This is the email I send when people ask me for help with exclusive pumping. I am by no means an expert through anything other than experience. This was put together with another pumping mama who has also been successful at exlusively pumping. This is what we figured out worked for us...
Hello fellow pumper-
Here is my list of pumping tips that I send to beginning pumpers. Hope it helps!! Good Luck
-Always use olive oil, or even better, coconut oil on your horns!! You must lubricate. Plus it is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Be sure you are using the correct size of horn/shield as well. Most women need a size larger than what is included with their pump
-You must use a double electric pump for full stimulation. I love the Medela PISA and Freestyle. And the freedom that comes with the Freestyle is priceless!
-To save time, do not wash your horns and pump bottles after every pump. Pour your milk into whatever storage unit your are using. Then place the horns, bottles and connectors into a large ziploc and place in the fridge. At the end of the day, wash with hot soapy water and sterilize.
-Make your own hands free pump bras. I like sports bras for this. I will include a tutorial for this at the bottom. I like this method better than the Freestyle hands free set up or the Easy Expressions pump bras that you can buy. THIS IS A MUST!!
-Always pump for at least 5-10 minutes past the last drop of milk. This will stimulate your breasts to make more milk. So, be sure you are pumping a MINIMUM of 20 minutes each session. And aim for 120 minutes total pumping time per day.
-Do breast compressions/massaging while pumping, you will get waaaay more milk!! This is much much easier if you are using a hands free bra! Plus it helps to drain your breasts better, preventing plugged ducts.
- The first 12 weeks are crucial for establishing your supply. Tell yourself that you are gonna pump your tail off those 3 months and then let yourself relax a little. You need to pump every 2-3 hours during the day and 1x between 1-5am. The middle of the night pump is very important in setting up a good supply. Its hard, but force yourself to do it.
- I save time by pumping while I drive. I have 3 little kids- life had to resume even with pumping! So, since I always have a hands free bra on, I just hook myself up after I put my seat belt on. I make sure to leave a receiving blanket in the car to throw over the pump. So, of course, bring your cooler! If you're uncomfortable pumping in public, you now have the privacy of your car. I have an outlet in the van, but if you don't, many of the pumps come with a battery pack for this reason. Or the Freestyle runs off a battery anyways. By the way, as long as you remain buckled, this is perfectly safe and legal. All the EPers that I know do this.
-Pump while you feed the baby. You can put baby in the Boppy next to you or a bouncy chair. Us EPers are already pulling double duty, try to save time when you can. Hence again, the hands free bras!!
-You can take 12 capsules of Blessed Thistle and 12 capsules of Fenugreek to help increase your supply. Both of these herbs are perfectly safe for both you and baby while breastfeeding. Other effective galactagogues: Brewers Yeast, Fennel seed, Goats Rue, Hops (beer), Nettle Leaf, Alfalfa, Anise, Pineapple juice, Steel cut oatmeal & Lactation cookies (link at the bottom for recipe)You could also consider getting a prescription from your doctor for Domperidone or Reglan. Both these medications are known to increase breast milk supply. Dom is safer, as Reglan can cause depression.
-Drink, drink, drink!! I know you know to drink water, but I bet you don't drink enough! This by far the most important piece of advice. Water intake = breast milk output!
-Drink a protein shake or eat a protein bar daily. Many women see a correlation between protein and their milk supply. Burt also allow yourself to indulge. I eat my fair share of fatty foods and tell myself- Its all for the milk! lol But seriously- lots of women that try to diet while EPing loose the supply.
-Power pump every night before bed. When a baby is breastfeeding, many times they will cluster feed in the evenings. This means they will eat much more frequently and it usually happens during a growth spurt. Power pumping is the EP version. This is a HUGE way of increasing your supply. Here's how:
pump 20 min
turn off 10 min
pump 10 min
turn off 10 min
pump 10 min and done.
I choose to do this when all the kids are asleep at the end of the day. Kick back with your hands free pump bra, power pump and watch a movie. I still do this if my output is not where I would like it.
I did a variation of this (beside the regular power pump every night) whenever my output was not what I was looking for. If I normally would pump 10 oz, but only got 7oz.. I would turn the pump off for 5 min or so, then turn it back on for another 5-10min. I would almost always get another letdown. This sounds very consuming and annoying. But I did this for the first 6 months. I became obsessed with the number output!! Just tell yourself- this will not last forever! I can do this.
-During the summer heat, try to stay shaded or indoors. You will dehydrate much much easier now that you are pumping. We need all your fluids going to your milk ;)
-Chart everything. I still do this. I write down how much baby eats and when. And I also write down how much I pumped, when and how long I took. Its very encouraging when you begin to see your numbers grow. Or helpful in the aspect too. If your output was not good that day, you may choose to power pump that evening and drink more water before bed.
-Do continue to keep putting your baby back to breast, if that is at all an option. I am telling you- pumping is WAY way way harder. Not only that, but our bodies are meant to respond to a baby...not a pump. The more time you have skin to skin with your baby and you are trying to breast feed, the more milk you will make. There is a hormonal response we mothers have when our babies are near us. It WILL help you make more milk. Try nursing in a warm bath. Try different positions. Try massaging your breasts or pump a little to get a good let down, then put baby on. Try using a nipple shield if your baby is now used to the feel of the bottle's nipple. Just keep trying.....it will be so worth the efforts.
-Give this time. You supply will not grow overnight. This is a process. When I first started pumping I was pumping out 24 oz a day. Which was the same as what my baby would eat. 6 months later, I pump 65-70oz a day. But it was very gradual. Can you imagine if that did happen overnight?? LOL
-And lastly, try to relax. Stress can ruin your milk supply. I put this on my fridge to remind me that God was in control and I still read it everyday.
I also read a sign in front of a church at the beginning of my EP journey. It really hit home. It read:
Faith makes things possible, not easy.
Here are some links that may help.
(my fav!) These moms are awesome and know so very much!! I never would have made it this far with out this cite!
you may have to be a member to view this one
again- i think you have to apply to this group
(this accessory is a life saver for some)
I use a sports bra. I also use a little fray lock to keep the holes from running.
I think that's it. Easy right? Just kidding...not funny, I know ;) And if you need to talk to someone that has been there, feel free to email. Support is extremely important.