I never thought in a million years I would spend 6+ hours a day, 40+ hours a week attached to a pump. Seriously when I was choosing a pump from insurance I literally CLOSED MY EYES and clicked one. I thought it didn’t matter and I would just breastfeed.
But like everything in my life, nothing goes according to plan and we were taken on a new journey. Addy was born at 36 weeks and had latching problems, (We have since learned to latch but I have continued pumping).
The first 6 weeks were the hardest to get through. I was spending 8-9 hours a day pumping around the clock. I could only go two hours before my next pump- EVEN AT NIGHT.
Once we hit 12 weeks and I slowly dropped my night time pumps,and it started to get easier.
However, one of the hardest parts for me wasn’t the night time pumps, but planning any rare outing I got in 2 hour increments made leaving the house impossible.
So to regain my sanity, have some freedom, and not despise pumping- I have learned some tricks to help exclusive pumping moms keep their freedom WITHOUT missing out on pumps.
Get A Hands-Free Pumping Bra
This isn’t just for pumping on-the-go, this is ESSENTIAL to be successful at pumping. The first week I pumped without a hands-free bra and ended up covered in breastmilk and counting down the seconds til my pump was over. Now I just strap on and get to do things (like write this blog). My FAVORITE hands-free pumping bra is by Kindred Bravely. It has padding so when you’re done pumping and have hot dog nipples, they can’t see it through your shirt. And you don’t have to worry about switching out your bra for every pump. It is also perfectly compatible with the Willow which was a huge deal to me.
Your Pump Bag Matters
Like I’ve mentioned, I was not prepared for my pumping journey and didn’t think I would need a pumping bag. So a few days postpartum I did some research and got the WORLD’S BEST PUMPING BAG EVER!
It’s by Vogshow and is a “double decker” bag. The bottom is an insulated cooler with slots to hold bottles. You un-velcro where the bottles go and can slip a thin ice pack in there to keep it cool. There is then plenty of room to add more bottles, ice packs, and bags of milk once you’ve pumped.
The top part is where I store my pump (either willow or Motif) and clean pump parts. Then the whole back part unzips and I store diapers, wipes, changing pad, and pump cleaning wipes. And if that wasn’t enough storage, there are two small hidden zippers in the front for your keys, wallet, or make up AND two open compartments on each side. This bag LITERALLY makes pumping on the go SO easy.
I keep essentials for a diaper bag in my car in a little box full of extra diapers, change of clothes, wipes, and binkies and just refill my pumping bag as needed. It helped me stop bringing two bags everywhere I go.
Get Comfortable Pumping In Public
Or in the car, at your friend’s house, in bathrooms, restaurants, and anywhere else you can hook up at. I went out two weeks PP and had to pump right as we were sitting down to eat. Well I had my Medela Freestyle at the time WITHOUT freemies and just put a cover over me and pumped literally while we ate lunch. After being in the hospital and everyone seeing you naked (even food service) I have lost any kind of shame. But if you want to be successful pumping AND not stuck at home more than you have to, getting comfortable pumping in public is key. And nursing covers are AMAZING! I have stressed so many times over how I was going to make appointments or run errands and pumping in the car has been a lifesavor. As long as I have my bag of essentials I am able to essentially be gone ALL DAY LONG and get my pumps in. If you still struggle, just think of what you would do if you were breastfeeding. Your baby would need to be fed and you would either have to cover & do in public or hide away in the car. Either one is fine, BUT both goes for pumping! If anyone asks what you’re doing, just say your making your baby’s food! You are a super hero mama!
Get A Car Adapter For Your Pump
Every single pump has a compatible car adapter! Getting a car adapter was a GAME CHANGER! Like I mentioned above, I was able to pump to and from appointments or while running errands. And if we were somewhere that didn’t have a spare room or place for me to pump, I would hand the baby over to Daddy and enjoy a pump break in the car with some peace and quiet. Turning your pumps into positives is a HUGE deal. So don’t look at hiding in the car as lonely but instead as some much needed alone time! Or if you have to bring the baby with you, put them in their car seat, sit in the back seat with them, and play with them or even feed them!
Invest In Ice Packs & Pump Wipes
I had NO idea that Medela made wipes to clean pump parts if you don’t have access to soap and water. This is a GAME changer! I keep them in my pump bag at all times and use them on my Willow or Motif parts in between pumps.
I got this pack of thin ice packs that slide perfectly in the bottle compartment of my Vogshow bag. They keep everything nice and cool so you can be out for a few hours and not waste a single drop of your liquid gold. I put one behind the bottles, on the bottom of the bag and on both sides so my milk can be fully chilled.
Get A Discreet On-The-Go Pump
I prefer my Motif pump above all else, but it’s a little bulky to bring around. Since I was committed to pumping long term, I invested in the Willow Pump. If you follow me on Instagram you know I have a love/hate with my Willow. But any problems I have with it, I can’t deny the fact it has given me incredible freedom. A few weeks ago I took a Christmas tree decorating class and pumped in the class with no one knowing. (I mean they gave me a few weird looks at my enhanced boob size and suctioning sounds but other than that it’s pretty descreet.
I don’t blame you if you don’t want to shell out a few hundred on the Willow for a just “on-the-go pump”. There are plenty of other options! Pumps like Medela Freestyle, Spectra S9, and Bella Baby are portable pumps that are easy to carry and doesn’t need to be plugged in. You can use the Freemie Closed System for when you’re out and about and not have bottles hanging off of your chest.
Download Pump Log
I am so OCD about tracking my pumps. What I love most about Pump Log is it keeps track of your daily/weekly pumps and has a feature that keeps track of your freezer stash! You can even enter for how long you would like to feed baby breastmilk & it will tell you when you can stop pumping and have enough in the freezer to feed baby until that date! I also love the fact that it has reminders so you don’t have to obsessively watch the clock but instead set an alarm through the app when it’s time for your next pump.
Get A Nursing Cover
I now keep one in my bag at all times. It is so helpful if we are out to eat or at the doctors and I need to pump. Or even if you are in the car and shy about someone seeing you, throw that baby on!
OWN AND BE PROUD OF YOUR PUMPING JOURNEY
Pumping is HARDER than breastfeeding-there I said it. You should never feel ashamed of your journey or embarrassed. Instead, feel PROUD for what you are doing. It is so incredible selfless and can be mentally taxing at times. You are a superwoman and I am SO freaking proud of you!!
Pumping is a hard journey but you are not alone. There are plenty of exclusive pumping support groups on Facebook that help connect you with other mommas and are SO informative. I wouldn’t be as far as I am today without those groups.
And remember- whether you choose to nurse, pump, or formula feed- FED IS BEST.
Motherhood is hard, you are not alone, and you are KICKING ASS!