My Tips on Breast Pumping | Being a First-Time Mom

my baby son

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.

Milk Storage

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.

Mixed Feedings

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.

  • Paulina
    March 21, 2011 at 20:17

    What a great thing you have found a brand that you like and does the job perfectly. I unfortunately had a manual pump that did more harm then good – each extracting was a pain, did not produce much and, i am certain of this, in part destroyed my breasts. They are definitely not the same after my breast feeding experience…

    Keep it up Kim. Breastfeed him as long as you can.

  • Julie
    March 22, 2011 at 09:31

    Congratulations Kim!!!!!! You are so right about not feeling guilty about supplementing with formula, or feeling guilty about anything else regarding breastfeeding. It isn’t as easy as it seems it will be. I wish they had told me this bit of info before the birth. My son didn’t take to breastfeeding right away, I felt like a bit of a failure However it all worked out and we continued until he was a year and half. The best gift that I could give him. So happy we stuck it out.

  • Jessica
    March 22, 2011 at 20:08

    Congratulations and welcome to motherhood! Great tips and hope you are both able to leave the hospital soon 🙂

  • cynthia at the daily basics
    March 23, 2011 at 14:32

    He is ABSOLUTELY beautiful! Much love and happiness to your beautiful family !

  • Rowaida Flayhan
    March 24, 2011 at 04:46

    He is absolutely adorable an angel, bless him. Welcome to motherhood, a great joy and blessing in life. Congratulations Kim

  • Jen
    March 24, 2011 at 11:42

    Congratulations Kim! I am so happy to hear that both mama and baby are doing well 🙂 (And look at that head of hair! So precious.)

    Pregnancy, childbirth, breast feeding is so different for each woman. Even for the same woman one pregnancy to the next can vary quite a bit. You’re so smart to begin mixed feedings now. Making babies versatile can help when you go home. Dad can do the night feedings with the bottle so you can get some extra sleep.

  • Aimee
    March 24, 2011 at 23:53

    Congratulations and welcome baby boy Vallee! I hope he will hurry home safe and sound 🙂

  • Josie Chveid
    April 1, 2011 at 01:59

    Kate, congrats! He is adorable! I love your site, come and visit my blog (but is in portuguese, cause I’m brazilian!)! Josie

  • Carrie
    April 20, 2011 at 13:02

    Am just catching up with your blog! Am a full-time working mom with 6 month old twin boys and I love to read your posts when I have some spare time at work! Hope that it is all still going well with your pumping and you are doing a great job! I exclusively pump at this point and as much as it sucks, it is so rewarding and good for the boys.
    Keep it up! Hope your adorable little boy is doing great!