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While I always planned on breastfeeding, I sort of accidentally fell into exclusively pumping rather than feeding my baby straight from the source. As I hadn’t planned on using the pump exclusively (in fact, I’m not really sure what my plan was for the pump since I work from home and had my baby with me), I didn’t have much assembled to help gather or store expressed milk.
Ah, well. Plans change! After almost eleven months of pumping every ounce Ada gets, here’s what I’ve come to rely on to make the pumping as pleasant as possible:
- Pump – Obviously. If you are in the US, you can now get one for free through your insurance. I also strongly recommend getting a stash of replacement parts so you aren’t up a creek if something rips, cracks, breaks, or gets irrevocably icky. Learn your pump parts, too. I have a Medela Pump in Style Advanced and I’ve learned to replace the membranes monthly to maintain suction (and, thus, output).
- Small burp rag – I got these burp rags at my baby shower. I registered for them because they are pretty. They are also kind of on the small side. We now use cloth diapers for burp rags and these small rags live with my pump to clean up post-pumping.
- Pumpin’ Pals Flanges – I don’t know who designs the flanges that come standard with pumps but I wonder if they actually have boobs. I was constantly being pinched just under the nipple so after some research, I upgraded. I was hesitant at first (the Pumpin’ Pals set comes with three sizes of flanges and I was all annoyed that I couldn’t get just the size I need). But! Now I’m glad I have multiple sizes. Lactating really changes your boobs, man. Anyway, do yourself a loving favor and upgrade to these flanges. They are contoured and angled so your nipple isn’t pinched and you can even lean back while pumping without spilling precious liquid gold everywhere.
- Coconut Oil – Even with the upgraded flanges, you need some kind of lubrication to avoid nipple friction (even typing “nipple friction” makes my teeth hurt. Oy!). I tried many, many nipple creams and eventually came back to good old Coconut Oil from Trader Joe’s (which we always have on hand because I wash my face with oil). It does the job and doesn’t cost much, so win-win.
- Bottle Warmer – I LOVE my Kiinde. I don’t use any of the other Kinde products (though I hear great things about their bag system!), but this warmer is the freaking best. It’s very easy to use, so explaining it to anyone who is helping you watch your baby is a snap an it has held up to constant use. My skinny Medela and wide Tommee Tippee bottles both fit and are warmed well. We also warm baby food in it! As a bonus, it’s sleek looking (small victories, but if something is going to live on your counter for over a year it helps that it isn’t clunky or ugly, no?)
- Milkies Milk Trays – In the halcyon days of oversupply, I was constantly freezing milk for later use. These let me freeze milk into small, one-ounce sticks that I then transferred into a large freezer bag to label and store. The sticks fit right into a bottle so I can defrost exactly what I need right in the bottle I’ll use to feed. They even have lids to keep other freezer yuckiness out of your milk.
- Bottle-to-Pump Adaptor – If you aren’t using the bottles that came with your pump, save yourself some hassle and get the converter so you can pump directly into your preferred bottles. As long as you are using a “popular” brand of pump and bottle (Medela and Tommee Tippee respectively over here), converters most assuredly exist (and are cheap!).
- Nursing Pads – Medela brand are my favorite because they are thicker. I don’t have issues with leaking at all (possibly because I EP so I don’t respond to Ada’s cues for let down), but my nipples are very tender and these pads provide some relief. There are all manner of thinner ones (and reusable ones!) so it’s worth it to test some out if you have issues with leaking or sensitivities.
Now, if you are ever feeling down about pumping (it happens!), I want you to imagine me futzing around in my kitchen arranging pump parts and breast pads to create the image you see above. I bet you feel better already!
Any other exclusive pumpers? Anything you’d add to the list?