You probably already know that the worst thing about being an Expressing Mumma is the time it takes!!!
There are not enough hours in the day as it is to look after a baby let alone yourself, so to lose a few hours expressing and making milk on top of that load, can feel insane!!!!!So good on you! You’re doing a great job! You now know what it would be like to feed twins! (Just without double the nappies). And if you are a mother of multiple babies and you express, you seriously deserve an award!!!
I’m now going to share with you some things that made my expressing journey a little easier and I hope they can help make yours a little easier too.
1) If you are serious about expressing invest in a good pump. Some councils and hospitals lend and hire out pumps, so make sure you ask around if you don’t want to purchase one. I purchased a double ELECTRIC pump to save time.
2) Buy extra pumping extensions/ parts, bottles, etc. I now have four shields, connectors and attachments and that means that I am only sterilising equipment once to twice a day, not after every feed or pump. This has been a huge time saver for me. It has also been great when I have gone away or been on long trips- I know that I have back-up pumps and bottles and don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to clean them.
3) Double pump– Definitely get a double pump. Why do single when you can double! I use the double each morning and sometimes throughout the day. As mentioned above I use single pumping if I want to get more out of my expressing equipment.
4) Ask for help– My fabulous husband feeds bubs her bottle at least once a day while I pump next to him. It certainly saves time and he loves bonding with her. There may be a friend or family member who is willing to help out.
5) Try to stick to a routine. Once you are in the swing of things, try to get a bit of a pumping schedule happening. I now pump 5 times a day. I do my first pump the moment I hear her stirring in the morning and try to have it ready before she fully wakes. I also pump double at this time so her following feed is ready. I then do another pump late morning, mid afternoon, around dinner time, then again before I go to bed at night around 10pm (This also helps to soften your breasts before you sleep or you can wake up feeling very engorged and in pain). One time when my milk was low I found waking up and pumping once in the middle of the night (2 or 3 am) also helped to boost my supply. I will occasionally do this if I feel my milk is not as much as I would like it to be.
6) Buy a pumping bra. I brought one and used it a few times, however, I find wearing a crop top or tight singlet helps to hold the connectors/ extensions in place and I can move around and complete simple jobs or sit near bubs and play.
7) Breast Pads– I think whether you are pumping or breast feeding, these things are great. I carry a few extra in my handbag and nappy bag.
8) White cloth nappies/ burping cloths– These are the best. Not just for feeding baby but wiping yourself after you express.
9) If bubs is asleep or safe and happy near you, treat pumping time as time for you! I made this website during some of my pumping sessions. I have also relaxed and read some online stories, made lots of phone calls, written thank you baby notes, read a magazine, prepared dinner, ironed, painted my nails, taken an online course, etc. Your time is valuable, you have a goal to make milk so why not achieve a few other things while you do it, or just chill out and watch some television. When you are doing something else- expressing time flies!!! ‘Orange is the New Black’ was finished in no time during pumping and feeding sessions.
10) Invest in a good sterilizer. I have more than one. I have a great electronic one that a good friend gave me and I also have a microwave one. This one stays in the car, so whenever I am out I know I can stay longer if I like. My Mum also brought one to keep at her house. This is great as I know when we go there I don’t have to think about packing washing equipment.
11) Try to stay one expressed bottle ahead or have a backup in the fridge. The Australian Breastfeeding Association website has recommendations on the storage of breast milk. I find it is useful to always have a spare bottle of milk handy, because you don’t know what mood baby is in and you don’t want to be in a made scramble to make milk.
12) Give your baby lots of cuddles!!!
13) Be upfront. I am the worst at this one, but it does help if you can be upfront with people. When you have visitors tell them you need to express now, etc. There is no point being polite if they overstay their welcome as you will end up with an upset, hungry baby and it can stress you out, especially in those first few weeks.
14) I have found a warm shower, massaging (my breasts towards the nipple), or pumping more frequently helps when you find yourself with sore, engorged breasts or little breast lumps.
15) Remember it is not a job that you will do forever. They are only a baby for such a small amount of time. You will already notice how much your baby has changed. So make sure you enjoy it!! Take it all in!!! It is only for a short amount of time in the bigger picture and you are helping to give your baby the best start to life.
16) Hand Sanitizer– I recommend carrying this everywhere (Handbag, pram, nappy bag, car, have it around the house, etc.). If you are dealing with bottles, teats, etc., you want to ensure your hands are as clean as can be when assembling parts as you are not always around running water.
17) Hand Cream– washing your hands frequently can lead to dry skin so invest in a good hand cream and keep some in your hand bag.
18) Reward yourself! As I keep saying… expressing is hard work. Just being a Mum is a huge job so do something for yourself that makes you happy. You have earned it. It might just be sitting having a cuppa, spending a few extra minutes in the shower while a family member watches Bub. But make sure you take time out and if that feels too hard then at least make sure you tell yourself that you are doing an amazing job for your baby!!