Mommy Diaries Off Air

Exclusively Pumping: 20 Days and How I Make It Work

March 9, 2017

From an exclusively breastfeeding mother to an exclusively pumping mother. The transition happened instantly. Like, literally. You can read about it in my [long] heartfelt post atΒ The Day My Baby Changed. Forever.

It hasn’t been one month, it hasn’t been one year. But I never thought I would get this far initially. Once you find your footing, it does get easier.

20 days.

Twenty days since my baby self-weaned, twenty days since I started to express exclusively.

I don’t know for how long I’ll be on this route, but here’s how I made those 20 days work:

1. Use a good sterilizer
Even before I started pumping exclusively, my baby was bottle-fed whenever I had to work. While my baby was no stranger to bottles, I was no stranger to pumping gear. Feeding equipment and pumping gear need to be washed and sterilized before usage, therefore it was imperative to have a good sterilizer at hand. Although these items can be sterilized by submerging them in boiling water for a certain length of time, using a sterilizer is just so much more hassle-free.

I recommend getting a sterilizer with a drying function. This way, your tasks become neater and you won’t have to worry about vapour getting trapped in bottles.

2. Get a good breast pump
If you’re about to give birth, I suggest buying a pump before your baby arrives. That’s what I did. I didn’t want the inconvenience and disruption during confinement, so I went out on a limb and chose one of the best brands in the market — Malish. I’ve been using it for one year and thus far, no complaints. If I had one, it would be that it has a short lifespan if used on battery usage.

I haven’t had the need to send it for service yet, but when I do, I will need a spare! Now that I’m exclusively pumping, I can’t afford to have a caput or broken down breast pump. Especially if it’s at 3am. *Oh, the thought!* It required a little investing, but I got myself another set of the same model, for those rainy days.

If you’re wondering what other brands have a great likening among mothers besides Malish, you can take into consideration Medela, Spectra and Lacte.

3. Maintaining milk yield
Don’t worry about milk supply! You can still sustain production even without direct feeding.Β I’m noΒ lactation expert but I’ve been practicing these recommendations, which have so far helped sustain my milk supply for the past 20 days:

– Empty out breasts completely during each pumping session. Even after the last few drops, keep on pumping a little more. This will help stimulate milk for the next session.
– Each pumping session should not be too short nor too long. Ideally, 15-20 minutes.
– Ensure that you eat and not skip meals, as well as have good fluid intake. Drink plenty of water!
– Another recommendation is to express milk as frequently as if we were breastfeeding. I find this to be quite impractical because I nursed all the time, whenever necessary. Now, I pump every 3-5 hours for each feed. So far so good.

4. Wash, wash, wash
Time-consuming but absolutely necessary. If you have help, take turns doing the washing. It’s also a tedious chore because the parts need to be dismantled and washed separately, every single time. Hard to avoid this one. You get used to it.

5. Excess milk
(If you’re yielding more than enough milk per pumping session, this strategy may not apply to you. :-D)
On average, I am able to yield 5 oz of milk from a pumping session that’s done every 3-4 hours. Neither an under-supplier nor an over-supplier, there are times I am able to get more than 5 oz. If you’re worried about the amount you yield after each pumping session, bear in mind that there are a lot of factors which influence your supply. Before you come to a conclusion that you ‘don’t have any milk’, ask yourself:

– When was the last feed? (whether direct latch or via bottle)
– When was your last pump? (if you are exclusively pumping)
– Have you eaten/drank enough?

If you breastfed your child an hour ago and here you are pumping, you won’t get as much as compared to waiting for another two hours or so. It’s also good to obtain information from a lactation consultant in order to help you get through your breastfeeding journey.

Whenever I have a substantial amount of excess milk, I store them. Currently, I have storage in the freezer and the refrigerator.

{{ EBM in the freezer >> My milk bank.
If for any reason I am not able to pump on any given day and I have some time to buy, this is where I’ll be heading.

{{ EBM in the refrigerator >> My milk ATM.
If I yield less than 5 oz on during any pumping session, I can withdraw ‘fast milk’ from my storage in the refrigerator for immediate usage, to be added into what I’ve just expressed. You can mix EBM that’s expressed on different days, as long as there’s no massive difference in time interval.

EBM stored in the refrigerator has a shorter lifespan, so do take note of the date they are expressed.

Why not just give the excess milk to the baby instead of putting it aside, you ask?
In times of excess milk, there have been occasions where my baby signified her contentedness after consuming 5 oz of milk, leaving the rest in the bottle. When my baby’s done, she does what I call a ‘bottle-drop’, inspired by what we adults know as a mic-drop. LOL. If your baby doesn’t want to finish off that excess milk, you’re at risk of dumping it. Five ounces per feed is sufficient, anyway.

This excess milk can also be used to prepare a bottle on standby when you plan to head out and there’s no where to pump.

6. Find alternatives
I won’t be able to fully rely on breast milk forever, even if I was breastfeeding. I am slowly introducing fresh milk/cow’s milk to my daughter, who is already one year of age, while also finding formula that suits her taste. These alternatives will serve as a supplement on top of breast milk.

7. The hardest part
The hardest part about exclusive pumping is preparing for the night feed, after I’ve fallen asleep. Sometimes, I stay up so I won’t miss the chance to pump before being awoken by a hungry baby. Until the alternatives are working, this is the sacrifice I’ll be taking.

8. Get good bottles
I’ve recently switched bottles to a brand called Umee. Unfortunately, my recommendation is to avoid if possible.

Umee bottles come with an additional piece — a vent (ring). This vent is supposed to be secured onto the bottle before you shut it with the valve and teat, to offer extra protection against any leakage.

I have found this extra feature to actually pose a bigger risk of a milk spill…….because it happened to me! I was happily giving my baby a bottle full of milk (5 oz of milk) when I realised something was not right. As she started sucking, the milk reduced in amount soo quickly. Too quickly. My baby definitely doesn’t drink that fast.

Then, I discovered every pumping mother’s nightmare.

Milk was leaking profusely and had dampened my baby’s shirt. The cause — I did not secure the vent properly.

Ninety percent of the milk had gone to waste. It was a disaster. No one wants a cranky, hungry baby. :'(

The vent, which was supposed to provide more security, became my enemy. It also creates a tight vacuum inside the bottle, forcing you to use all your might when you open it for washing.

Apart from the vent, it’s actually a good bottle with a soft teat.

9. Take it day by day
Twenty days and counting, let’s do this Moms!

 

 

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