Regrets of a Pumping Mama and Tips to Help During the Journey

On Saturday, I decided to finally clean out my freezer stash of breast milk. I was overcome with so many unexpected feelings and memories.

Bringing life into this world was an incredible experience. I wish I would have taken time just to enjoy my son after his birth. Those dang hormones got in the way of that, but truthfully the poor boy and I were not speaking the same language. I also think I was scared of my son. He lost a bit of weight, cried a lot, and I could not get him to sleep unless he was in a swing or cuddled in my arms.  He is so much happier now that I understand him more and know what makes him happy. We also had to conquer our breastfeeding and pumping challenge, you can read more about this in What I Wish I Would Have Known About Breastfeeding.

Poor Brycen! He would only sleep in this swing or in my arms. If I wanted to get any sleep, Brycen had to sleep in the swing.

The memories that flooded back surprised me. For the first four months of Brycen’s life, I felt like I was tied to a pump.  I pumped round the clock to provide milk for Brycen. I am talking every two to three hours in the beginning. I am sure pumping mammas understand me, I felt like I was going crazy.

Brycen was a couple of weeks old here!

My schedule when I first came home from the hospital with Brycen was pretty hectic. The advice I received in the hospital was to pump every two hours to build my milk supply.  I would get up at 6 am wake up older kids for school. Pump for 20 minutes. Feed Brycen. Clean pumping parts and put the extra milk away. Repeat at 8 am, but this time get Ruthy up and ready for the day as well.  I would pump continually every two to three hours day and night, while still trying to care for my newborn and other children. I remember taking road trips with our family and pumping in the car using a hand pump. There was very little sleep and caring for myself during this time.

Pumping with my babies! Sometimes I had to multitask to get my baby snuggles in!

After a couple of weeks of pumping, I joined the Facebook group for exclusive pumpers. Joining the group was a great move. I got my questions answered and heard success stories. Moms who pumped the full year or more. Wow, incredible! Other moms shared resources and tips as well that made their journey more enjoyable.

Anyways as I was cleaning out my milk supply, I remembered how much I hated pumping and wished we could skip or fast forward the stage we were in. I have to add that I was cleaning out my supply, because my milk had gone bad. The day my son began exclusively breastfeeding, I never looked back on my pumping days. I probably pumped possibly once or twice afterwards, because of a clogged duct, but had enough of a milk supply that I did not really need to pump for date nights! In fact, most of the milk I had saved up, went bad. Try not to judge. As I was cleaning the bottles that held my milk, all of sudden I had to hold back the tears. It is hard to explain  what I was feeling. I found myself missing this stage!  I was proud that I was able to provide milk for my son. I also felt incredibly guilty for wasting my milk. I did give my toddlers a milk bath, but most of it went down the drain as I melted the bottles and cleaned them out. I was actually missing this time period. It dragged on while we were in it, but honestly went by so fast!

The following are tips for pumping mammas:

  1. Try not to stress. I know easier said than done, but stress can actually influence your milk supply in a negative way. Eventually, I stopped paying attention to schedules and pumped when it was convenient for me. Immediately I saw a rise in how much I was pumping. This was when I started to save some extra milk as well. Some moms even wear a cover so they are not fixated on how much milk they are pumping during a session.
  2. Use coconut oil.  Pumping often can make you very sore and tender. It began to hurt to wear clothes. I picked up the tip to rub coconut oil on. You can either choose to rub it on pumping parts or your body.  Coconut oil is not harmful to your newborn if it does get in your milk supply. It just adds a little extra fat, which is healthy for babies. I would not recommend purposefully adding coconut oil to your babies milk, however. Applying coconut oil,  was a game changer for me. Pumping was no longer as painful and I began telling myself we can continue a little longer.
  3. Do something you enjoy while pumping. I began using pumping as my time. I would watch my favorite vlogs,  tv shows, and movies while pumping. Sometimes I would listen to music. Bryce would be in charge of kids, and I would get a little, much needed alone time.  This helped me look forward to pumping just to get some time where I did not have to worry about anybody else. Of course this was not always the case,  but when I could just meditate or relax it was nice!
  4.  Make sure your flanges are the right size.  Who knew they made these in different sizes… I did not! If the flanges are too small, pain and discomfort might be experienced. If the flanges are too large  or small, this also can impact your milk supply. I tried various sizes until I found a good fit. A difference in comfort and milk supply was seen immediately.
  5. Do what is right for you! I wish I would have enjoyed this time period more, instead of being stressed! This is why I am sharing these tips. It took me far to long to figure out how to make it more enjoyable! If pumping every 3 hours is stressful for you, try every four hours or dropping a pump.  If pumping is too much, remember fed is best.

    These two are not little babies, but toddlers now!

It is crazy how fast our babies grow!  Brycen is now a year old and Ruthy will be two in a couple of months.  Elijah is now 9 and Isabel is 7. No more babies in this home! Savor the moments with your children. They quickly grow out of the phase they are in and enter into new ones.

My kids are growing so fast! Sometimes I wish I can press pause to catch up to how much they are changing!

Below are pumping schedules I tried to follow. A little note I might add is to use the schedules as a guide. They do not need to be followed perfectly.  Also try not to allow your pumping schedule dictate what you do for the day. If you are going to be out for a while and you know you are going to miss a pump, add an extra pump either before or afterwards depending on the length of time you are gone.

I found this schedule helpful, but as I mentioned did not follow it completely! I found this schedule from baby prepping. You can find it here.

 

If you are trying to build your milk supply, this is a helpful power pumping schedule. This schedule is from mooandgoo22.blogspot.com.
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Comments

  1. Stephanie says:

    Oof. I don’t have kids, but that sounds exhausting. Good job for sticking it out.

  2. Maggie [Totally Teen Travel] says:

    Although I sometimes felt like a cow, I still treasure the time I spent nursing my kiddos. I wish I had had your blog to refer to.

  3. brittany says:

    Isn’t it crazy how everyones pumping/nursing stories vary so greatly! You are one strong mama for pushing through! What ‘they’ say is so true, “the days are long and the years are short.” I admire that you are now sharing your knowledge for other mamas out there!

  4. adashofdanish says:

    Not going to lie, I still have milk in the freezer. I know I need to throw it out but I just can’t. I was fortunate that I only needed to pump after returning to work and never had any major issues. I know it can be super stressful.

  5. Cyndi Moskal says:

    These days are well in the past for me but I wish I would have had all this great info back then. Great info and advice.

  6. Heidi says:

    Great tips for new moms! 🙂

  7. Linda says:

    I breathe fed my kids way back in the day, no need to pump…unless we were going out or I had to work…

  8. Monica says:

    I just emptied my freezer stash too. It was a hard and painful experience the first time around. This second time was much easier. Having a good pump and eating the right foods helped a lot.

  9. LauraBelle says:

    Great story thank you for sharing it.

  10. Great story – thanks for sharing it!

  11. What a great, informative, and encouraging post for pumping moms. Pumping is such a headache for me and I never did too much of it. I can relate to your feelings of sadness as well. That’s usually around the time when I get pregnant again 😉

  12. Anitra says:

    Such great info for new mamas! Thanks for sharing!

  13. alexiswalllovelivingjoyfullycom says:

    Thanks for the advice and the schedules. They are nice to be able to reference back to.

  14. shanna says:

    these are great tips. And I followed a lot of them. But in the end, I think pumping is just a pain in the ass no matter what. Haha.

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