It’s taken me nearly two years of combined breastfeeding and pumping (from two different children) to finally stop feeling like such a novice. For those who are unfamiliar with our story, know that it hasn’t been an easy road — with either child.
But from the second I found out I was pregnant with Ari, I knew that breastfeeding was an important part of my journey as a Mama. And, unfortunately, Ari never seemed to latch. Even after his tongue tie was clipped, the latch issues persisted. So day one in the hospital, I found myself utilizing the hand pump that was offered to me. Our first days at home were no different. I would deliriously pump along to that mechanical pump sound as my husband offered Ari a bottle. Thankfully, he took a bottle like a champ.
The next 12 months of my life were riddled with the sound of that pump — every 3 hours. Yes. You read that correctly. Every three hours for 12 months. That is a lot of pumping!
I started just packing it away in the freezer. And even though Remy has yet to take a bottle, this milk has not gone to waste. I have donated hundreds and hundreds of ounces to local mothers in need of breastmilk for their babies. And anything I have left will be donated to Akron Children’s Hospital next year!
In the past few months I’ve had to dish out a ton of advice to my sister (a new mom, herself), so I thought I’d pass along the wisdom to you, too!
- Don’t stress about pumping. Those first few weeks with your new baby are special… and? EXHAUSTING. Do yourself a favor: If pumping isn’t a necessity, just don’t do it yet. Get to know your baby, your body, and work on the latch. The pump will still be there in a few weeks.
- Do your research on what is the best breast pump for you. Market research is great, but testimonials on pump designs are even better! Know a Mama that pumps? Ask her what she uses! For me, the Medela Double Pump In Style was my BFF with Ari; but the second time around, I found I needed something I could just whip out — so I’ve been using a simple Medela Manual hand pump.
- Drink all of the water! You know those huge water jugs you get in the hospital (only to be outdone in size by the giant pads)? Well, you scoff at the amount of liquid they can hold. That is, until you find yourself stuck under a nursing infant for an hour and wonder, “Why the heck am I so thirsty??” You will be thirstier than you ever imagined possible.
- Get comfortable. By this point, all self-consciousness you’ve had over people seeing your body should be gone. So just be. Really! Don’t worry about covering for company — if they are in your home, they should be okay with seeing you in all your glory. I found that those first few weeks of breastfeeding, my chest was exposed so much — I ended up putting a bathing suit coverup on over my nursing bra because it had the easiest access!
- Ditch the underwire. Ladies. We’ve wasted countless hours trying to find the perfect underwire bra — uncomfortable as they may be — and now you have the freedom to ditch them! They are uncomfortable for engorged breasts. Do yourself a favor and find a comfortable, cotton, nursing bra. When you find one you like? Buy three.
- Don’t be afraid to keep your baby in the room with you. Having your baby sleep in the same room as you, at least temporarily, can be a tremendous help. That way you won’t have to go far for those 2am feedings! This seems silly, but I swear it is tremendously helpful when you’re completely sleep deprived.
- You will figure it all out. I promise. But in the meantime, don’t be afraid to ask for help — from friends; from family; heck, even from strangers! We’ve all done it. We’ve all asked for help.
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