This blog post shares details of my exclusive pumping journey. Other details of our pregnancy, home birth and postpartum journey will be covered in later blog posts. You can find all the topics I’ll be sharing about here.
Piggy-backing off my previous post, My Breastfeeding Story + Exclusive Pumping Tips, I want to share what helped me boost my milk supply after Andrew’s NICU stay and build a freezer stock of hundreds of ounces of breastmilk. The tips below are what helped me in my exclusive pumping journey, but this list shouldn’t be taken in place of the expert opinion of a lactation consultant. I just want to share some things I’ve learned that may be helpful for other exclusive pumping moms out there.
- Establish a pumping schedule and stick to it. For exclusive pumpers, a consistent pumping schedule is so important. Your body will regulate your supply based on how often (or not) you’re pumping. Pumping — just like nursing — signals our bodies “Hey, this baby is eating X times per day, so we need to produce X amount of milk each day.” It’s all about supply and demand. When I was working to establish a solid milk supply during the newborn phase, I pumped six times per day. I kept that up until Andrew was roughly 5-6 months old. Now that my supply is well established I’m able pump just four times per day and still get the same amount (about 30 ounces per day, which is about how much breastmilk Andrew eats per day).
- … but if you can’t stick to your schedule to a ‘T’ every single day, don’t stress! During all the holiday madness and running around, I got a bit out of my pumping routine. There were a few days I was only able to pump three times per day rather than my usual four times. Our lactation consultant told me that over time (usually after a week) you may see a dip in supply if you continue to pump less throughout the day, but just two or three days out of your routine shouldn’t hurt your supply (at least in my experience). Don’t stress if one day out of the week throws your routine for a loop. Hop back on it the next day.
- If you do see a dip in your supply, power pumping may help. Power pumping entails pumping for 10 minutes then resting for 10 minutes. You do this for a total of 1 hour. This tricks your body into thinking “This baby is eating more than what we’re producing! We need to produce more milk.” Google ‘power pumping’ for a more detailed explanation.
- Pump in the early morning hours. I learned that the early morning hours are when milk making hormones are at their height and pumping during those wee hours (1-6 a.m.) can help increase your supply.
- Drink tons of water. It may sound like common sense, but you can’t pump out what you don’t put in. I found that buying a large inexpensive tumbler with a straw made it easiest for me to stay on top of my water intake.
- The power of brewer’s yeast powder. I often put this in my yogurt and oatmeal and feel that it has helped increase my supply. I like the brand Mommy Knows Best.
- Mother’s Milk lactation tea. This tea blend helps promote milk production. If you don’t like the taste of licorice I would look into other lactation teas.
- Meet with a lactation consultant. Our bodies are all different and no two breastfeeding mothers have the same experience. If you aren’t seeing a steady increase in supply over time (or even if you are), meeting with an IBCLC could be a great source of information and encouragement for you, especially if you suspect you are a low supplier. A lactation consultant may prevent you from throwing in the towel altogether with breastfeeding and can help create a personalized plan specific to your and your baby’s needs, and your breastfeeding goals.
If you’re an exclusive pumper and have some other great tips I didn’t mention above, I’d love to hear from you! We’re nearly eight months in and still going strong, and I’m always up for learning new tips from other moms! Comment below or send me an email!
Happy pumping! 🙂
The fifth post in this pregnancy, birth and postpartum blog series: Why home birth? My “why” to have a natural home birth, and why it might be a good option for you too!
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