Welcome to Part 3 of my breastfeeding/pumping journey-"What to do when you are ready to stop pumping/how to clean your pump"....long enough title for you?
Don't forget to check out Part 1 (the beginning of the breastfeeding/ pumping journey) and Part 2 (Choosing a Pump/My Favorite Pumping Accessories/Increasing Milk Supply).
Making the Decision to Stop/What to do when you stop:
I really struggled with making the decision to quit pumping. When people would ask me when I was going to stop, or they teased me for still pumping, I would get really emotional and kinda crazy about it, because I felt like this was the one thing that I could give Amelia that no one else could. It took me a while to finally be ok with quitting. However, I made this decision all by myself. Aaron was so supportive of what I wanted to do, he never put any pressure on me-in fact he took all the pressure off. So after exclusively pumping for 14ish months, I decided that I was ready. Amelia has been so healthy, and I still had a freezer full of breast milk. I was starting to feel like I was missing out on a lot with her because I was always tied to my pump.
I had been reducing the amount I was pumping for a few weeks. I got down to 4 times a day, then went to 3 time for a week or two. For some reason, in my silly mind, I thought that if I stopped for a day, that my milk would dry up and go away, and every thing would go back to normal. Oh silly girl, not a chance! Let me tell you-my boobs were killin' me and I had no idea that I could get that engorged! Since I had only been pumping 3 times a day, I was hardly getting anything, but wow. I got online to try to figure out what to do. I read a lot about cabbage, and pumping just a little bit, and wrapping your boobs in an ace bandage. I could never find any more information about the cabbage thing though-what the heck were they talking about? So finally I figure out that they meant buying a head of cabbage and putting the leaves on your boobs. I thought that was too weird, but I was desperate. So I went right out to the store, bought a head of red cabbage like this:
and a sports bandage like this:
I peeled off a few leaves, positioned them over my boobs (especially covering the nipples), put some bra pads in my sports bra, and had Aaron wrap me as tight as I could stand it. I thought it would hurt, but it felt so good to have the support. I looked as flat chested as a 6th grader, but I just crossed my arms a lot and wore loose fitting clothes.
The cabbage worked because there is some sciencey-sounding enzyme in there to make you leak. I changed the leaves every few hours, (when I needed a break to breath). The leaves would be really wilted, so I would dry off and change to fresh ones. The trick is to getting wrapped as tight as you can stand it. It's uncomfortable to be wrapped that tightly, however it feels so good to have the support (the song "Hurt So Good" comes to mind). After a week, I was dried out. HALLELUJAH! It has been so nice to actually get to participate in life and not be tied to the pump! I don't regret pumping for as long as I did, nor do I regret quitting when I did. I'm happy with what I did!
How to clean your pump
I mentioned back in Part 2 about how the lactation nurse at the hospital told me about pumps having the tendency to get black mold build up behind the faceplate. Aaron and I don't know that we will have another kid, because the whole journey with getting pregnant, staying pregnant and Amelia being in the NICU was so traumatizing, but if we do, I wanted to make sure that my pump would be usable again. I gave it a very thorough cleaning. Here are the steps:
1. Dismantle the pump bag (take everything out of the pockets, pull the pump out of the bag-don't forget all of the little velcro panels.
2. Put the bag and velcro panels in the washing machine on delicate with laundry soap. We have a regular top loading washing machine-we are special enough to have an HE machine-but if I did, I would've used the "Hand Wash" cycle. I was really nervous about this part, I feared it would damage the bag, but no amount of wiping would clean the nasty thing. The picture above is the after picture-I purposefully didn't take a before picture because it was nasty. After it was done washing, I hung the pump bag on a hanger and hung it up to drip dry.
3. Before the bag was in the washer, I washed all of the pump parts thoroughly by hand, including the tubes. I used the pump to dry out the tubes really well before packing them away. While the bag was in the washer, I took the faceplate off of the pump and gave everything a sanitizing wipe down. I used the Medela pump wipes for the this, because I new they would sanitize. I let everything dry out for 2 days just to be extra safe.
4. After getting everything cleaned up (including the power pack and battery pack) and letting it all dry, I put the pump back into the bag. Then I packaged the pump parts, power packs and the manuals up in individual gallon ziplock bags and stored them in the bag. I put it in the giant rubbermaid container that has the 8 million bottles that we used to store frozen milk. We weren't fans of the bags, I had terrible luck with them splitting and leaking when we would thaw them.
That, my friends, is the conclusion to my extremely condensed version of my pumping and breastfeeding journey! If you have any questions, feel free to message me, I feel like I've tried so many different things, that I probably can tell you what worked best for me on most situations.
Oh and Happy Easter :)