If you’re pumping exclusively, there’s a few things to know:
1) A good quality hospital-grade double electric pump.
Some mums EP with a PIS or Purely Yours, but many will be more comfortable and/or get a better milk yield with a hospital-grade pump. If you’re having trouble with supply using a retail pump, se if you can get a rental for a few weeks to test this out.
2) A hands free bra.
This is essential in my opinion, so that you can double pump while tending to your baby or getting work done. Extra length tubing will let you move around a little, feed the baby a bottle, change a nappy while you’re pumping. Throw a big shirt over your set-up and stay at your desk (or aeroplane seat, or wherever) – no one will see anything they shouldn’t.
Which brings me to
3) Your pump is the way you feed your baby.
You can pump anywhere you could breastfeed. Don’t let yourself feel tied to the house or the desk – get a portable pump too (PIS with battery/car adapter, Isis, Harmony) and pump wherever you happen to be when it’s pumping time. Don’t be shy – if you lock yourself in a closet every time you pump, you’ll feel isolated from the world. It doesn’t take long to learn to stick an Isis or Harmony up your shirt modestly. Floppy shirts help; use a nursing canopy or muslin if you like.
4) If you can manage longer pump sessions (the hands free bra helps), do it
– extra let-downs mean more milk, and more lovely fatty hindmilk.
5) Stop pumping after ten or fifteen minutes, and
massage-stroke-shake your breasts. Compress and massage your breasts while you’re pumping.
Power pump – go back to the pump several times over the course of an hour or two, for five or ten minute sessions at a time.
6) Extra pump parts,
so you’re not forever rinsing and washing. You don’t need to sterilise the parts unless you have an immunosuppressed or special-needs baby; just rinse immediately after use with hot water and air dry. Wash in hot soapy water or a dishwasher once a day, being sure to get all the milk out from the yellow & white valve & flap. Forget antibacterial wipes and all that other gubbins people will try to sell you. You don’t need antibacterial chemicals to have a healthy baby; they’ll just create more resistant “superbugs” in the environment, and they might eliminate the “good bacteria” (probiotic bacteria) that the baby needs.
7) Rest, relax, calories and fluids
Guilt and stress are big-time supply busters. Get counselling if you need it, antidepressants if you need them. Talk to your midwife, counsellor, LC, doctor, partner, friends. There is a lot of discussion about lactogenic foods, including oatmeal, barley, fenugreek and lots of others – check out kellymom.com and the yahoogroup MOBI for more information.
8) The right size flanges
for you may make an enormous difference to your comfort. Experiment with the difference sizes available to find out what works best. Don’t muck about trying to work out how many millimetres across your nipples are; these guides are dodgy at best. Just try it, and use what works and is comfortable.
9) Lube the flanges
with olive oil – much, much better than horn burn.
10) Don’t dump that milk!
If any health care professional ever suggests you pump and dump,
research the medication/procedure independently first (kellymom.com, MOBI, and misc.kids.breastfeeding are good places to start). Nine times out of ten, the doctor is wrong. If you’re not sure, label the milk clearly, freeze it, and find out. Don’t dump first and ask questions later.
11) Have a working backup plan, and learn to hand express!
What do you plan to do if there’s a blackout? If your pump breaks? If all your pump parts get broken or melted? If your car breaks down, if you’re in the ER unexpectedly, some other emergency arises? Overnighting new gear is all very well, but it won’t be here soon enough for your next session. So, be sure to have a battery pack and/or a manual pump that you know works for you, and learn to hand express effectively.
12) Above all, love and enjoy your baby.