie
    January 11, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    @Maggie, thanks so much for your kind words! Good luck to you with school, we need more midwives in the world! And you can SO do 14 ounces!!

  • Carissa
    January 26, 2012 at 4:04 AM

    Great post! I have read most of your posts and found information I wish I would have had before having children. My first would not latch, just scream so I opted to pump exclusively. My second I figured would be the same. My husband tells everyone that I asked to pump before I even saw the baby, which didn’t really happen, but I wanted to get my supply up from the start. Luckly he latched. I would nurse and then pump for 20-30 min. I was at the point where I was pumping anywhere for 12-36oz at a time. He is now 9 months and I have stopped pumping and only nurse first thing in the morning and at bedtime. He will have frozen breatmilk for at least another 6 months. So I guess what I am getting at is start right away and don’t get discouraged. Again thank you for your post.

    • Stephanie
      January 26, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      How great that your second was a better nurser! And congrats on pumping for so long. It is such an accomplishment.

  • Shaina
    January 30, 2012 at 6:28 AM

    Hi! I found your site through Pinterest (the freeze-ahead crockpot preps are a great idea, by the way) and I had to laugh when I saw this entry because I am, in fact, sitting here pumping. I have a love/hate relationship with my pump.
    Right now I choose to mostly pump because it literally takes my daughter (3 mo.) an entire stretch of wakefulness to finish a feeding on the breast, and by the end we’ve both fallen asleep, only to wake in a small pool of milk and drool. I thought I’d be able to pump enough for her feedings, plus start a small stash in the freezer for emergencies or for down the road. Well, I have a measly 4 oz bagged up! I have let down issues and my left side barely functions due to nerve damage from a surgery I needed a few years ago so I’m incredibly jealous of your 35 oz/day!
    Anyhow, I think anyone who can go through the rigamarole of making time to pump and constantly cleaning the equipment deserves a gold fricken star! Good job!

    • Stephanie
      January 30, 2012 at 6:02 PM

      Thanks for your comment! I do deserve a gold star and so do you! Have you tried some herbs for increasing your milk supply?

      • Shaina
        February 1, 2012 at 6:19 AM

        Not yet. I’ve heard of fenugreek but haven’t done much more than check my local drugstore for it. The past day or so I’ve tried to increase my pumping and started nursing more throughout the day (vs. offering expressed milk) so I’m hoping to see an improvement in the next few days. Do you have any more suggestions?

        • Stephanie
          February 1, 2012 at 7:41 PM

          I do, I should do a post on it soon. The book Making More Milk was very helpful to me.

  • Sam
    August 15, 2012 at 3:02 AM

    I was actually reading up on the crockpot freezer meals when read your comment in there about not having to pump as often. I then began searching to see if you were a fellow exclusive pumper. I just wanted to say congrats on that, because it is such a HUGE commitment! I pumped for my daughter for a year…and I never thought I would make it past 2 months. I had a slightly low supply (about 25-28 oz.) per day, and I did have to supplement her for one feeding after 6 months – I returned to work 2 months before and just couldn’t pump as much as I had before. But, because it was only one feeding, we decided to go with organic formula (much more affordable when you only use it once a day). Sorry, I’m rambling. Anyway, kudos to you for sticking with it! It is hard work, and most of my friends and family thought I was crazy for keeping up with it. Toward the end, I couldn’t wait to not pump anymore, and then the day when I had my last session, I cried, sad that I would be packing it away. Go figure!

    • Stephanie
      August 15, 2012 at 1:34 PM

      Thank you!!!

  • KK
    May 5, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    Stumbled upon your site when I googled milk supply issues and pumping about the 1,000,000th time! Thanks for sharing your story and your perspective, for me it was more valuable than any of the information I’ve spent countless hours reading. It’s nice just to have someone say, yes I pumped non-stop and damn straight sometimes it made me bitter! My son will be 3 months old next week and I’ve been almost exclusively pumping since he was a couple of weeks old. We’ve had our share of issues… emergency c-section followed by 5 hours separation while I was in “recovery”, early latch issues which caused major cracks and bleeding, milk not coming in until 6 days later and in the meantime (on day 4) I caved and let them pressure me into bottle-feeding him formula, which made it soooo much harder to try to nurse him afterward (why on earth would he want to do all that work for a drop or two of colostrum when those terrible disposable bottles they give you just pour into his open mouth?). Visits to 3 different lactation consultants helped me get him back on the boob but I continued to be in extreme pain while nursing. I’m told baby’s high palette is to blame, something that may or may not improve with age. But I am determined to feed my baby my milk and so I start pumping… a lot… and surprise surprise, low supply! Luckily a combination of fenugreek, blessed thistle, and a switch from my single-side electric pump to a double electric addressed that issue. Seriously, I used a Medela Swing for the first month and I was a total broken-down exhausted zombie that spent most of the day stuck to the pump, a good portion of the time bawling my eyes out. When I switched to the Freestyle it literally cut my pumping time in half and I noticed an immediate improvement in my supply and my disposition. The only reason I held out as long as I did was the expense, and in retrospect I definately wish I hadn’t waited so long! Pumping isn’t cheap and it sure as hell isn’t easy. I still feel like giving up on the bad days and I know there will be more of them to come. I’m learning not to be so hard on myself when I sleep through the middle of the night alarm, or worse, when I get up to pump and then fall asleep on the couch before I get started! And when loved ones say “there’s no way you can keep this up for a whole year” I try to remember that that’s just their amazingly unhelpful way of being supportive, letting me know its ok if it gets to be too much.

    • Stephanie
      May 7, 2013 at 1:37 AM

      It is ok to stop at any time, but you totally got this if you have made it three months. Those are the hardest. Drop your night pump first and start getting some rest. Whenever I felt like I was about to loose it and I wanted to quit. I just dropped a pump session to take the edge off. Any amount of breast milk you can give your kid is awesome.

  • Roop
    January 29, 2014 at 9:09 PM

    Stephanie,

    Thanks for posting about your pumping routine. I m facing issues with breastfeeding my 5.5 month old. Did u use a manual or an electric pump?

    Pls share.

    • Stephanie
      January 30, 2014 at 3:46 PM

      A n electric pump is needed for sure. I had a medela pump and style, but a lot of women rent medical grade ones from the hospital.