Aw, the joys of pumping. Not exactly. I have yet to hear any breastfeeding mother say, “I love pumping.” In fact, it is the bane of my existence. Despite this, it does provide my baby with nourishment (from me) in my absence, and that fact I do appreciate. The first time I took my pump out of the box and tried it on I was scared. I didn’t know what to expect, if I was doing it right, or what it should all look like. I turned to YouTube for some support, and believe it or not, there are lots of women out there with tutorials on how to pump! What I should have done was have a friend who already knew about pumping show me. Turns out I was doing it right: it often takes awhile before you can pump out much milk when you first begin. And, as I say to so many people, pumping is not nearly as efficient as your baby at obtaining milk.
I then signed up for a class all about pumping at a local parent resource center. Best thing I ever did. The lactation consultant teaching the class gave some of the best tips and advice about pumping. For instance, those who have to pump more than once at work, and do so with limited time (like us teachers who pump at recess!), should—if possible—purchase more than one set of pump parts so you don’t have to worry about spending time washing them. With an extra set, you can start your next pump session off with fresh and clean supplies. Or, the consultant discussed how it is important not to place freshly pumped milk in the freezer right next to the already frozen bags of milk: the warmth of the new milk that touches the already frozen supply slightly decreases its temperature, which is a no-no for storing milk long term. So I set up a system of putting the freshly pumped bags of milk (but pump into the bottle first and then pour your milk into the bag for an accurate measure of how many ounces of milk you expressed) in the freezer, next to a large insulated lunch bag. Then inside this lunch bag was the frozen milk. When I put new milk into the freezer next time I would then move the previous bags into the lunch bag, therefore avoiding any non-frozen milk touching frozen milk. You may ask why the insulated lunch bag? Well, once, very early on, the freezer did not get closed completely, thawing a few bags of my precious liquid gold. So in case this ever did happen again I wanted extra protection! Medela also has really neat steam-cleaning sanitizing microwave bags to use with your pump parts after you wash them. They are very handy for home and work. Each bag gets about 20 uses, and there are even little check boxes on it for keeping track of each use.
I do love Medela, they do so much for women and breastfeeding. If I had tried to pump at work during my Mom’s generation it just wouldn’t have happened. Pumps back then were so much less advanced, so I feel fortunate. Even though I complain about pumping, I have the ability to do it and provide my daughter with milk direct from me, even when I can’t be there to give it to her. One new mom also gave me some good advice I often pass along: if this is your first time breastfeeding, you may want to wait on opening your pump from its box before you know breastfeeding is well-established. Reason being, if for some reason you can’t breastfeed, and therefore won’t be pumping, you cannot return an opened pump, and pumps are not inexpensive. Instead, rent one from the hospital first, have a lactation consultant show you how to use it, and then a week or so later, if all goes well, go purchase yours or open your box. I might also add, even though you wouldn’t expect people to purchase a pump for you from your registry: put it on there anyway. Who knows, and you usually get a completion discount at many stores, so saving a small percent, off a large purchase, is a nice discount. I also suggest talking to other moms who pump about what model they have and what they think about it. I really liked the maneuverability my pump offered, as it was small and could be hooked onto my pocket so I could move about if necessary, or if I needed to pump in my car, which yes, on a rare occasion I had to do. This flexibility did come with a pretty price tag, but that’s what discounts and gift cards are for, right? : ) Now that I am back to pumping on the days I am at work, I look forward to the recesses I won’t be hooked up to my “udder machine” (as it feels like), however I don’t want Jolie’s first year to go by too fast. They are only this young once, right?