When my second son was born, I assumed I would breastfeed like I did with my first. But I quickly realized that breastfeeding him was more of a challenge. Most of the time, was nearly impossible. So I pumped. I offered him a bottle. And he happily took big long gulps of breast milk. At that point, I began look into what I might need for exclusive pumping – and if it was even possible to exclusively pump for over a year.
While I came to terms with the possibility that he might NEVER breastfeed, I also got busy looking for a pediatric dentist. This is because a tongue tie is often responsible for painful or challenged breastfeeding. According to Dr. Bobby Ghaheri, with a tongue tie –
the tongue cannot elevate, cupping can be quite weak and the baby can “fall” off the breast…This is how the baby draws milk out of the breast – the baby will push their tongue up towards the palate and then quickly depress it, creating a vacuum.
I also reached out for advice on exclusive pumping.
The support and feedback was so solid that I thought wanted to bring it all together in one place. All of the gear and tips listed here are from mamas who shared what they’ve learned by being in the trenches.
Tips From Mamas On Exclusive Pumping
- Sometimes, putting baby to breast will help continue or reintroduce breastfeeding.
- Pump every 3 hours, 8 – 12 times a day. Do this for at least 12 weeks to establish your supply of breast milk.
- Have at least one pumping session between 1 – 5 am when levels of prolactin are the highest.
- Do breast massage before or while pumping.
- Store pump parts in a large baggie in the fridge and wash once a day.
- Keep an extra set of pump parts.
- Check with 1Natural Way or Aeroflow and see if your insurance will cover a free double electric breast pump.
- If you need to, use herbs to keep milk supply up (see below for herbs recommended by mamas).
- Burp your baby. Halfway through a feeding and afterwards. Fussiness during a feeding may be a sign that it’s time for your baby to burp.
- Practice paced bottle feeding so that you don’t overfeed baby. Video here:
Gear For Exclusive Pumping
Two pumps and a strong vacuum – the Medela PISA is loved by many. There’s now a battery pack included with the pump, making it easier to pump outside of the house. Check with 1Natural Way and see if your insurance will cover a free breast pump.
The Medela Freestyle is portable, lightweight, and comes with a rechargeable battery. It’s the same high-powered quality that you would expect from Medela. Note that it the suction may be a little weaker than the Medela PISA. Also, check with 1Natural Way and see if your insurance will cover a free Medela breast pump.
Quiet and comfortable, the Spectra S2 is extremely popular and some mamas prefer it over Medela PISA. It’s a “closed system” pump, which means breast milk doesn’t flow through the tubing and it’s more hygienic. That said, the Spectra S2 doesn’t come with a battery and it’s not 100% travel friendly. Check with Aeroflow and see if your insurance covers a free Spectra S2 breast pump.
Flanges + Accessories
PUMPIN’ PAL FLANGES
Pumpin’ Pal Flanges point down – instead of up. This makes expressing milk easier on you while increasing the amount of milk you get with each pump.
BLUE AVOCADO STORAGE BAG
Rather than wash pump parts day after day, several times a day – the easiest thing to do is store pump parts in the fridge and wash them once at the end of the day. What’s (almost) better than stored pump parts? A reusable + washable bag that’s friendly to the environment.
Both a bra and hands-free support while you pump. This means you don’t have to change into a special bustier just to pump. The Dairy Fairy Arden is convenient for mamas on the go or who pump at work.
Not a bra. But Simple Wishes gives maximum support for hands-free pumping.
Bottles + Accessories
The Comotomo is designed to mimic the breast. Its soft, breathable nipple helps to protect against colic. The body of the bottle is also made of silicone – rather than glass or plastic. This makes it squeezable for baby and safe to handle. Another plus: the wide mouth of the Comotomo means it’s easier to clean.
SILCONE BABY FOOD TRAY
You could definitely store frozen milk in specially designed bags. Or you do as one mama suggested – freeze it in baby food trays, pop ’em out, and store the milk in a freezer bag.
For storing frozen cubes of milk. Using a silicone baggie like Stasher minimizes waste – always a good thing!
I had never even considered a separate freezer until one mama recommended it. But it looks like a lot of pumpin’ mamas use the Midea freezer to store breast milk. This one is compact enough to sit on the countertop while still holding plenty of “liquid gold.”
An herbal company recommended by many mamas! Euphoric Herbals offer a few formulas to support the production of breast milk – both Milk Machine and Lush Leche contain superfoods like spirulina and moringa.
MOTHER’S MILK TEA
Mother’s Milk Tea is one that I used for years with my first baby to keep supply up. This tea is super convenient because you can pick it up at the grocery store and it really works.
Moringa – or malunggay – is a superfood that’s high in trace minerals and some vitamins to support mama’s overall health. Traditionally, it’s used to increase the production of breast milk and many mamas notice a difference when taking it.
MOTHERLOVE NIPPLE CREAM
Whether you’re nursing a baby with a tongue tie or just want to show your nipples some extra love, this is the stuff to use. Healing happens almost immediately and Motherlove’s Nipple Cream the sort of thing that works when nothing else will.
There are a lot of mamas out there documenting their journey and offering support. This kind of community is invaluable. Here are a few Instagram accounts and websites that I’ve run across – please feel free to leave more resources in the comments!