Even if a baby cannot be at the breast for whatever reason, there is another option. A growing number of moms today are pumping their milk for their babies. Thanks to technology, modern moms have more options than ever for feeding their babies.
Pumping takes commitment and it’s not always easy. So here are a few tips for those choosing to pump.
- Invest in a good pump. This is a must. A cheap handheld pump can be helpful and effective in a pinch, and it can’t hurt to have one as an emergency to go. However, if you are planning to pump on a regular basis for your baby, you would do well to be using a good one. Electric pumps (especially double pumps) are very effective, comfortable to use, and worth the cost. They are also being made to look quite stylish these days, so you don’t need to worry about being embarrassed carrying it around.
- Make sure your shield is the correct fit. Many do not know that the shield that comes with the pump is not your only option. Nipple sizes vary from woman to woman and if your pump is not a proper fit you can get a new one. Talk to a lactation specialist about how to get the right fit for you. This just may save your breastfeeding relationship, or your ability to pump.
- Start early if possible. If you know you are going to be pumping, start making a habit of it as soon as you can after birth. This establishes pumping as a part of your routine and rhythm. If, however, it becomes apparent that you will need to pump long after giving birth, you can still get started pumping at any time and be successful at it.
- Become well versed on proper storage for breastmilk. Breastmilk storage requires simple but deliberate storage instructions. Click here to read about safe storage and handling instructions.
- Find your own rhythm. Moms who have pumped for their babies are usually glad to share their stories about what worked for them, and how they got into a schedule. It’s so important to have a community of support, but understand that each situation is unique. What worked for someone else may not work in your situation, so it’s important to find your groove and test what is going to work.
- Have an open conversation with your employer. If you are pumping because you are returning to work, it’s important to discuss your situation with your employer. Be honest about the time you are going to need. If you are hoping to pump full time for a 6 week old baby, you are going to need more than one ten minute break a day to pump. You’ll probably need several that are a minimum of 15 minutes each. Remind your employer that the longer you pump, the less time you’ll need for breaks. As your baby grows and your body adjusts to pumping, you won’t need as much time to pump. Know your rights as a breastfeeding mother who is working.
Breastfeeding is hard work. Pumping takes the breastfeeding commitment to the next level. Know that you are not alone, and that you are giving your baby an incredible gift. Motherhood is largely a thankless job, and the effort you’re putting in for your baby will pay off in ways you may never fully understand. Good, job, mom. Keep up the good work.