Two things were important to me when I had my first baby: breastfeeding (if I was able) and continuing my career. I really love working, which I know is not the case for all moms. It was a priority for me, though, to be able to provide breastmilk for my baby in addition to thriving at my job. I tend to be a “both/and” rather than an “either/or” person.
I have two kids who are about 20 months apart. I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding for close to three years. My pregnancies, labor and deliveries, and breastfeeding journeys have been completely different between my two kids.
No two journeys are the same
Not even my own two journeys are alike when it comes to breastfeeding and pumping for my kids. I want to share my honest (even a little gross) experience in hopes that other mothers don’t feel alone, OR that soon-to-be mothers can have someone tell them their experience. So, if a peek into pumping is not your thing, I’d close this blog window 🙂
Kid #1: I opted for the rechargeable Spectra S1 breast pump.
Pros: You don’t have to have an outlet. This was a game-changer for me, especially for work, conferences, or evening events away from the baby.
Cons: It’s not discrete. I used to carry all my supplies around in a canvas tote. It was definitely an unorganized mess, but it held everything I needed. I do recommend to all moms to get themselves a hands-free pumping bra. This is the one I bought. I found that wearing this actually helped me to get more milk from my pumping sessions. Let’s be real, it also helped me to fire off a few emails during my 15-minute milk-making sessions.
Kid #2: I used the same pump as last time, I just bought new bottles and attachments.
A few extra things I opted for this go-round:
Breast pump tote/work bag: I like this one. If I could do it again, I would have opted for a backpack version, but this can hold my laptop, pump supplies, lunch, etc. I traveled for work using this as my carry-on item, and it was great.
Madela Quick Clean Wipes: big fan. These are perfect for when you are on the go and don’t have a sink and soap available to you. Highly recommend.
Extra bottles: These are great! I use them when I am pumping at work. I pump directly into them, put a lid on them, and when they need to be used for daycare, you can just pop a bottle nipple on top. Love it.
Milk storage bags: I have not found that one brand is more superior to the other. Just don’t throw your milk around, and you should be good to go. If you plan to store extra milk in your freezer, just make sure you have a permanent marker to mark the date on the bags.
There are a few items here and there that other moms might prefer, but these have been my go-to.
Nope, not a repeat of the whole section above. When I had my first baby, she would have very long feedings. She liked to nurse, was hardly ever distracted, and would eat a LOT (hello, 95th percentile in weight).
When I had my second, this was not the case. At all. He prefers to eat little but often, which was very different for me.
Kid #1: Pumping at work was a little harder for me. I would pump for a minimum of 15 minutes, 3 times a day. I would produce just enough milk to send to daycare the next day. I had maybe four extra bags of milk in our freezer storage for the entire 10 months she breastfed. I’ll never forget knocking over half a bottle of milk on my desk and just crying. Whoever said you shouldn’t cry over spilled milk has never pumped at work before.
Kid #2: My supply for my 2nd is considerably higher than my first, so much so that I make an entire additional bottle when I pump at work. For my second, I pump for 8-10 minutes either 2 or 3 times per day.
While I am grateful for an abundant supply, I don’t love the constant rotation of nursing pads, the massive growth of my breasts to hold all that milk, and the constant flow of burp cloths and towels that go hand-in-hand with pumping/nursing sessions. I am almost certain that I smell like milk throughout the entirety of the day.
As I mentioned, no two experiences are the same.
Moms, pumping is not always easy. Sometimes, just a few drops is a very big deal. Sometimes you’re covered in milk feeling like a fire hydrant and are begging for it to stop. Though everyone may have different feelings, opinions (most very strong ones) about feeding your infants, remember that one thing remains true: we all want the best for our kids. Sometimes, that solution will look different for others than it would for ourselves.
To the pumping mamas, don’t worry. This is not forever. You are strong. You are selfless. You are more than milk-making.