A few days ago I officially earned my 5 month pumping award!!!
I figured I would do another small update, like I did at 3 months, in order to continue to share my pumping journey.
PPD (Pumps per Day): 3
OPD (Ounces per Day): 45-50
Freezer Stash: 3000+
Donations: 300 Ounces Pending
Hours Spent on the Pump: Approximately 482 Hours
Since my last update a few things have changed. I dropped a middle of the day pump which means I'm only pumping 3 times a day now. I set my alarm and pump at 6AM, 1PM, and 9:30PM before bed. I noticed a small decrease in my supply, but I added 5 extra minutes to my pumping sessions to help with that. I probably pump 35 minutes each session.
The cube freezer we had to purchase for my milk storage is full and I have continued to freeze my over supply in our other freezer. I have around 300 ounces currently set aside and ready to be donated; we are just waiting to make a few arrangements. I'm hoping that I will be able to make another donation in the future.
I get a few questions about EPing from my blog followers, friends, and even family at times so I wanted to put together a small list of "lessons learned", if you will, to help EPers if they are just starting or anyone interested.
How do I know EPing is for Me?: I think as a mom you just know. You know your limits and if you have exhausted all other resources in your breastfeeding struggle. Or, you are going back to work sooner than later after giving birth, and you just want to pump. Or, maybe breastfeeding just isn't for you, but you would like to offer breastmilk instead of formula. Only YOU know if EPing is right for you. There is no shame in it, only the utmost respect.
Where do I Start?: First off, if you have decided to pump full time, GET A GOOD PUMP! It makes a world of difference when it comes to fully emptying your breasts. A poorly functioning pump can tank a good supply.
Second, in the beginning, PUMP, PUMP, PUMP! I cannot stress this enough. 8-10 pumps per day for 25-30 minutes a session. Yes, you will be tied to your pump and you WILL hate it; but it all pay off a couple months in. Eventually, after establishing a good supply, you will be able to drop a few pumps here and there getting back those precious minutes to spend with your little one or tackle the household items.
Third, have a support system in place from the beginning. Your husband, significant other, mom, friends...anyone who can help encourage you along. We will need the support. I also found comfort by joining the Exclusive Pumpers Facebook groups. All those moms are rockstars and often they have the same questions and can offer advice.
What Pump do you Use?: Spectra S2
How to Increase Supply?: O man...there are so many "ways" to try to increase supply. I will give you a few things that I do to increase/maintain my supply.
1. Power Pump: This is key. It mimics a cluster feeding like a baby going through a growth spurt would have. You want to pump until empty, then turn pump off for ten minutes, pump for ten minutes, off for ten, pump for ten, off, pump for ten. In the beginning this is a good idea to do once a day or every-other day to help get supply up.
2. Mother's Milk Tea: I feel like you have to drink a lot of this to notice a difference, but I actually like the taste (some don't) so drinking a few cups a day wasn't a chore for me.
3.Gatorade: I swear by this. Especially if you are having trouble getting a ton of water in during the day (also a HUGE must have for breastfeeding).
4. EAT!: It can be kinda annoying to not loose the baby weight as fast as some other moms, but you HAVE to keep your calories up throughout the day or your supply will take a hit. Don't plan on dieting while EPing.
5. Don't Stress: It's really hard to do this. If you are an under-supplier worried about getting enough breastmilk for your baby, you worry. If you are worrying then you are stressing, and if you are stressing it can cause a dip in supply. Try not to stress about pumping.
There are several other things you can try, but I have tried the above and found they help.
Is it hard work?: O MY HEAVENS...YESS! You essentially have to do double duty. Pump AND deal with bottles/cleaning/sterilizing etc. Plus, in the beginning you are tied to a pump so much it makes going out for a second really tough. You need to find places to pump on the go, deal with keeping milk cold if out for more than a couple hours, and save all that liquid gold you can because you never know when aunt flow will show up and your supply take a dive. All that aside, if you are dedicated--it is doable. NEVER, let a lactation consultant tell you it isn't possible (sometimes they try). There are so many of us out there and we do it everyday :)
Does your supply even out?: Yes. Just like an exclusively nursing mom's supply will most likely even out after 12 weeks, so does an EPers. That is why it is very important to keep up your 8-10 pumps per day in those first 10-12 weeks. If you are an over-supplier you may be able to drop a pump or two sooner than that, but be watching your ounces.
What bottles are your favorite?: ComoTomo
How long should I pump for?: It is totally up to you! Any little bit of breastmilk you can offer your baby is wonderful! 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and beyond...it is all up to you. Don't ever feel down on yourself if 3 months is all you want to do. Personally, my first goal is 6 months and since that is looking doable, I plan on working toward my second goal of a year.
Does it hurt?: It can. Try to use lanolin or coconut oil on your breasts to help. Using the correct flange sizes is key for long term pumping.
Any additional equipment that I need?: I would recommend a hands free pumping bra. Life saver! A few others: nursing bra (not needed, but great for pumping out and about), nursing cover, nursing pads, milk freezer bags, freezer, and a good book to read while pumping.
Should I keep milk stash?: That is a personal choice. I keep one so that I may be able to stop pumping sooner then a year and still offer breastmilk to my daughter. It may also be helpful if during your pumping journey you need to take medicine that is not safe for breastfeeding.
I hope that answers a few of your questions. If you have something specific, please feel free to email me or comment below.
We are 5 months and going strong! O what a journey!
Keep Pumpin' Mommas :)