Monday, March 25, 2013

Part 2: Choosing a Pump/My Favorite Pumping Accessories/Increasing Milk Supply

Hello again, Mamas!

Welcome to Part 2 of my breastfeeding/pumping journey- Choosing a Pump/My Favorite Pumping Accessories/Increasing Milk Supply.  You can read Part 1 here.

Choosing a Pump (and my favorite accessories)
When I started registering for baby items, I looked at breast pumps.  I knew that I would need one if I wanted to go back to work (although some delusion in my head told me Amelia would never drink out of a bottle-read all about that in part 1).  I looked at all of the different options, and I realized that they all looked similar.  I'd heard of Medela, so I knew I would probably choose that brand (plus Medela seemed to have the best reviews).  Let me just say that I don't work for Medela, these are simply my opinions!

I ended up in the hospital WAY before I was ready, so I didn't get much time to shop.  Luckily, since I knew that Amelia would be here early, I also knew that the NICU would lend me a pump until she got out-which I knew would be enough time to find one of my own.  I considered buying one from a friend, but after talking to a lactation nurse at the hospital, I decided to buy my own.  The nurse told me that pumps have the tendency to get really dirty and can get black mold build up behind the faceplate-even if it comes from a SUPER clean home.  She gave me a tip about a small hospital selling pumps for way cheaper than retail price, so we did that.

The pump was the Pump In Style Advance from Medela.  It was perfect for me.  It is a double electric (meaning you can do both sides at once) it comes with a cooler with ice pack, 4 bottles, pump parts, the bag with the pump built in, power supply and a car battery pack.
One of the great reasons to chose a Medela pump, is that the hospitals use Medela, so when they get you started, you get a set of Medela pump parts-so you end up with a spare set.  It is really convenient when you want to give one set of parts a good sanitizing.

The car battery pack was awesome for me, I was able to use it if I wanted to go shopping or had to go out of town for work etc.  The ice pack keeps the milk safe for several hours, so you don't have to worry about not having a fridge available.

I wore a pumping bra everyday (and night).  I had 3, and I just rotated washing and wearing. Yes my boobs looked pretty sad, but yes it was a heck of a lot more comfortable than wearing a bra with wires in it.   I had something similar to this:
find it here
I almost always wore a tank top too-that way I could manipulate it to help keep the bottles and parts from tipping over while using the bra.  I really worked out a strategy, otherwise I would spill milk all over me.  That happened a lot too-and let me tell you about spilling the milk...that ended in a lot of tears, and maybe a "few" swear words.

My favorite bra pads are the Johnsons' Nursing Pads.  You can find them here.  I always got them at Walmart.  They were the only ones that I felt dry with, and that didn't feel like I was wearing a maxi pad on my boobs.  The box looks like this:

they also come in a blue box

I also used Medela Pump Wipes for when I wouldn't have soap and water available.  They are a little expensive, but you pay for the convenience.  They look like this:

Increasing Milk Supply

So let me start by saying that I rarely had a supply issue, I'm not trying to be a show-off, it's just true.  I was really luck to be so successful at it.  However, when I did have some problems this is the list of things that I would try and that usually helped:

  • eat tons of Oatmeal-oatmeal, oatmeal cookies, granola bars with oatmeal in them etc.
  • drink TONS of water-I could always tell when I hadn't had enough water 
  • drink milk and lots of it (I drink skim)
  • take a hot shower or hot bath
  • relax-seriously, try not to stress out about it, or other things.  Stress really affects your supply-so make someone rub your shoulders
  • hot wash rags on the's glorious.  Sometimes massaging them would help too (don't let the hubs do that though-they don't know how to be gentle :) ).
  • increase pumping-as in pump longer and more often.  The more you pump (or breastfeed) the more your body makes
  • pump at work-they HAVE to let you (but they don't have to pay you for it).  Most employers are really cool about it-just don't abuse it.  When I went back to work, I would pump right before work, my supply was good enough that I would usually wait until my lunch break and pump then, then take a break about 3 1/2 hours later to pump again. Check out your state La Leche League site for laws in your state.
  • do NOT try to lose baby weight while you are establishing your milk supply-it's going to jack your stuff up.  I waited 4 months, then I joined Weight Watchers (they have a nursing mother plan).  I lost 40 lbs really fast by JUST watching what I was stuffing in my face.  Now I have to exercise, which totally blows :)
  • kangaroo with baby-this is a common practice in the NICU.  take your shirt off and lay skin to skin with baby.  It helps your milk let down, it helps baby neurologically, and you get some sweet cuddle time in.  I would get the best cat naps when I kangarooed with Amelia.
  • I never tried Fenugreek, but some of my Mama friends swore by it.
  • get tons of rest.  Nap when baby naps-seriously, they are NOT kidding when they tell you in the hospital.  Your laundry will get done eventually-but making milk is HARD, and exhausting.  You can clean the house when baby is 6 months old :)

What did you do to increase supply?

Part 3 will be about what to do when you are ready to stop pumping, and how to clean your pump!  Stay tuned!

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