The Truth About Pumping
Breast is best is a phrase that comes to mind when questions about feeding your baby arise. However, for many mothers breastfeeding is far more complicated than it may appear. Between difficulty with latching, sucking and nipple soreness, breastfeeding can feel like quite the tall task.
Enter pumping. This alternative option to express breastmilk may seem simple and effortless, but it has its fair share of difficulties as well. One of the biggest concerns with pumping is that there are simply a lot of unanswered questions, so knowing what to expect or what is normal can feel next to impossible.
So, on those days when you inevitably struggle with pumping, the first thing you need to remember is that you are not alone. There are numerous moms who have endured the same nuisances. Take it from a mom whose been pumping for six months, these tips will help you tackle the most common pumping problems.
Problem 1: You’re Not Getting Very Much Milk
Tip: Troubleshoot. First, are you drinking enough water? Be sure to drink water throughout the day and before and during your pumping session. Second, are your flanges the appropriate size? If you flanges are too big or too small, that can inhibit milk flow. If you have discomfort or purple or white nipples after a pumping session, your flanges may not fit properly. Third, check your membranes. Do they need to be replaced? An exclusive pumper should be replacing membranes often (about every 3-4 weeks). These are essential for appropriate suction.
Problem 2: You Have to Miss a Session
Tip: Pumping moms should aim to pump every 2 – 3 hours. Missing sessions can impact supply and can lead to mastitis or clogged ducts, so it’s best to avoid doing so. Set standing calendar appointments for the times you pump, so you don’t schedule appointments during those times. Contact the organizer of a meeting or the doctor’s office ahead of time to figure out pumping accommodations (not a bathroom). If you know you are going to cut it close, pump before and immediately after your appointment. Pumping (just like putting baby to breast) is about supply and demand; the more you pump, the more you make and vice versa. One missed session may not impact your supply, but making it a habit of it will.
Problem 3: Getting a Letdown is Difficult
Tip: Relax. Easier said than done, right? But, it’s important as stress can inhibit your letdown. Bring pictures or videos of your little one to look at while pumping – it can really help trigger your body to produce milk for your baby.
Problem 4: You Don’t Have a Place to Store Your Breast Milk
Tip: Breastmilk can be good at room temperature for several hours in a pinch, but having an option for cooling is a must. Cue an insulated lunch bag, cooler or bottle bag and freezer ice packs. Put the ice packs in the freezer the night before and grab them before you head out for the day. The cooler should keep them and your freshly expressed milk cold for the day.
Problem 5: Your Baby Isn’t a Fan of the Bottle
Tip: Not all bottles are the same and not all babies like one particular bottle. Just because it’s recommended by your mom or sister doesn’t mean your baby will like it. Why not change it up? There are so many different options for bottles and bottle nipples. Be patient and try to find one your baby likes. If that doesn’t work, why not try a slow-flow sippy cup? Again, patience is required, but it could help save you and your baby many tears.
Problem 6: Pumps and Accessories are Pricey
Tip: Check with your insurance before buying a pump. Most insurance plans cover them and will provide you with options to choose from.
Problem 7: You Don’t Know the Basics of Storing
Everyone has a preference, but storage bags take up less space than bottles. When freezing milk in bags, be sure to lay them flat to maximize storage space and follow these breast milk storage guidelines:
· Fresh milk, room temperature: 4 – 8 hours
· Fresh milk, fridge: 3 – 8 days
· Thawed milk, fridge: 24 hours
· Frozen milk, regular freezer: up to 6 months
· Frozen milk, deep freezer: up to 12 months
Here’s the thing ladies, while breastfeeding and pumping may feel like the last thing you want to do most days, you have to remember that it is making a positive difference in your baby’s life. It is preventing infection, providing nutrients and soothing their developing bodies. Every time you choose to pump, you are choosing to help your baby.
Of course, if you find the difficulties of pumping and breastfeeding are becoming too much, let the professionals help. At the Gwinnett Women’s Pavilion, you can receive expert advice from one of our lactation consultants and even rent a breast pump if needed. We want to keep breastfeeding and pumping as stress-free as possible for both you and your baby.