Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Electric Baby

I thought I would share a few tidbits of perhaps useless information just in case it might be helpful to someone. I have dubbed my pump "the Electric Baby". It is more fun that way. So I have been pumping since the day Jack was born. You might recall we had to get him going pretty quickly, so I got acquainted with my "Electric Baby" right away.....heck I used it while I was laboring to try to get things going faster....did I ever mention that? Not sure.

Anyhoodles, I didn't actually start pumping and saving until week two. Once my milk got going I decided to give the ladies a break from double baby action, but after a couple of weeks I knew it was time to start building a stash. I was extremely inquisitive when it came to doing this. If you haven't heard already, your boobs are pretty volatile the first few months post-birth. The amount your baby is drinking and when is telling your lady mounds how much to produce and at what time. So if I had maintained my schedule of pumping in between feeding Jack, my tits would have been exploding in pain every hour and I would have to maintain that schedule or face some serious leakage and/or pain.

My midwife instructed me to pump right after I fed Jack. The idea behind that being you aren't stealing any milk from him and you aren't adding in unwanted "pseudo" feedings that you would have to maintain. So this is what I did. I would get an ounce or two at the end of his feedings and then put my "days work" into a freezer bag and label it. Granted I didn't do it everyday or anything (this was nice for flexibility, when we traveled I didn't bring my pump, so just pumping after I fed him allowed this to happen), but it was shocking how quickly I built a stash this way. When I started work last week, I had filled about 20 freezer bags of milk.

Last week when it came time to pump for the realz, I had no idea how much to expect. I knew I would pump about every three hours. The first day I was meticulous. Mentally filing what time Jack last ate and then making sure I pumped right at 3 hours. There is always a slight fear, or at least there was for me, that my supply might be affected by the emotional change of going back to work.....I guess I wouldn't say it was super emotional for me. Not even as emotional as I expected it to be. So I tried to stay calm about the milk supply thing too. It is one of those things that if you worry about not making enough milk, you probably will not make enough milk. Again this is my absolutely non-expert opinion...I have no idea if that is the case.

So after the first couple of days I instituted a rough plan. I would pump around 9, noon and 3pm. This works out really well. I try to keep the last pumping really close to 3 because I take off between 4:30 and 5pm so I want my milk to be back in for my ravenous little man at home.

The first day I brought two freezer bags (I have come to like the Lans.inoh bags the best. The first box of bags were Me.dela, but the Lans.inoh bags hold twice as much), four storage bottles, and two lids for the bottles attached to my pump. Overkill you might think? Indeed. But I had no idea what to expect. I wasn't sure if I would be pumping three times or four, how much would come out, etc. The last thing I wanted to do was run out of receptacles for the milk.

The thing you realize when you start pumping without feeding first, is how your boobs are producing. I discovered right away that lefty was the lazy boob. My first pump resulted in about 5 ounces from the right and under 2 from the left. Oh! you might be interested to know that I pumped for 15 minutes for the first few days and I double-teamed it. Some things you will read will tell you to only pump one side at a time....um who has that kind of flexibility? Not me. My midwife recommended pumping a full 15 minutes when I started out, just to help maintain supply, but I have kind of relaxed this once I realized how much was going to come out. Once I reach those levels, ususally after 10 minutes, it seems silly to sit there for longer.

Once I realized that the left was slacking, when I got home I started always feeding Jack on this side first. Voila! A few days later lefty was doing her share and producing just a little less than my right. So an added benefit to pumping is you can help correct any supply problems you might have.

So you might have guessed you don't need to bring all your pumping containers with you. After a few days I realized all I really need is two freezer bags. Again they are the Lan.sinoh ones so I think each one holds around 12 oz. or something (mine are only marked up to 6 oz....I have no idea why? Maybe if I read the directions they would tell me to only fill them up to 6 oz for some reason, but I don't follow directions! I'm a breastpumping rebel). So obviously if you are using smaller storage bags you will probably need more of them.

I can tell you that if you are using the storage bottles (me.dela and/or a.meda) that you will probably need 6 of them. Or at least I would. I am not sure how my supply compares to the "average" woman. I extract 8-10 ounces at my 9am "session", then about 5-7 ounces at noon, and 4-7 at 3pm. So as you can see, in my case, my supply seems to dwindle as the day goes on. This makes total sense when you think about it logically. Your first few feedings of the day are probably your biggest because your kid has just (hopefully) slept for four hours or more (lucky bitches) since his/her last feeding so they need to make up for it. I am curious if my 6pm, 9pm, and 11pm feedings start ramping back up again? Anyway, my supply does go down, but not significantly, only by an ounce or two.

I have become brand saavy. I have an a.meda pure.ly you.rs pump. but I had some me.dela storage bottles and the little travel thingy with the freezer thingymagigger (so articulate I know). They fit just fine onto my pump. So it's all interchangeable (shhh don't tell the companies). (I actually have two pumps now, but that is a whole 'nother story*)

So for those of you looking for pump "accessories". If you have a me.dela pump but find a.meda bottles on sale, now you know they will fit....for those who could give a crap, you are now filled with more useless information. You're welcome.

Okay I seriously need to wrap this up, it is getting out of hand. But one last tidbit I wanted to share is that I have noticed the "let down" from pumping is much more painful then my normal let down. Since I started pumpin' for realz I get this painful tingly feeling before it is time to pump. Don't get me wrong it isn't the worst pain.....like for example compared to pushing a head out your vag... but it is a noticeable pain. And the first few times it hit me I had to work hard not to grab my boobs and cringe, as I was talking to my boss at the time. I have experienced "let down" before, but it was much more mild than these recent ones so my deduction is that it is related to pumping. Pumping itself isn't painful though. Nor should it be from what I understand. My pump is adjustable, so you find a setting that works well and is still comfortable and you go to town.

I hope someone somewhere found this information a tad helpful. Oh I should totally open this up for questions because there might be shit I didn't say that you are curious about. So have at it.

*mkay for those interested. I bought a me.dela pump off my friend and then was offered a free pump from a co-worker. His mom was a lactation consultant and the companies send her free pumps so she will recommend the brands, etc. My SSIL was due in January and needed a pump, so I offered her the me.dela, since I didn't have my hands on the other one yet. Well turns out she didn't use it. She had some issues breastfeeding and ended up switching to formula pretty early on. I asked her if she would mind me taking it back because another friend was expecting and could use it and she gladly returned it. Well since that time....this is a very convoluted story in case you haven't figured it out yet....let me back up a minute. The friend who could use it was Emmicakes. Emmicakes was planning to get her sister's pump but then she found out her other sister was expecting (she has four sisters, holy crap!) and wanted the pump. Anyway big sister drama ensued.Told you this was convoluted. 

Anyway, I thought I could alleviate all sister-related tensions by getting the pump back from our SSIL. Sadly Emmicake's sister miscarried, so that put the pump need back in limbo. I decided to just hold on to it and wait because it is possible her sister will try to get pregnant again.....but it has crossed my mind to try this one and see if I like it better. The only issue there is that my SSIL must have tossed all the replaceable parts and bought her own set, because when she gave it back, all that was there was the pump and the bag. FYI you can get full replacement parts for the med.ela on amazo.n for like $50.....long (and probably unnecessary) story short it would be silly of me to buy new parts just to see if I like this pump better, but it has crossed my mind.

For those of you who are grossed out at the idea of having a used pump, you should know that buying replacement parts changes out everything that would touch your boob and your milk. So don't be squeemish about having a used pump. It is definitely a way to save.


  1. Wow, I am definitely bookmarking this post for when I need it. So much information! Really...I had no idea.

  2. Amanda said everything I was thinking! Very interesting.

  3. Welcome to the wonderful world of pumping! What is the brand of the other pump? I was on a pump forum-ish thing online while I was pumping and everyone on there pretty much agreed that the absolute best pump in the world is the Medela Pump in Style Advanced (or PISA if you're cool like us). It's what I used after I switched off of the rented hospital grade one, and it worked better than the hospital one. So if the other pump happens to be a PISA, I definitely recommend buying the parts to see if you like the other pump. ALSO, I have a kit of "Pumpin Pals" (check them out here: http://www.pumpinpal.com) which comes with 3 different sizes of flanges (I prefer to call them boobie cones though). So you get all three sizes and just use the ones that best fit your girls. Anyway, suffice it to say that I never used the larges and though I don't actually know for sure what size your girls are, I thought you might appreciate having them. Most people experience increased comfort while pumping and increased output. One last note (unless you are interested in more, because I could talk your ear off about pumping) I HIGHLY recommend joining the online group that I was in, it is without a doubt the only reason that I made it as far as I did with pumping for Cadence, and a ton of the moms on there are pumping because they returned to work just like you. Here is the link to join the yahoo group: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/PumpMoms/

  4. I am so happy that pumping is working out for you! Jack is a lucky little dude!