5 Secrets to Breast Pump Success
Having been through this a couple of times now, I've learned several things that are the opposite of everything I read about successfully giving a baby breast milk without the breast. Here's the advice that no one gave me.
Learn from Experience
A “better” pump is not always preferable.
The first time I pumped was a few days after my first daughter was born. She had been readmitted into the hospital for jaundice, and I didn’t want her getting formula. But the nurses in the NICU got all twitchy when I took her out from under the bilirubin-busting ultraviolet lights, so they told me to pump instead. I holed up in what I remember as a broom closet and attached my breasts to a hospital-grade pump. After 20 minutes, I had maybe half an ounce, and sore nipples.
Later, as I was researching breast-pumps to buy, I learned that hospital-grade pumps were the most effective type. I was horrified. Hoping for the best, I bought a luggable electric pump—the strongest one you can buy at the baby-supply store. And you know what? It was fine; it was plenty. Patience, experience (and loads of fluids) are much more important than the kind of pump you use. You know what else? To this day, I still use a cheap-o little hand pump for my first pumping session of the day. It’s quiet, I’m in control, and it’s just so nice to be unplugged.
You’ll have to learn everything again with No. 2.
Although I worried about pumping with my older daughter, when Leah was born, I didn’t give it a second thought. I figured, I worked it out last time, so it’ll be no problem this time. But … no. It took several weeks before my body adjusted and I was able to settle into a reliable routine. Even then, though, I was only able to get about two-thirds of what I needed, so I had to add an extra daily session while Baby was home. What’s more, I was consistently getting a half-ounce less milk on one side than the other—something I was certain hadn’t been the case before.
Strange, right? Wrong. My husband insists that both things were true the last time as well; I’d just forgotten. I tend to believe him. Like so much of babyhood, pumping breast-milk is all a blur. So pour yourself a glass of water, sit back, and relax. It will be over before you know it.
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