Below is Ash’s story about pumping for her daughter after nursing got off to a rough start in the NICU.
Why did you decide to exclusively pump?
Exclusively pumping felt like my only option. My daughter was born just shy of 37 weeks and was in the NICU for 3 days. The lactation support at my local hospital was very inconsistent. Having so many people with different advice made it difficult to fall into a routine.
We struggled when we got home, and I felt like I had no place to turn for help. Exclusively pumping, here we came!
How long did you end up exclusively pumping (or, if you haven’t weaned yet, how long do you plan to)?
I exclusively pumped for 12 months! My last pumping session was on her first birthday. Bittersweet, but it was great packing that pump away!
How did you make EPing work for you? Was there anything in particular that made it easier for you (products, tips, etc.)?
I feel like determination is what made exclusively pumping work for me. I knew I wanted her to have my milk, and I was going to do whatever I could to make that happen.
I used a pumping app to time and track my sessions. I made sure I had a set schedule. My husband, family and certain co-workers knew my schedule, so it just became a routine.
I had several clogged ducts so using a rice pack (heated up) prior to pumping really helped. Having a designated spot in the house helps too. You can leave a book, water, or a phone charger handy so you don’t have to fuss with that while getting ready to pump, and then you can relax with a book.
If you’re away from your baby and you have to pump, looking at pictures helps to relax and focus on baby. I also made lactation cookies, which helped my supply and tasted good!
What was your biggest challenge with exclusive pumping?
My daughter started drinking more milk around 5 months, and I wasn’t able to keep up. We had to buy formula, and I was devastated. We only used formula for a short time until I boosted my supply, and it didn’t even faze her.
The emotional struggle was a HUGE challenge for me. I felt that I was letting her down but the stress didn’t help with my production!
What advice would you give to a new exclusive pumper?
Don’t give up! It may seem like your body isn’t producing enough milk, but it is. Try and relax – stress does not help production.
Also, any amount of milk you can give your baby/child is awesome! Whether it’s for 3 weeks, 6 weeks, or even months, you did a great job. It’s tough work so give yourself some credit!
Anything else you’d like to add?
If you can, try and stock pile some in the beginning – that will help in the long run!
Thanks to Ash for sharing her story! Awesome job pumping for a full year!