The Art of Pumping

The day that I had come home from the hospital with Alyssa, my mother had suggested I should start pumping right away. At the time, I didn’t know why this was important or how to really get started with it, so I had decided to just play it by ear. I was very lucky to have my sister in-law pass onto me her Medela double-breast pump, so I was pretty much set. She had gone over the basics with me on how to use it, but I really didn’t know what I was doing.

I began pumping and within an hour I was in tears. Something was wrong.  I was pumping and pumping, and the milk flow just continued.  I wasn’t sure what this meant, but I did know that I didn’t want to keep doing it, so I called my mom. “It just keeps coming!” I cried in frustration. My mother laughed. “Of course it’ll keep coming”, she explained, “Your milk supply won’t suddenly stop just because you’re pumping, I think you need to take a break”. I stopped. I didn’t want to pump anymore anyway, in fact, I began to hate the damned thing. I decided that maybe pumping just wasn’t for me.

My sister in-law had come over. We talked and she told me about the system that she had used on her kids when she would pump and it made me feel better. I suddenly felt silly about my frustration and had learned simply that pumping was actually an art.

To get started with pumping one will need a pump, unless of course you are willing to attempt to pump without one, which is possible, but will likely take up a whole lot of time. Having a great pump will save you a lot of time and stress.  I remember watching my mother using a pump that my father had rented out for her when my brother was born, and watching her attempting to pump with something that sounded like a garbage disposal while equally tormenting her with pain. The one that my sister in-law had brought me, might as well have been silent compared to that one, and caused me no more pain than having to nurse a baby.  

In order to feel good about pumping I think one should understand why they choose to do so, and base their actions on advise from other women who had success with pumping, research, and consulting a doctor.  My first reason to pump was for the purpose of keeping up my milk supply, because we know, breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. So the more you pump, the more milk will be produced.  The second reason I had pumped was so that I would have extra meals handy for the baby in case I had to go out, needed some time off, or if I wanted to bottle-feed in public.  The third reason why it’s important to pump according to an obstetrical nurse is,  the more activity the breasts have, the less chances of developing mastitis, which is an inflammation in the breast from milk that is not properly removed from the breast. As well, pumping helps nipples to harden, get used to the sensation of being tagged and pulled, thus preventing cracks, sores and bleeding nipples, which alone can cause women to stop breastfeeding.

I began pumping for the first two months of Alyssa’s life after every feed (except for night feeds, that time was reserved for sleeping).  I also had a system that my mother and sister in-law had passed onto me.  I would pump the breast that Alyssa had just finished eating from, completely empty (or until the milk flow would slow to a drip), and then pump the other breast just a little bit so that more milk would be produced for the next feeding.  I’d repeat the pumping process after every meal, until the last one of the day.  I would collect all my pumped milk and have a bottle handy in the fridge for just in case, sometimes even two. By the time Alyssa was 4 months old, we had moved and I had found very little time to pump after every one of her meals, so I would only do it twice a day, in the morning and at night.  By the time she was on solids, I had completely stopped pumping and only pumped when I needed to leave her a bottle.

With Emma, I had followed the same system, and even had the Medela Swing (donated to me by my cousin), which I had used for travel or when I needed to pump on the go.  My breast feeding experience would probably not be the same without understanding the importance of pumping or having the option to leave breast milk for the baby when I was away.  I wish to all breastfeeding moms and moms to-be a great breastfeeding experience, and I hope that they may find a great pumping system that works for them to support this experience. 

For those looking for great pumps at a low cost, check out this deal for the Medela Pump in Style double pump, and the Medela Swing Pump from Amazon!

 

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About Malvina Beker

Malvina Beker is a Mom, a teacher, a writer, and a sociologist. She has a Masters degree in Sociology, a Bachelor of Education, and a background in child psychology and development. She has taught high school Family Studies, Parenting and Music courses, and has research experience through interviewing as well as surveys. She is a mother of two little girls that inspire her the most, and is always excited to share and exchange experiences and opinions with others.
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6 Responses to The Art of Pumping

  1. Lisa says:

    Fabulous post and so informative; you are helping so many women, thank you for sharing!!!

  2. There are so many red flags in this article, that I hardly know where to begin.

    1. Using a previously-used single-user pump?
    Using a previously owned pump which has not been approved for multiple users is like using somebody else’s toothbrush. Milk can get into the unsealed motor, even if you get new tubes and personal units.
    Remember that the average lifetime of a pump is about the same as the length of its warranty. Yes, it may last a bit longer, but if the warranty has expired, you will have no come-back from the manufacturer if it needs repairs.
    For more info, see Choosing a breast pump: http://www.communitycradle.org/LactationConsultantsCorner.htm

    2. Thinking that pumping is necessary to build and maintain adequate milk production even when nursing is going well?
    Not true. Pumping under those conditions will lead to over-production, which can lead to feeding difficulties for the baby and plugged ducts and mastitis for the mother.

    3. Thinking that making more milk than needed (via pumping) is going to prevent mastitis, help nipples to harden and get used to the sensation of being tagged and pulled, thus preventing cracks, sores and bleeding nipples?
    Not true. Unnecessary pumping can LEAD to mastitis (see #2), and it is proper positioning and latch that will prevent sore nipples.

    So much misinformation!

    • Malvina says:

      Thank you so much for taking interest and commenting on my blog.

      I would like to address some of the points that you have made on behalf of this piece.
      First and foremost I want to state that I was not attempting to write an informative piece but rather sharing my own struggles with pumping and how I had overcome them, as well, to give some attention to the topic at hand. I am not a breastfeeding consultant or a nurse, therefore I cannot possibly provide advice on how to pump or how much to pump, I was definitely not aiming to make myself into an expert in the field, and I apologies if it came out that way. The information I had in regards to mastitis and cracked nipples came from my OB RN, which I had gone back into my blog and have added in. I do understand that mastitis is itself is a huge topic, that I could not have possibly covered in the blog, but just wanted to mention it so that women would at least know the definition of it.

      I would also like to state that although my pumps were previously used, I however, did buy my own tubes and pumping units and they were still under warrantee…I didn’t feel that I needed to go into specifics with this point in my blog.

      I am so happy that profesionals like yourself have taken the time to read my blog and address some of the points that I have missed. Please feel free to visit the Start With Mom directory at http://www.startwithmom.com and get listed with us, so that other women can have your contact information!

      Sincerely

      Malvina

      • Susy says:

        The honesty of your psoting shines through

        • Edna says:

          I have been blessed and ftrtunaoe enough to be able to be at home also, but I had to pump a lot for the first few months with our first to keep up my supply while she learned how to latch properly and gain weight.After that short experience, I have great admiration for women like you, who make such a commitment to your babies’ health that you are able to keep up with it day in and day out. Great job, and keep up the good work! :-)

    • Mingho says:

      I pump at work too! Not able to be a SAHM but at least I can say my little girl has been brseat fed for all 8 months of her life so far and going strong! It is a pain somedays to pump but it is part of my day so I just do it like any other task. The people I work with are 99% guys, who I have to rely on to give me breaks and I think me pumping makes them uncomfortable but oh well! I am in a bathroom doing it! Good for you for being a mama, working and blogging! I am sure life can get hectic but it’s worth it!

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