Dear male readers:

It turns out that female breasts (fun bags, jugs, hooters, boobs, bazingas, dirty pillows, etc…) actually serve a purpose and are not solely for your enjoyment. If the idea of breastfeeding squicks you out at all you probably should turn away now, because there won’t be anything for you to see here.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

I’ve always intended to breastfeed…It’s just (in my opinion) the right thing to do. When O was born I tried and tried and tried but the little sucker (or not, really) just wouldn’t latch. On the rare occasion that he did attempt to eat, he’d just go right to sleep. After I spent my time in the hospital having nurses and lactation consultants shoving his face into my boobs practically around the clock with no progress (I guess he’s not a boob man?), we were instructed to take him to the doctor for a weight check two days after we brought him home.

At the doctor appointment, we discovered that he’d lost a little weight and were told to start supplementing formula. Luckily for us, I had gone a little crazy signing up for free samples so we had a few cans at the house already. We went home and I started washing all of the bottles that I had scoffed at when people gave them to us. I was so disappointed that I actually cried a little standing at the sink. I’ve never been a crier, but having a baby does strange things to you.

A friend of mine was kind enough to bring me a manual pump, because I was seriously uncomfortable and I hadn’t totally given up on the idea of breastfeeding yet. We started giving him formula and breastmilk in bottles and suddenly the little stinker decided that he did actually like to eat. At the next doctor appointment, we discovered that he was back to his birth weight and all was right with the world again.

Well, except for one thing.

I still wanted to breastfeed but little O seemed to be doing so well with the bottle that I didn’t want to upset the applecart. I decided to continue pumping and giving him bottles…but I really had no idea what I was getting into. Lucky for me, I had another good friend that not only hooked me up with a sweet electric double pump but sent me loads of info on breastfeeding and pumping. I don’t know what I would have done without her.

Here are some handy tips for anyone that might be toying with the idea of going the exclusive pumping route:

1. Get a good pump. Medela and Ameda are both good brands…I have the Ameda Purely Yours pump and I would definitely recommend it.

2. Have extra pump accessories on hand. You don’t want to be stuck with a torn valve at midnight with no way to pump. Trust me, it isn’t fun for anyone involved… You can buy spare part kits online and at some stores. I would even add them to your baby registry.

3. Get bottles that fit your pump, that way you can pump directly into them. I did use Lansinoh storage bags for a while but those get expensive and sometimes they leak. It’s not fun to watch a 4 oz bag of breastmilk go swirling down the drain after you pumped for 20 minutes to get it. Honestly, since I discovered that I could pump directly into bottles, I’ve never needed storage bags. My kid eats so much I don’t really have enough left over to store in the freezer, anyway.

4. In the beginning, you really should pump every time your kid eats to establish your supply. For me, that meant propping O up in the Boppy pillow next to me and feeding him while I pumped. You’re probably going to feel like all you ever do is pump and feed your kid…and you’ll be right…but it will eventually get better. Once you have a good supply going you might even be able to start eliminating pumping sessions.

4 1/2. When I say every time your kid eats, I mean every time. Yes, you’re going to have to do it during night time feedings, too. I’m sorry, I know it sucks.

5. I typically pump for 20 minutes. You might want to talk to a lactation consultant or your doctor to see what he or she would recommend.

6. I don’t know if this is legit or not, but some women swear by eating oatmeal to help bump up their supply. I really kind of hate oatmeal, but it’s good for you and the baby so I ate it as much as I could stand while I was pregnant and in the early days of pumping.

7. Here are some guidelines for breastmilk storage, courtesy of La Leche League.

8. You’ll need a way to warm bottles that have been in the fridge. I have a bottle warmer at home, and when I’m out and about a cup of steaming water will do the trick just fine. You really only need to take the chill out of it, so if you drip some onto your wrist and can’t feel it you’re good to go.

9. Get a good cooler for when you have to bring bottles with you. I love the Munchkin Cool Wrap bottle bag.

10. Breastfeeding burns calories…even if you’re pumping.  That has to be the second most awesome thing about breastfeeding (first being that it’s awesome for your baby). I dropped every single bit (and then some!) of my baby weight with no effort at all.

Do you have any other questions about pumping or breastfeeding in general? I’m no expert, but I’ve been in the trenches for the last 7 months and I did a lot of fumbling before I found a good routine that works for me. I’d be happy to answer any questions you have. Feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email at willfullydisobedientblog (at) gmail dot com (spammy spammers aren’t going to get me!) if you feel like your question is too personal.

Are you experienced in pumping or breastfeeding? If you have a great tip that I haven’t mentioned, please leave a comment! I’d love to hear about what works for other women.

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