With all that being said, when my babies were born the neonatologist came and spoke with me about 30 minutes after my C section and explained that my babies were too small for formula. It was too heavy for their tiny stomachs and they needed breastmilk, whether mine or donor. At that point I told myself I would do whatever I had to do to give them my milk, at least while they were in the NICU. I felt so helpless and pumping made me feel like I was doing something for my babies. Exclusively pumping is a huge labor of love but I really think it helped me heal mentally and emotionally because I was "giving" my babies something even though I couldn't take care of them.
I have compiled all my favorite products that I have used over the past 5.5 months as well as other random things that have worked for me so far on my journey of exclusively pumping.
+ Medela hospital grade pump. Because my twins were so early, the neonatologist recommended that I use a hospital grade pump. They were unsure of whether my milk would even come in since my body wasn't "ready" and also since I was producing milk for two babies, they recommended this pump. I wouldn't recommend you buy this pump, as it is about $2,000 (yikes!) but if your local hospital has a lactation consultant, ask them if these are available to rent. I currently pump about 50 ounces a day and a lot of that is because of how awesome this pump is. I rent it for $80 a month because my insurance does not cover it (so annoying).
+ Hands free pumping bra because nobody has time to hold the pump in place for 20 minutes. I actually bought 2 of these because I was washing it so frequently and I couldn't be without it for that long.
+ These lactation cookies are SO delicious. I make a batch almost weekly and devour them. Probably why I can't get rid of the baby weight but hey, it's for a good cause right? The three ingredients in them that help milk production are oats, flaxseed, and Brewer's yeast.
+ Blue Gatorade. I had so many women tell me this can help boost milk supply. Not sure if it really helped or not but those first few months I did try to drink it occasionally.
+ Brewer's yeast is one of the things that people swear by for boosting milk production. I use it frequently in lactation cookies, banana bread, etc.
+ Medela breastmilk storage bottles. I pump right into these. I like that the ounces are shown on these so that I know how much I've pumped and also that tops come with these so you can throw them right into the fridge. They can also be put in the dishwasher because nobody has time to hand wash all these pump parts!
+ A cute nursing cover that can also be used as a carseat cover. I used this multiple times a day in the NICU to cover up while pumping because there was zero privacy.
+ Breastmilk storage bags. I don't necessarily think one brand is better than another, I just started using these and haven't had a problem with them. I always write the date pumped and how many ounces before I throw them in the freezer.
+ Mrs. Patel's lactation treats. My cousin shipped a box of these chocolate lactation treats to my house right after the babies were born which was such a thoughtful gesture. I ate one a day and I really do think they helped my supply. They taste so yummy too!
One thing that really helped my milk come in during the first few weeks was power pumping. The lactation consultant told me to do this once a day for a few days in a row to mimic "cluster feeding". I did this daily for the first 2ish weeks and even though it was such a pain to be tied down for so long, it really helped.
I downloaded the app "Pump Log" on my phone and I log every single pumping session. I have been really happy with this app and highly recommend it so that you can track how much you're producing. It's also helpful to be able to look back at any date and see how long you were pumping and how much you were producing to compare it to the present. It's crazy to look back at how different my pumping was in those first few weeks compared to now (I used to pump 250 minutes a day and only product ~12 ounces... now I pump about 100 minutes a day and produce ~50 ounces)!
This is my typical pumping schedule now that the girls are home:
+ 5:30am: set my alarm every morning so that I can try to have it done by the time Vivi wakes up around 6am. Sometimes I am already awake feeding the twins so I will just pump while I feed them a bottle. I pump for 30 minutes during this session first thing in the morning.
+ 9:30am: if we are home this is my second session of the day. We are usually at the doctor, physical therapy, etc. at this time so I just do it as close to this as possible. Usually pump about 15-18 minutes.
+ 1pm: pump about 15-20 minutes right when I put Vivi down for a nap.
+ 5pm: pump about 15 minutes whenever Garrett gets home from work so he can handle all the kids.
+ 9:30pm: pump 20ish minutes right before I go to bed.
I am not sure how long I will keep pumping but it's working for us right now. It is not super convenient but I have so much help which makes it possible for me to keep going. If it ever begins to feel like a burden I will throw the towel in and pat myself on the back for the hard work I put in. We have 4 freezers full and I have not had to touch any frozen milk yet which is a huge blessing. I know pretty soon these girls will be eating more than I can produce so I'm thankful to have a frozen stash.
I have had a lot of people ask if I plan to nurse and the answer is probably not. When you watch your babies struggle so much just to learn how to drink a bottle, the last thing I want to do is have to make them learn how to eat all over again. We are finally doing awesome with bottle feeding so I don't want to "rock the boat".
Have any questions about my experience? Shoot me an email!