For the last 12.5 months I have been hooked up to a breast pump for several hours a day, whether at home or in the car. I am so thankful I have been blessed with the opportunity to be able to produce enough milk for A & S and be successful but I am also very excited to finally be weaning and not have to stop and pump every few hours.
First, let me start out by saying I'm no breastfeeding/pumping radical and I would never suggest that you're any less of a parent for using formula. I ensure you that formula doesn't make you any less of a mama and you should never have to justify your choice and/or reasoning behind not breastfeeding.
Put simply, I attempted to breastfeed A & S but it was quite difficult since they had been fed through feeding tubes and then fed with bottles while they were in the NICU. The nurses gave me many opportunities to attempt to breastfeed but A & S simply preferred the bottle over the boob. I was okay with this, as my goal of breastfeeding was less about the emotional attachment and more about the health benefits. I continued to try every once in awhile once we got home and S would latch on for a bit, and I think I could have successfully breastfed him, but A was not having it. I was not about to breastfeed one and pump for the other... that is for the birds! Instead, I decided I would exclusively pump for as long as I could. I began pumping in the hospital within a few hours of delivery and I continue to do so 12.5 months later but I'm slowly weaning off and plan to be done by 13.5 months!
Regardless of your views on breastfeeding, I would say breastfeeding and/or pumping is one of the most selfless things a mother can do for her child if she is able to.
Essentials of Exclusively pumping:
- A great pump- I don't think you can really go wrong with a Medela, except the manual which is not realistic if you plan to pump more than once a day. I love my Medela Pump in Style Advanced.
- Car adapter- this thing is a true life saver. I save so much time being able to pump while I am driving. Plus, the babies are in their car seats and usually asleep instead of being upset I'm not holding or playing with them.
- Hands free bra- can you say multi-task?! No baby, especially twins, is going to play independently for a whole pump session for several months! I tried the Medela bustier but I prefer the Simple Wishes, which has a lot more support.
- Nipple cream & pads- miracle in a tube for the first couple of months.
- Storage bags- I tried the medela, nuk, lanolin and Up & Up and Up & Up are my favorite. Just don't fill them more than 6 oz's or they are highly likely to get a hole... trust me, I know from many times of doing so.
- Bottles- that fit your pump and enough for storage and feeding.
- Soap- I used plain Palmolive but any kind is fine. I always soak my pump gear and bottles in hot soapy water before washing them. The tubs from the hospital work great for this!
- Nursing bra- I don't have much advice on this, because I could not find a properly fitted nursing bra. The closest I could get was at Motherhood. Good luck if you have breasts larger than a D.
- Sleep bra- I love Target's Gilligan & O'Malley sleep bras
- 2 sets of breast shields, valves and membranes to fit your pump
- Insulated snack bag(s) and reusable ice cubes to keep milk cold when on the go. My personal preference is the Itzy Ritzy Snack Happens Snack Bags. Convenient, affordable AND cute! When you need a larger supply such as road trips etc. a roomy cooler bag and re-freezable ice block work great!
- Last but certainly not least- a support system. My husband, family and friends have been super supportive. Whether it's helping with the babies while I pump, letting me pump at their house without feeling awkward and just simply being there to say "keep it up", "you're doing awesome", "I'm proud of you"... it's those simple words that keep you going. Exclusively pumping is a lot of work and takes a lot of patience and commitment but I promise you can do it as long as your body allows you to produce milk! Keep it up and know you are AWESOME and your persistence and commitment mean the world to your sweet baby xoxo.
My pumping schedule:
- 1-3 months: every 2 hours, including overnight.
- 3-5 months: every 2 hours and dropped the overnight sessions ((hallelujah))
- 5-12 months: every 3-4 hours
- Since the 12 month mark I have been weaning which has looked something like this:
- Week 1: every 4-5 hours
- Week 2: every 5-6 hours
- Week 3 &4: two sessions a day/ morning & night. I'm not pumping until empty but enough to be comfortable.
Thus far, I haven't had any issues or discomfort by slowly weaning. I was pumping 60+ oz's a day and I'm down to about 24oz's a day. I will be cutting the time in half or eliminating one of my pump sessions soon. In the mean time I'm freezing it all to donate to the Oklahoma Mother's Milk Bank, which is used to nourish critically ill infants. I wish I would have contacted them sooner, as I have thrown away several hundred oz's of milk that went bad before I could use it.
I highly encourage you to contact your local milk bank and see how you can help: https://www.hmbana.org/milk-bank-locations I mean how amazing is it that you can help nourish babies who have no other way to get the awesome nourishment they get from breast milk!?!?
Feel free to ask any questions!