I (almost exclusively) pumped for all three of my little ones. As is true with any way you feed your baby, there were both pros and cons. I loved that my babies were getting the benefits of my breast milk, I liked being able to know exactly how much milk they were getting, and for me, pumping was a lot less painful than nursing (though I had many friends for whom the exact opposite was true). Of course, I was not a fan of the seemingly endless task of washing the pumping parts, bottles and containers.
And there was one drawback that was actually somewhat unexpected, too—feeling under-represented. There was so much data about nursing your baby, from positioning to latching, and more. There was plenty of info about formula feeding (and, in fact, I learned pretty quickly that people are almost always referring to formula when they're describing "bottle feeding"). But what about those of us who feed our babies breast milk without nursing… what about the exclusively pumping bottle-feeding mamas?
Well, it turns out there are quite a lot of us exclusive pumpers out there, including some of my nearest and dearest friends.
Thankfully, I learned enough from my years of pumping to be able to share this pumping must-have list with all the mamas in my life who are now embarking on the pumping journey:
Nothing is more important than the pump itself! The right pump is going to play a huge role in how feasible pumping is for you. It can make all the difference—not only in your physical comfort while pumping, but also in how much milk you produce. For starters, I strongly recommend a double electric breast pump—I mean, who doesn't want to cut their pumping time in half? The Luna, Duo and Twist pump models by Motif Medical are fantastic choices—they are all quiet but powerful, and designed with the very specific needs of pumping mamas in mind.
I honestly cannot pinpoint the reasons why I avoided a lactation consultation initially—that's because whatever reasons those were evaporated from my mind just a couple minutes into my very first consultation. Experts have to log a LOT of hours before they can earn the title of lactation consultant, so when you get a consultation, you are getting tips and advice from someone with an incredible amount of knowledge and experience. I'm fairly certain that I would have abandoned all hope of continuing to pump (and fairly early in the game, at that) were it not for the wisdom, encouragement and advice of my amazing lactation consultant.
As mentioned above, one of the absolute greatest benefits of pumping is that you can tell exactly how much milk your baby is getting. But did you know that you can actually test your milk to find out its nutritional content, too? I so wish that I had known about the Lactation Lab breast milk test kits when I was pumping. The Basic kit tests for the calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat content in your breast milk; the Standard one also tests for additional vitamins and minerals; and the Premium kit even provides data for silicone, platinum and aluminum, if risk factors associated with breast implants or chemotherapy drugs are a concern for you. This is a priceless resource for the modern pumping mama who likes to be informed.
Yet another item in the "Oh, how I wish I'd had that" category! I had the clunkiest, ugliest carrier for my breast pump. Since I was pumping several times per day, that meant I had to drag it around wherever I went. Nothing ruined my cute outfits like my giant, awkward pump carrier. The Motif Medical Breast Pump Backpack is not only durable and practical (well, hello there, water-resistant material), but also super cute and stylish. The reasonable $40 price point makes it especially giftable.
Let's face it—if you're an exclusive pumper like I was, you're spending a whole lot of your day (and night) pumping. The simple truth is that the more comfortable and pleasant your pumping set-up is, the more likely you are to continue with pumping. When I saw the Lumbar Pillow from Sunday Citizen in the Motherly shop, I thought, "Yeah, that pillow would make me want to stay awhile." If I'd had that pillow for lumbar support, for under my knees, for resting my arms, or frankly even just for admiring because it is so lovely and chic, I'm pretty confident that my pumping experience would have been elevated (pun intended). And as bonus, the cover can be tossed in the wash without a problem.
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