Friday, October 14, 2016

Seven Tips For Exclusively Breast Pumping

Thank you to everyone who commented on yesterday's post about my initial struggles with breastfeeding and my decision to exclusively pump.  I was shocked at how many women have had similar stories!  I wanted to share a few tips that I've found to be helpful throughout this process.  I've learned a lot throughout the last four months, and the key for me is keeping it as convenient as possible.  Here are my seven tips for exclusively pumping:

Tips for Exclusive Breast Pumping

1.  Invest in a good quality pump- I can say with 100% confidence that I wouldn't have made it this far if I didn't have a good pump.  When I found out I was pregnant I went through the process to get a free pump through insurance, and received the Medela Pump In Style.   Around the same time my sister in law offered to let me borrow her Medela Freestyle.  At that point I thought all breast pumps were created equally, but boy was I wrong.   The Freestyle is battery powered (rechargeable batteries) so I'm able to go anywhere with it.  I pump in the car (as a passenger) all the time.  The pump mechanism is small, and even has a belt clip, so that you can pump and move around at the same time.  Before I had Thompson, the thought of using someone else's breast pump really weirded me out.  But after using one, I realized it's basically just the motor that's being reused.  I purchased all new tubing and parts so that anything that actually touches my body and my milk is brand new.   If you don't want to shell out the big bucks for a pump, you can also rent one through the hospital.  The hospital grade pumps are even more powerful, and I've heard great things about them.  If mine ever bites the dust, I'll definitely look into a hospital rental (I think they are around $80 a month). While the free pump I received through insurance isn't the best, I still would advise anyone to go ahead and request one through their insurance company if it's going to be covered at 100%.  It's comforting to know that I have a backup just in case I ever need it.

2.  Buy a hands free pumping bra- After reading tons of reviews, I purchased this bra through Amazon and I've been really pleased with it.   I have the pink but I'd recommend buying the black one.  Even with regular washing, the pink one starts to look a little dingy after a while.  Using this allows me to be totally hands free when I'm pumping, so I'm always able to multitask. Plus, I think the added compression it gives helps me pump more milk.

3.  Get a good nursing cover- I mentioned above that I pump in the car a lot.  If T and I are taking a car trip that's more than 20 minutes, I plan to pump while I'm riding.  It's a great way to save time and make use of that otherwise wasted time in the car.  This stretchy nursing cover makes it so much more discreet, plus it can also be used as a car seat cover and a shopping cart cover, too.  Several different brands make these, but I love that this particular one is Prime Eligible on Amazon.

4. Stay hydrated- I'm pumping anywhere between 30 and 40 ounces of milk a day, which means I'm losing a lot of fluid.  Staying hydrated is the best way to keep milk production up.   I sip on decaffeinated tea, water, and gatorade, and bring a 32 oz tumbler of water with me to bed each night. I prefer a Swell bottle or a Yeti cup so that my water stays ice cold throughout the night.

5.  Purchase reusable breast pads- File this under things no one ever told me about before baby.  I had no clue that wearing breast pads would be an everyday requirement.  These ones on Amazon are leak proof, which is really important for the first few months while you're supply is still regulating.  If you don't get the leak proof ones, you may end up in a situation as depicted by the picture below.  How embarrassing.  I now stick to dark colored and printed tops only.

6.  Buy lots of extra bottles and pump parts- At any given time I usually have 3-4 bottles of milk in the fridge, 3-4 that need washing, and a few clean ones that I can use throughout the day.  I wash bottles and bottle parts once per day, so it's really helpful to have several extras on hand.  We use these because they work with my pump, but really any bottles will do.  

7.  Stock up on extra parts and bottle cleaning/sanitizing supplies- It's a great idea buy an extra set of pump parts, that way you won't have to wash them constantly throughout the day.  Pro Tip- after you use your pump parts they can be stored in the refrigerator until the next use.   This will keep them from growing bacteria, and you don't have to wash them after each use.  I do this throughout the day and wash everything once at night.  I usually sanitize parts every other day, using the Medela Sanitizing Bags. Using these bags is much easier than having to boil everything, just pop it in the bag, microwave for 3 minutes, and it's done.  My favorite bottle brush is the Oxo Tot Bottle Brush.  It's bristles are really soft and flexible, so it doesn't spray all over you when you pull the brush out of the bottle.  That is my biggest pet peeve.  And for feeding bottles, we really like the Dr. Brown's Options bottles.  They are great because you don't have to use the vent if you don't want to.  Less parts to clean if your baby ends up not needing that vent down the road.  If you're looking at buying these, go ahead and buy the 8 oz bottles, rather than the smaller 4 oz ones.  You'll only be able to use those 4 oz ones for feeding for the first couple of months, and then they're useless.  I'd also recommend getting the narrow bottles because they can hook right up to your breast pump, and the Medela caps fit on the top of them.  It's nice being able to interchange the caps and nipples as needed.

If you have any other tips or product suggestions for me, please do share!  I'd love to know what has worked for you.  


  1. I have exclusively pumped for almost a year now, and what has always been the most challenging is keeping my daughter entertained while pumping. When I started feeding her while I pumped, it helped tremendously. I agree with you 100 percent about the importance of a good pump too. I had a bad one at the beginning, and it neatly did me in!

  2. Not a momma (yet) but I can attest to the greatness that is the S'well bottle. I have mine on my bedside table as well.

  3. I am an exclusively pumping momma to twins. It started because I had one NICU baby and one who came home with me. Initially I was nursing the one who came home and then spending time pumping for my son to take to the hospital. After about 3 weeks, I thought I was going to lose my mind because I was spending 30 minutes nursing, 30 minutes pumping and then trying to feed him. I started exclusively pumping every 3 hours initially and then 4. My son has severe reflux so they suggested we try formula for spitters which made a huge difference. But your recommendations are great! I have a hospital pump that I mostly use but I also have a Pump-in-style that I use in the car and sometimes when I am in the kitchen cooking because its easier to move around with than the big hospital pump. The hands free bra has been a life saver! and the simple wishes one is WAAAAY better than the other one I tried. I am about to go back to work from maternity leave so I am wondering how that dynamic will possibly affect my pumping!

  4. What great tips! I'm keeping this for baby #2! One tip I used pumping with baby #1. You can put your parts in a large baggie & keep your parts in the refrigerator all day without needing to sanitize after every use. Just rinse them off before putting them in the refrig & steam the parts at the end of each day. :)

  5. This was so helpful! I'm due with my first in 3 weeks and I'm going into breastfeeding with an open mind that it might not be what's best for us. I had not thought about exclusively pumping if BF doesn't work out, so saving this!! Thank you!


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