Your Breastfeeding Journey Matters
Most women have the desire to breastfeed, but it doesn’t always play out in the way that you want. There are times the baby won’t latch right, or the baby can be born sick and have to be fed through a feeding tube. Just because a baby won’t latch or is tube fed, doesn’t mean you have to turn to formula and give up your desire to breastfeed. With time, dedication, and most importantly, perseverance, - pumping can work as well as feeding directly from the breast.
The most important thing to do is to pump every 2 hours. It may seem excessive, but you would be breastfeeding every 2 hours, it’s important to stimulate milk just as often so you’re able to pump as much as you would feed. This is especially important during the first several weeks after birth when the milk supply is starting to come in.
When you start to feel the letdown, pump all the way through. A lot of women have two let downs so pump through both letdowns and a few extra minutes. It’s very important to empty your breast as much as possible every time. The more you pump, the more you produce, but if you leave some milk, it will send the message that you’re producing too much and that will cause your body to start slowing production.
When you’re starting out, sit or lay down in a comfortable location where you can have the privacy you need. Pumping and nursing are two different things and you will likely have to take your breasts out to pump where with nursing, you can keep your breast covered with the baby's head.
Once you’re comfortable and in a private area, put the pump up to either one breast or both, depending on which type of pump you have, and turn it on to a lower suction. You never want to use the highest setting - too much suction will hurt, and you won’t be able to relax.
You should feel a tingling sensation after a couple of minutes - that’s the letdown. Once let down begins, you will get at least an ounce per side (ideally). Make sure you pump until you stop dripping through both let downs.
Take care of yourself.
If you can’t relax, are uncomfortable or feel stressed, you won’t produce as much as you could if you were comfortable and relaxed.
Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t fully supplement.
Babies need to go up as they get bigger and sometimes pumping alone can’t raise your supply.
Try holding the baby to breast or provide kangaroo care if you are starting to dry up.
Sometimes just holding a baby near your breast will make you fill-up.
- Staying hydrated and eating healthy benefits both you and baby.
Anything you eat or drink will go into your breastmilk, plus, dehydration can keep you from producing enough milk.
The only way to really build your supply up and prevent drying completely up is to fully empty your breast during each pumping session and pumping every 2-3 hours with one 4-5 hour session at night. Don’t sleep longer than 5 hours in the beginning without pumping, the longer you go, the more likely you’ll dry up.
Breastfeeding Essentials1. Breast Pump
When you’re getting ready to start pumping, you have the option of renting a pump. Sometimes the NICU will allow you to rent, if you’re on WIC you should be able to get a breast pump from them and if you can, you can go to stores like Walmart or similar and buy one directly.
The benefit of buying is that no one has used it in the past. You also can reuse it if you have another baby and need to pump for any reason.
Renting typically is either free or low cost and you give it back after you’re done so you don’t have the pump laying around collecting dust.2. Milk Bottles and Storage for Expressed Milk
Besides a good pump (that fits properly because if they are too loose or tight, it won’t pump properly and will be painful- pumping should not be painful), you also need storage, a place to store (freezing lasts about 6-12 months while the fridge only lasts about a week). The bottles can be provided by the NICU but also can be bought.
Other things to consider- in case you are out in public and need to pump, you would need one for privacy in case you can’t find a private area.
4. Nursing Pads
If you are engorged or pumping one side at a time, you may start leaking, and some breast pads like these would help absorb the milk and prevent your clothing from being stained.
All the best in your breastfeeding journey, and enjoy the special and intimate bond with your little one in the process!
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Bethany Boggs
Bethany Boggs is a 30 something married mother of 2 kids. When she is not writing or working her day job, you can find her wrangling her 2 girls and 3 cats while sipping cold Starbucks and trying to remember why she walked into the room.