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  • Writer's pictureLauren Kruse

11 breast pumping survival tips (from a mama that has spent 30+ days attached to a pump)

Updated: Mar 2, 2019

As a mama who has had the joy of breast feeding two babies past the age of one while working two different jobs, I thought it may be useful to share some of my favorite products and tips for surviving what can at times feel like a daunting task.

I have been extremely blessed when it comes to milk production and nursing babies. Whether some of this is just luck of the draw, or from practicing some of the things I will list below I am not sure. What I want to express before anything however is that I believe the most important thing is that each mama out there feels like they are happy and healthy in how they care and feed their baby. If this is through nursing, pumping, formula, long as you and baby are healthy that is ALL that matters! For me, I love to nurse and can trudge through those pumping days. I have been fortunate enough to have been very successful at both. I will share what has really helped me in the hopes it can help you as well!

1. Latch matters.

Ladies, your breast pump. OMG. It matters! Let's be honest, this machine is going to be attached to your breasts for an obscene amount of time if you plan to pump for a minimum of a year like I did. I actually just did the math for the first time ever and I don't know if I am proud or mortified, but with both babies I have spent at least 30 FULL DAYS strapped to a breast pump. If I average one hour of pumping a day, x's 365 x's 2 babies, that's 730 hours..or 30 days. I may need to pause typing for a brief moment so I can just let that sink in with me....Okay..I'm back. Obviously you and said pump are going to get very cozy with each other, so it is important that you feel comfortable with your pump and that your pump works for you. No two pumps are created equally. I have tested four pumps over my nursing career- one manual and three electric. I can say with complete confidence that the Spectra wireless pump is hands down the Queen B of all breast pumps. Y'all, this thing is MAGIC!

The cordless option for this pump is everything. I have pumped through a corporate office job where I had to be out in the field marketing and as a realtor. With both of these, especially as a real estate agent, there are so many times when I found myself stuck in my car in a parking lot trying to get in a quick pump session. Having to deal with car adapters and cords is so stressful and just one more thing you have to remember. The Spectra is not only cordless but has an insane battery life and I rarely had to charge it. Again, one last thing for me to have to remember. It is an easy pump to understand, has a small built in cup holder, a night light, and is anti suction cord machine which means you don't need to worry about milk getting sucked back into system and constantly cleaning that out as well.

There is also something about the settings on this. It's like it gets your boobs and let downs. I have always been a pretty good producer, but with other pumps I could sit attached for 20 minutes and produce around 4-5 ounces per boob. With the Spectra I literally can pump for under 10 minutes (usually 6 minutes) and I can filled up 5-6 ounces on my super boob and pretty close to it on my slacker boob. I mean that is a beautiful thing. I know I am not alone in this experience with the Spectra. I did a lot of research before I chose my pump this time around, and across the board this was the theme of what this pump offered.

2. Parts, parts, and more parts.

Don't skimp. Buy the extra falanges and extra bottles. You will be glad you did. Just keep a few clean, extra bottles around. I tried to cheap out on purchasing more part with this last baby. I previously had used a Medella breast pump and so I had all Medella parts. These bottles wouldn't fit the Spectra so I tried only buying four Spectra bottles to save money. Do NOT make this mistake. There were so many mornings I was rushing out the door and filling my pump bag just to realize all my Spectra bottles were in the fridge and full of milk to go to daycare. This would mean transferring milk and cleaning bottles so I could use them to pump into for the day. UGH! Just buy the extra parts ladies, I promise it will be worth it!

Spectra S1 Bottles and parts

3. Have plenty of milk freezer bags and a sharpie.

You will avoid problem #2 if you bring these along with you and automatically date each bag with date and amount inside. I have tried a few different ones, I don't necessarily thing one is way better than the rest. I have always used the Lansinoh ones, so that is just what I am used to. I also always pump into bottles and then pour it into the bag. I know you can pump right into the bag, I just never have.

Lansinoh Milk Storage Bags

4. Yeti

Let's be honest, this is a much better look than the hospital thermos we all get sent home with. Either way, they both do the job and keep you hydrated. And hydration is super important when nursing and pumping and trying to keep your supply up.

Yeti Mug

5. Pump as often as allowed

If your job allows you to pump every two hours, pump every two hours. Legally you have to be allowed SOMETHING, I am just not sure what that is for every state and/or company. When I first returned from maternity leave, and I would say under the first 6 months, I tried to pump every 2-3 hours to keep my supply up. Once my supply is set, I typically nurse my son in the morning around 6 am, pump at 11:00 am and pump again at 3:00 pm. I am then with my kiddos again usually between 4-5 pm where I then revert to nursing on demand. Your body is amazing in how it will adjust to a schedule. This one has always allowed me to over produce and have typically 10-15 ounces extra by the end of each week to freeze and store away. Again, I did not establish this schedule until I was at a point where my body was producing the right amount I needed. I also do not need more than an extra 10-15 ounces each week to freeze and put away. Honestly, I just don't have enough space for more. But if you feel like you only want to pump for maybe 6 months but try to have a supply that will carry you another 6 months, pump more and save more. Again, it is crazy how your body adjusts to a pumping schedule. It will begin to know to produce what you are telling it to produce and when, so stay consistent and know it will pay off.

6. Have a prepared and designated pumping bag

This is SO important. If you are a working mom and getting a kid or kids out the door with all their bottles, diapers, school supplies, etc. it is a lot to be remembering all of your breast pump parts and pieces as well. Get a nice diaper bag and stock it with pump, back up charger ( I do this even with the Spectra wireless), freezer bag, bottles, sharpie, and snacks. Re stock it nightly as you need and go ahead and throw it in your car so you don't risk running out the door and forgetting the only thing standing between you and hardened leaking boobs at your place of employment. I will list below this exactly what I keep in my pumping bag. The one I've linked on Amazon is so cute and has cooler section for an ice pack and your milk.

7. Button up tops

This seems so silly and it certainly isn't always possible to find professional, office friendly tops that also allow you quick access to "the girls". But here's the thing- any day I can wear a top that just needs un buttoned or is easily accessible to pump in, my day is that much brighter. There is nothing worse than being at work, dressed appropriately, and having to take off your entire top to pump. With real estate I am often wearing dresses for closings, etc. I can't tell you how hard it is to find a dress I don't have to un zip and pull down to my waist just to pump.

8. Allow your spouse/partner/parent/friend/ANYONE WILLING to clean your breast pump parts!!

I wrote something about how my husband proves his romance to me. This was like number one on the list. Also, consider investing in a sanitizer to save you the time to doing it nightly. Below is my favorite, Baby Brezza.

9. Hands free nursing bra

I have mixed thoughts and feelings about this. It's a pain to undress in an office privacy room like I mentioned above, however, if you are having to continue to work like I Usually am, it is a small miracle to be able to multi task and pump while simultaneously type on your computer. Us moms have to maximize every second we have. This Lansinoh Simple Wishes bra adjusts over time (when your boobs stop being as massive as in those early days) and fits all pump parts. Also, for less than $40 it's a win!

10. Nursing pads

Because, leaking boobs. And being away from your baby. And sitting in an office and hearing a baby cry, or looking at a picture of your sweet faced angel and missing them, and bam. primal instinct kicks in and before you know it your trying to figure out how to cover up the two wet spot on the front of your blouse. Does it sound like I have experienced this before? Yes? That's because unfortunately I have. So pack them pads ladies and save yourselves the embarrassment!

11. Join a local breast feeding support group

This is for ALL breast feeding mamas out there, not just pumping ones. Seriously, this is maybe the most important piece of advice I can offer new moms, second time moms, third time doesn't matter. Every baby is different and every breast feeding experience is different. I have met so many moms that desperately wanted to breast feed but early on were faced with so many challenges (supply, thinking the baby wasn't eating enough, chapped nipples), but ultimately so many of these moms stopped nursing because of some of these challenges. I had a lot of these challenges early on with my first child as well, and I truly feel if I had not joined a breast feeding group the first week I was home from the hospital with my daughter, I may have stopped as well. At most of the local groups there is a lactation consultant present along with a handful of other moms at ALL stages in the journey. Some are first time moms with newborns, others are third time moms tandem nursing toddlers and a newborn. The advice and wisdom in these groups are invaluable. The friendships I made in my group are precious to me. On maternity leave it was a guaranteed once a week outing and in those newborn days allowed me to know Palmer was indeed gaining weight and I was "nursing effectively". When I ventured back to work or faced other difficulties breast feeding, a nurse was always present and the other moms to provide me with their knowledge.

Bottom line, ladies is kudos to you! You have brought new life into this world, and now are venturing back to work and leaving your sweet babe in the care of someone else. It's so hard, I cant promise it always gets easier. On top of these emotions you are dedicating yourself to continue to do what you feel is best for your baby. I am SO proud of you all! It's a journey- motherhood, breastfeeding, and pumping is a special kind of beast. Take a deep breath, know you're a rocks tar, and pump on my friends!

Pump on, mamas! We got this!!

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