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Monday, October 16, 2006One of the things that makes nursing so much easier than exclusively pumping is the whole "building a supply" issue. With nursing, you effectively nurse "on demand" so the baby makes sure that you end up building a supply. You don't have to think about when the last time you pumped was or remember to pump again the next go round. A baby is also far more effective at "convincing" your breasts to produce milk than a pump, so more people will respond to a nursing baby than a machine.
So, my top tips for building a supply if you have to pump...
1.) Rent a hospital grade pump. No two ways about it, you HAVE to have a hospital grade pump to build a good supply. People have done it with less, but you are starting off with a major handicap. Go ahead and cough up the $30-$50 a month that it costs to rent one and remind yourself that it's less than formula would cost. I reccomend the Medela Lactina Select or the Medela Symphony.
2.) Buy a timer and clip it to your pants. You HAVE to pump on the clock that first month or two. Seriously...if you are scheduled to pump at 2, you HAVE to pump at 2, you can't stretch it to 2:30 or 3pm. There's pretty much NO flexibility in pumping for that first month or two. So, a timer is essential. This way you can set it to give yourself ten minutes of warning so that you have time to settle in with your pump and get going.
3.) Set a schedule that mimics baby. You should start off pumping every two hours, day and night. By the end of the first week, you could likely space it to every 3 hours at night, but leave it at 2 hours during the day. By week three, go ahead and go to every 4 hours at night and every two hours during the day. By week five, you can likely pump just ONCE in the middle of the night, but still every two hours during the day.
When you hit the second month, you can "test" the idea of backing off on the daily pumping sessions. Move them to every 2.5 or three hours. If things are going well, try cutting out the night time pumping session. How well this works depends on a lot of factors...a major one being "luck." By week four, I was able to pump 6 times during the day and none at night and I could get more than enough milk.
Chances are high that pumping on this schedule will produce more milk than your baby needs. This is OK! Because a pump is less effective at establishing supply than a real baby, you pretty much NEED to produce an over-supply. Freeze the extra to donate to a milk bank or to use for baby later on... Whatever you do, don't be tempted to cut back on your pumping because you have "extra." This is a sure-fire killer to your supply. Again, you HAVE to build an over-supply to protect yourself down the road.
4.) Understand that you have to give up some quality time with your baby. This is the HARDEST one, at least for me. Those first two weeks, I rarely got to feed the baby. Timing wise, it takes so long to pump, clean parts and make bottles, that it's hard to be able to feed baby too. That means that a lot of time my husband or mother got to do the feeding while I was off pumping. This sucked royally, but ultimately, it was important enough to me to get breast milk into Elnora that it was a sacrifice I was willing to make. By the second month, things had calmed down enough that I got to do most of the feedings.
Now, these steps might seem over the top to some and WILL be overkill for others...but they will give you the absolute best shot at making a go of pumping.
Labels: Pumping Milk