Breastfeeding is hard. Exclusively pumping brings its own set of challenges on top of that. After a break for mental health reasons, I was an exclusive pumper for a year and built a freezer stash to last a few months longer. Pumping never stops... it included at home, in the car and even at work.
I had a rocky start to breastfeeding, including a panic attack in the hospital. Postpartum depression and anxiety... that's a story for a different time.
But for now, these are the things that helped me be successful.
I had NO clue these things even existed until several weeks in my EP'ing journey. I stumbled upon this instagram account (@BeMyBreastFriend) for exclusive pumpers and it was my saving grace. I learned SO MUCH and it made me feel so much more confident about my progress. She just had her fourth baby and exclusively pumped for twins several years ago. That's gotta be an extreme sport, right?
Before I got these, I truly felt like I was just one of those women that doesn't produce milk. I was sad, but accepting. This was one of my last stitch efforts to make it work.
The vibration and heat from these little pads helps move the milk and prevent clogs. I did get mastitis once and several clogs, these helped get relief. They seem a bit pricey, but for me, they were totally worth it.
Admittedly, I went for the cheapest version I could find. They worked, usually. However, they didn't compare to a real, wall-bound pump. Next pregnancy I fully plan to save up and invest in the Elvie pump, ($500+ geeesh) after hearing reviews. My biggest complaint... these things are awful to clean. Oh, and this version is not quiet, don't let the product description fool you.
My son was and is very clingy. After he outgrew his bouncer, it was nearly impossible to get through a pumping session. The hands-free pump allowed me to do dishes, walk the dogs, or even do laundry while I pumped, too.
3. A good cooler and ice packs
I needed a cooler that was big enough for pump parts, full bottles, and ice packs. I used a giant lunchbox type cooler. It worked well. Plus, this...
Plus, a small cooler for the diaper bag. Luckily, my son always drinks his bottles cold so warming them up wasn't a concern. This little cooler fits two bottles and a small ice pack. If you plan to be an exclusive pumper, introduce cold milk early. Some babies truly don't mind it! I searched for awhile to see if there was a benefit to warming the milk versus serving it cold, I never did find anything. So, my son has always drank his bottles straight from the fridge. This is especially helpful at like 2am, right?
4. Giant mason jars & pour spout with handle
I am team pitcher method when it comes to pumping. It saves soo many dishes. I operated with two... one for cool milk and one for fresh milk. After the fresh milk cooled down, I would pour it into the cool milk jar. It almost makes it easier, in my opinion, to track how much you can freeze.
I hate pumping bras. All of them. For the last several months of pumping I didn't even wear one, I would literally just hold the flanges. BUT.... if I did wear one, this was the LEAST uncomfortable. It's from target so it was nice I could grab it in person.
I've heard a lot of great reviews about Kindred Bravely bras, but I hated them. Very clunky and itchy.
6. Avent bottles are compatible with Spectra flanges
I don't know why it took me so long to learn this.... but avent bottles with screw right onto Spectra flanges. For weeks, I was using spectra bottles, dumping the milk into como tomo bottles, then washing the spectra bottles 6+ times a day. That many dishes will burn anyone out. Moral of the story, find the bottle that is compatible with your pump of choice and fingers crossed your baby likes it too!
Nothing too special about these milk freezer bags, they are just cheaper than other brands and just as durable.
Ultimately, I learned SO MUCH from Instagram! Social media has its benefits, I promise
Must follow accounts!
What products helped you?
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