When my son was born, I had already decided that I was going to breastfeed. No one in my family was experienced in this area but if you know me, then you know I’m an avid researcher, so I thought I knew what to expect – for the most part.
I knew it would take a few days for my milk to come in but I also knew that the colostrum would be all my little baby needed until my milk had officially come in.
Turns out that my son was having trouble latching and it seemed like my efforts were pretty futile. He seemed to become more and more inconsolable each time I tried to get him to latch.
I had spoken with every lactation consultant that was available but it was to no avail.
Aside from being exhausted and in pain from my c-section, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to give my son breastmilk like I had planned.
Then I remembered the YouTube videos about exclusively pumping that I had binge watched back when I was researching breastfeeding.
I requested a pump at the hospital and after trying a couple of different breast shields, I was finally able to pump out a small bit of colostrum. It wasn’t much but it gave me the hope I needed to move forward!
That was the official first day of my exclusive pumping journey! I pumped exclusively for my son for 8 months.
It was tough and I wish I would’ve been able to pump for a year like I had planned, but hey, 8 months is huge!
I learned early on that establishing my milk supply was going to be KEY if I actually was going to pull this off.
How to establish your milk supply
1. Invest in a quality Breast pump
I cannot stress this enough!! Milk production is a supply and demand type of deal. Babies do a way better job than the pump when it comes to emptying your breast.
Thus, you need a high quality pump so that you are able to empty your breasts as much as possible to signal to your body that it should continue to produce more milk.
When it comes to choosing a pump, I recommend using a double electric breast pump. I used the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On the Go Tote and I loved it! The ONLY con that I have about this pump is that its soooo loud.
That being said, most nights I was able to pump in the room while hubby and baby were sleeping and the noise from the pump didn’t wake them.
Plus, most insurance plans will pay for your breast pump (thats how I got mine) so make sure to look in to that.
2. Pump ON a consistent schedule
Consistency is absolutely essential when you’re trying to build your milk supply. I hate to break it to you mama but in those days right after your bundle of joy is born, you will need to be pumping at least every two hours.
Its ideal to shoot for at least 8 pumping sessions a day. Once your little one is bit older, you’ll be able to drop a couple of pumping sessions.
However, you want to make sure that once you begin to drop pumping sessions, that you pump for longer periods of time to ensure that your milk continues to come in consistently.
3. Drink Tons of water … and then some
Yup, you read that right! If you really want to establish your supply, in addition to the above tips, you MUST drink water and a lot of it. You can’t produce milk for your little one if you aren’t hydrated.
If you aren’t hydrated enough, you could see a drop in your milk production.
I recommend carrying a water bottle around with you so that you always have something to drink near by. For me, most times when I saw a dip in my supply, lack of water or food was the culprit. Which brings me to my next point…
4. Make sure that you’re eating enough
I know those early days can be a bit of a blur but you have to make sure that you eat enough calories in order to maintain your milk supply. Its recommended that nursing moms eat at least 500 extra calories a day.
While I know many moms are concerned about getting back to their pre-baby weight, its essential that you get those extra calories in. They don’t have to be empty calories either.
There are a bunch of healthy foods that you can eat that have the potential to increase your milk supply such as oatmeal, sweet potato, salmon and almonds.
5. make sure you’re getting enough rest
I know you probably just rolled your eyes at that one but its true! I We can get so caught up in doing all that needs to be done but it is so important to make time for rest.
Besides, rest doesn’t automatically equal sleep. It’s okay if the laundry doesn’t get done and the kitchen isn’t spotless. You could always get to those chores later. Plus, if you ask me, its the perfect excuse to binge watch a little Netflix.
Remember a well rested mommy is a happy mommy!
Remember, your journey won’t look like anyone else’s and what worked for me may not necessarily work for you.
Make sure to do your research and find out what works best for you.
I know exclusively pumping seems exhausting and like a ton of work (and it is) but it’s possible.
Plus, by the 3 month mark your supply should be established and then you can start to consider dropping pumping sessions according to your baby’s needs.
Exclusively pumping isn’t for the faint of heart but it’s definitely possible for the determined and committed mama.