In case you did not hear, I gave birth to my adorable son two weeks ago. He is still at the hospital where he underwent a major surgery that was planned before his birth. This means that I extract and store my milk until he is ready to drink it. If you ever find yourself in that situation, you will have many questions regarding how you will pump your breast milk. Let’s me tell you a few things that you won’t find in the breast pump manual.
The Rent Vs. Buy Dilemma
Pumping two breasts at once is a must. Believe me, you will not have the time to extract one breast at a time. After careful considerations, I decided to rent a professional grade milk pump. I rented a Medela Symphony, which is the same model that they lent me at the hospital. I couldn’t be happier with my choice. Regardless of the brand, you absolutely need more power when you use it 5 to 8 times a day.
Generally speaking, the Medela Symphony would enable you to pump more milk in less time than with a consumer model like the Freestyle or the In Style. I figured out that if I need a pump once the baby comes home, I could always buy one for occasional use or rent a few more months the Symphony.
Establish a Schedule
You must stay motivated to not give up. This feeling has nothing to do with your ability to produce and extract milk. It is just that every 3 hours comes often and extracting milk with a machine can be boring. Therefore, find a reason that will get you going when you feel like giving up. On the bright side, after a while it will truly become a part of your daily routine.
Here are a few tips to ease the transition. First, you can skip the night shift. When I was at the hospital, I pumped during the night. After a week of sleeping only 2-3 hours a day, I was too exhausted. With all the stress you are going through as a parent with a baby at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the medical staff encourages us to rest. The best way that parents can help their baby is to stay healthy physically and psychologically.
At the NICU, they advice mothers to extract their milk at midnight, 6:00 AM, 9:00 AM, noon, 3:00 PM, 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM. I follow more or less their schedule. I’m so tired that I also skipped the 6:00 AM session to try to get back in shape.
Setting the Mood
Being in a comfortable environment is important. I set everything up in my son’s nursery where I sit on the rocking chair and listen to music. Plus, I can admire two pictures of him. You need to feel relaxed, especially at the beginning.
I either use small storage bottles that I get at the hospital or the Medela’s Pump and Save breastmilk bags. I freeze my milk after each session.
Knowing how much a baby will drink is important to reduce waste. I mostly store 2 to 3 ounces of breast milk per container. I like to freeze a little less than 5 ounces in the bag since on average, a baby will drink about 4.5 ounces per feeding once he reaches one month old. Until that, most babies drink 2.5 to 3 ounces of breast milk in a bottle, eight times a day.
Moms should not be ashamed if they need to supplement their breastfeeding with formula milk. This will not be an issue initially since I have a good stash. I will use my own milk for the night feedings. If and when I will run out of milk for the night feedings, formula milk can come to my rescue.