Here is our “classic” breastfeeding photo at approx. 2 hours old. It is bittersweet to look at but I feel so accomplished thinking about how far we have come.
Reality is it just didn’t work. Instead of dwelling on the situation I decided to embrace it. We even tried a lactation expert but truth be told my babe just wasn’t into it. Why? I have no idea; I mean who isn’t into boobies. JK.
So I was left with one of two options: exclusively pump or formula feed. Now I am a believer about the benefits of breast milk and I have a great supply so I thought I would give exclusively pumping (EPing) a go.
Unfortunately society is all about breastfeeding and really doesn’t talk or educate moms on pumping. This was all research, I compiled as I went along and to be honest I am still learning. It makes me sad that pumping isn’t as easily accepted as breast-feeding when they are so similar.
Things I have learned in 3 months of “Eping”
- Even though I am feeding my baby from a bottle, people often assume it is formula and I have to explain my situation and choices. Annoying!
- Invest in a high-end pump! I love my Medela (brand) pump in style (product). Medela also has amazing customer service, which I value as well, and warranty.
- EPing is a commitment.; you need to pump often to keep your supply up. By “often” I mean around the clock and throughout the night as well. Ideally every 3 to 4 hours. Your pumping schedule should mimic your baby’s feeding schedule not less.
- Time commitment; approx. 15-20 mins per pump session and if you aim for 7 sessions you’re investing 140 mins or 2 hour and 30 mins a day. Also double pumping is a necessity and actually helps your supply. If you don’t double pump all these numbers double and I am not sure how that works. Also if you invest in a good hands free pumping bra, you can use the pumping time as relax time for mom, which also helps with supply. I try to read or eat while I am pumping. If baby is awake I put her in her bouncy chair or on her activity matt so I can pump and if I need to feed her at the same time with the bottle I can.
- You have to factor in still feeding your baby and cleaning all your pump parts and bottles…. Eeeek. I was cleaning everything after every pump, which was super time consuming. If you buy a second set it can save time but be quite costly. So according to Kelly Moms I found a trick to keep your horns and pump parts/bottle in the fridge between feedings and wash at the end of the night. You can store breast milk safely in the fridge for 4 or more days. Once I started this trick I saved lots of time. Super handy.
- More suction doesn’t necessarily mean faster only means you might rip your nipples off. I actually use the lowest setting on my Medela pump in style and I find it works well enough. On my portable spectra pump I use a higher setting but that is simply because it isn’t as strong as my other pump. Find a setting that works for you!
- Lube Lube Lube! Honestly I pumped without it before but once I started using coconut oil on my nipples it really helped with friction. You can use lansinoh cream as well but I like that coconut oil is all natural, antibacterial, anti fungal and has a host of other amazing benefits. It is also cheap! Make sure your flanges are the right size as well.
- Finding a bottle that works for your baby. This can be a challenge. We tried approx. 6 different types of bottles with Brooke before we landed on the Life Factory bottles they are similar to Dr. Browns just with fewer parts to clean. I like the fact that they are glass with a silicon sleeve and can easily be put in the dishwasher.
- Looking after Mom; this is super important and a necessity for supply. Eping moms need to drink, eat and sleep well to keep your supple going. Also stress is a supply killer. I know all these things are easier said then done especially in the first 3 months. But remember it is just a season and if you follow these tips Eping does get easier.
- Supplements can be expensive but I feel like it is still cheaper than formula feeding. Consult with your doctor before taking anything. My Basic Routine consists of: pre-natal supplement, vitamin c, omega 3,6,9, vitamin d, vitamin b-12, iron and a probiotic. My pumping vitamins include: a lactation supplement and tea. I have tried a few options; fenugreek and blessed thistle are amazing for increasing your supple however I found caused gas in babe and myself. I tried Legendary Milk and like their Liquid Gold supplement the only downside is you have to take 2 pills 3 times a day. This also means that the bottle only lasts ½ a month however I personally found that taking 1 pill was enough for me. You just have to find what is right for you.
- Keeping track of your supply and feeling productive; I found an app that I absolutely LOVE! It was designed and developed by a husband and wife team. Pump Log has lots of settings, which you can customize to work for you. I like that you can log; when you pump and for how long. Also you are able to input how much you pump and whether it is stored in the fridge or freezer. Also you can tell the app how long you want to pump for and how many oz. your baby consumes and it will track how many more oz. you need to meet your goal based on current and freezer stock. There is a free trial for this app and the full version costs $9.99, hich I highly recommend. As soon as I started this app I could visually see just how many oz. I was pumping and freezing and I felt sooo productive.
- Find a mom tribe to support you on your journey! Honestly out of all my friends they all breast feed however, they are so supportive of my pumping. Sometimes we talk on the phone while I pump or we have pumping coffee dates. I just appreciate all their support. This was actually a photo I sent my mom friend from my first pump! It was solo refreshing to celebrate this small victory together.
This is my first baby and I am a stay at home parent so right now pumping works for me. I also have a super supportive spouse who helps with Brooke when I am pumping in the night or comes and just chats with me. I am not sure if this will work with baby number 2 but each baby is different. The next baby I might be able to breastfeed or maybe we will formula feed, who knows. Right now is all I can worry about. Right now I know what I am doing the best for Brooke! Brooke is growing strong and is happy and that is what is most important.
Please feel free to leave your comments below or ask any questions. I hope this post helps other momma’s as well.