Pro Tips if You Decide that Exclusive Pumping is for You
I posted a lengthy tale about how exclusive pumping (EP) didn’t work out well for me, but that’s not to say it doesn’t work for everyone.
The lack of information out there about EP was astounding to me so, although I am by no means at all an expert, my hope is that I could compile a list of some pro tips for moms with the fortitude to try EP. During my harrowing 3 weeks, I picked up some useful intel on EP firsthand that I wanted to share.
Make sure to buy more than one pumping bra.
Like any bra, you don’t want to over-wash because it may lose its shape. If you’re like my mother and grandmother, you wouldn’t even dream of machine washing a brassiere anyways.
However, if you are pumping, you better believe you’re doing it at least every couple of hours. That means if you wash that bad boy, there is zero dry time – maybe not even machine wash time – so you are going to want to get at least two. I would recommend buying one while you are still pregnant to be sure it fits, then order another one pronto before baby.
Invest in all the 21st-century crap that your mama never had – lazy bottle warmers unite!
My mother-in-law (and basically everyone who had kids before the 2000s) has taken a look at our baby swag with a superior shrug and a patronizing eye-roll to inform us that we never had all of this stuff when you were a baby. Well, guess what? We do now!
There is no point taking a harder road on the little things – there are going to be enough hard roads ahead without being too proud to be a little lazier. There are lots of affordable little gadgets out there to make life that much better.
Some key ones for my exclusive pumpers:
a bottle warmer: you do NOT want to wait for a pot to boil with a baby screaming in your ear on no sleep, you can take my word for that
a microwavable bottle/baby swag sterilizer: see above
a nursing pillow: no, a regular pillow simply is not the same
more bottles than you will need: kind of pricey but this will alleviate a tiny bit of the endless washing if you can afford it
a bottle washing brush: for all that endless washing
slow-sipping nipples: these are something I didn’t use and wish I had because my baby guzzled that formula/pumped milk like an undergrad at the bar and a slower feed would have helped with gas pain and given us a bit more of a breather
Wash your nursing bras and breast pads while you shower.
Showering as a new parent is hard. But so is the laundry and all the rest of it. Unless your partner or someone else can take the baby every single time, it’s tough, but honestly, there’s just no time for anything at all if you are an EP hero.
One thing that helped me was washing my breast pads and nursing bras while I showered. I had a bar of soap, would scrub them quick like those laundry ladies in The Little Mermaid, then hang them over my bath towel to dry until the next day.
Get a few more breast pads.
Your pump may come with a couple, but if you forget to wash them or are grossed out by the milk leaks (I never had this problem because I didn’t have that much milk, but I’m sure it would be annoying) or the sticky nipple cream, it’s nice to change them during the course of the day and/or night.
There are also disposable ones but they aren’t as comfy and you know, the planet. Personally, I figured with all the cloth diapers I wasn’t willing to use, this would be one area that I could be more environmentally friendly.
Finally, hang in there! If EP becomes too much for you, try breastfeeding or formula. If you are determined to stick with it – you’re a legend. Always give yourself credit for trying your best to feed your baby in a way that feels right for you.