11.05.2014

12 Pumping Tips to Make Your Life Easier

I can't believe how quickly time is passing. With my son time was slow yet quick like that saying, "the days are long but the years are short". I feel like now, with two little ones, the days and years are short! Before I know it my baby girl will turn one. One is a big deal... it is a time to celebrate baby's first year of life but to also, as a parent, celebrate making it through the first year. That first year... oh man... it's so rough. The sleepless nights, growth spurts, colic, teething, gas, sleep training, solid foods, baby-proofing, and just figuring out life with a new one- like arriving late 90% of the time!

For me, with baby #2, I have a goal to breastfeed through the first year. I stopped at four months with my son for a bunch of reasons and I always felt a little guilty for it so this time it's a priority to make it work. I will say after four months it's actually pretty easy! But those first four months are brutal. I stay home with my kids so I nurse often but I still pump occasionally and bottle feed for a couple reasons: 1) My baby is comfortable taking a bottle, 2) I have a supply to feel like I can go on date night or even on a short trip without my baby (that's for my own sanity), and 3) To understand how much I produce at various times of the day which helps me better prepare bottles for her when she is with a sitter. That being said I have a love/hate relationship with my pump. It's not fun and it is getting old at eight months but I am still committed and these help me! They make my life easier to make this first-year-breastfeeding goal a reality.


Here are my 12 Pumping Tips to Make Your Life Easier:

1. Building a Freezer Supply: The best time to pump to build a freezer supply is in the middle of the night and in the morning. You make the most milk at these times which means more bang (milk) for your buck (time). If you pump at no other time then these you can still set aside a good supply. When my daughter started sleeping through the night at about 7 weeks I continued to get up at 2am to pump for 4-5 more weeks. I know, I sound like a crazy person! But I was determined and I was getting 5-7oz to freeze at each of these pumping sessions. Multiply that by about 30 days and that gets you 150-210oz! That is a freezer stash to be proud of! Honestly, looking back, it wasn't so bad. I had everything setup before I went to bed, set my alarm, it went off, I hooked up, closed my eyes (to avoid waking too much from the light), and knocked it out. I also usually didn't run it to the fridge because I would be up in 3 hours. Milk can sit out for 4 hours at room temperature. It was a pretty good system.

The other time to pump is when baby only nurses on one side. You can pump the other side and save the milk. This also helps to not feel so lopsided too. ;) I have chunky babies who take both sides EVERY time. Talk about exhausting!

2. Buy Lots of Bottles: I have a large collection and sometimes I still don't feel like it is enough. I have four 8oz bottles, six 5oz bottles, four 4oz bottles, and I used Snappies (2oz) for the first month too. I have three sets of flanges/connectors and two sets tubing. It saves me from having to wash parts constantly.

3. Use Pump Freezer Bags: If you know you are going to freeze it, like with my nighttime pumpings, just use a freezer bag! These bags hook directly to your pump using a connector. It's pretty handy to not have to wash a bottle. I have a Medela pump and the Medela bags attach using the connectors. I saved my connectors and found Honeysuckle bags that hook to the same connectors but freeze flat better than the Medela ones. If I am not hooking them up directly to the pump then I really like Lansinoh bags because they freeze flat as well. Wait what's that and why? Keep reading...


4. Freeze Flat: If you are building a supply you need to have freezer space! We have our freezer in our kitchen and one attached to our garage fridge. Space is tight to say the least. I have found that milk is much easier to store if you freeze them laying flat. I lay my bags of milk flat on a box in the freezer, once frozen I can organize them with the rest.


^^^ That Smart Ones is expired because I stopped eating them 3 years ago but I keep it in the freezer to freeze my milk bags flat. :)

5. Setup An Organization System: I freeze milk overnight in our kitchen freezer then I move the frozen bags to the garage freezer. The newest bags go in the back and when I need milk to thaw I gran from the front. I use soda boxes because they fit fine in them but here are some other options: Gift bag, container, deep freezer bags.


6. Calendar Reminder: I don't know about you but I have a hard time remembering things... my mom brain is totally shot! I got in this habit of forgetting to put my milk from the fridge into the freezer and was dumping too much because it had spoiled. I put a reminder in my calendar for Monday and Thursday evenings to put milk into freezer bags. This ensures I won't forget and have to waste milk.

7. Smell Test: Speaking of spoiled milk... I have found that if the milk is spoiled it smells. It is a very distinct smell so you will know instantly! Do yourself a favor and put an ounce of milk in the fridge. Smell it every day and I am willing to bet that by the seventh or eighth day you will get that smell. I am not normally in the business of recommending letting milk go to waste but this little experiment will give you peace of mind later when you are doing the smell test. Before I freeze any milk it has to pass the Smell Test! Another note about this test is that it works on alcohol too. One evening my hubby and I went out for date and we had a good time, a REALLY GOOD time. I had many too many drinks. The kids were with grandma so we weren't on a time crunch to get home and relieve the sitter. I pumped when I got home because I missed a session while out and didn't want to wake up in pain. I guess I was just in the habit of putting the bottle of milk in the fridge so the next day it was mixed in with the others. I was afraid I would have to dump all of them because I didn't know which one it was. I opened them and smelled each one and I can tell you the one from that evening of drinking was more than noticeable it was like smelling alcohol breath the next day. So now you know... if you drink too much you will be able to tell using the Smell Test!

8. Flanges as a Bag/Bottle Funnel: This is one I was excited about when it came to me. I have some 24mm flanges that came with my pump but I use a different size. Instead of throwing them out I use them as a funnel to fill my freezer bags. This helps to avoid spilling and from getting milk in the lock system that closes the bag. The problem with milk in the lock system is that milk expands when frozen and can cause leaks later. The nice thing is that you can use the flange when you have thawed milk in a freezer bag that you want to pour into a bottle. This makes it much much easier and no spills! I use a glass as well When I am pouring milk into the bags. They don't stand up while you are pouring and can flop over if you aren't careful so the glass helps to keep the bag in place.


9. Baggie to Thaw: One time I put a bag of frozen milk in the fridge to thaw for the next day. When I came back in the morning I found a big milk mess in the fridge because of a small leak in the bag. Now anytime I plan to thaw milk I put it in a baggie so that if it does have a leak I am not cleaning out the fridge and I can usually just pour the excess in the bottle! Double win!


10. Steam Bag and Wipes: I have a couple Nuk steam bags and I have Medela wipes to clean my breast pump parts on the go and when traveling. I have found that a good rinse does wonders but the wipes help to avoid that "fog" that appears from breast milk if not washed after each use. I use them to make sure the milk doesn't dry to the parts. I keep these items in my pump bag at all times! I also use the steam bags at home for quick steams every once in awhile. I do not boil bottles or parts.

11. Wetness in Tubing: You may start to notice condensation and wetness inside your tubing. It can cause mold growth so when I finish pumping I turn the pump off, disconnect the bottles/connectors from the tubes, and then turn the pump back on with only the tubes connected. I leave it run while I rinse my parts and cap the bottles. The air from the pump will dry up the condensation.

12. Nursing Cover: I have a nursing cover that I made that does not have boning in the top (which is normally used to help see your baby while nursing). I use that all the time for pumping in the car or in other places where you prefer to be concealed... like on a plane, scrunched in those little seats! Keep something simple like that with you so you don't fret when it comes time to pumping.


Sorry for the long post... I hope it is useful! Let me know if you have any tips to share because I am always looking for ways to be more efficient and successful. I would love to hear from you!

<-Kassy->

8 comments:

  1. #11...this is pure genius! Every time I pump I look at that condensation build up and think I have got to do something about this! Its sitting next to me so I turned it on as soon as I read that and sure enough the build up is gone! Luckily it hasn't been there long so I'm not concerned about mold and thanks to your tip I wont have to!

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    1. I'm glad it helped! That tip actually came from my husband... he read the manual and tips online and taught me how to use the pump. I was too dead tired to learn anything new on my own! :)

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    2. I'm glad it helped! That tip actually came from my husband... he read the manual and tips online and taught me how to use the pump. I was too dead tired to learn anything new on my own! :)

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  2. Love numbers 8 and 9. Thanks for the great post.

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  3. Great post! Thanks for sharing the tips! #7 worries me though...people should not rely on smelling to see if there is alchohol in thier breastmilk. What if they just CAN'T smell it? It could depend on a lot of factors!

    Running the pump to get the air out... ugh I could just smack my head right now...Like duh!!! Thanks for all tips again!

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  4. Great post ! The idea could help me and others breastfeeding women out there 👍

    Thanks for sharing 😁

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