I’ve had so many messages and questions about breastfeeding/pumping, that I decided to try and answer them all in a blog post about my experience with it. People have asked me if I’m breastfeeding, how I’m doing it, what brand of pump I like, and what accessories I use – so here you go!
Learning to Pump
Just a couple of hours after my C-Section, with the girls in the NICU and me settled in my new hospital room in the Mother/Baby Unit, a lactation consultant brought me a pumping kit and showed me how to use the pump. It was so weird at first – I have to admit I didn’t really believe it would work. And then when something finally came I was so surprised! Those first few days were tough, but I was so determined to get milk for the babies. Pumping became so important for me, because it was the only way the babies could get my breast milk. It would be weeks before they were able to even start practicing going to the breast themselves, so pumping was really my only option to get them breast milk.
Pumping for NICU/Preemie Babies
I know that breastfeeding can be a sensitive subject – some people can’t, and that’s totally fine. This is just my experience, and everyone’s situation and experience is so different.
I had always planned on breastfeeding my baby. I usually joked about how I’d mostly do it to lose the baby weight ;). Then I found out I was having twins. I still wanted to breastfeed, but decided I’d have to be more flexible with supplementing formula if I wasn’t able to make enough milk or needed other people to be able to help feed more. Now, with babies in the NICU, breastfeeding/pumping has become more important and meaningful to me than I ever imagined it would. In those first few weeks, I was hardly able to touch or hold the babies. The nurses and doctors primarily cared for the babies, and I often felt like I was watching from the sidelines. It was a really weird/hard feeling to deal with. I really felt like pumping and giving the girls my breast milk was something only I could do for the girls, and it was so important for them.
I didn’t know this before, but the doctors and nurses explained to me that breast milk is designed so specifically for YOUR baby. So much so, in fact, that my body knew I had the babies at 30 weeks, and would make milk that had exactly what a 30-week preemie would need. How crazy-cool is that? They stressed to me over and over again how important and beneficial breast milk is for premature babies, and how it was the best medicine we could give the babies to help them get better and continue the development that was supposed to have happened in the womb.
This video explains it well:
Once the girls were ready, they were able to get breast milk through a feeding tube. I remember that first time the nurse let me swab a bit of breast milk in each of their mouths – it was so cool to see them taste it and react. Now months later, they are working on learning to bottle feed and breast feed. We have fallen into a routine of pumping and bringing milk to the hospital, to make sure that they are getting the benefits of breast milk. It’s really important to me to streamline the pumping process and keep my supply up, which means it’s important to have the best pump.
- Piper tasting breast milk – at this time we were very limited with how much we could touch her, and weren’t able to hold her. Seeing her react to the taste of milk was so special for us.
I had heard that the hospital pump would be better than what I would get for home, and it really was awesome. In the hospital and the NICU, I used their Medela brand pump. After I was discharged, my insurance provided a pump that claimed to be hospital grade, but didn’t work nearly as well. I was so frustrated when I started using that pump, feeling like my supply was going down when really the pump was just awful.
I decided that if I’m going to spend about 1/9 of my life pumping for the foreseeable future, I want to have a good pump! I’d been so impressed by Medela, that I wanted to try their hospital-grade personal-use option.
After some research, I chose the Medela Sonata. Here are a few reasons I love it:
- Connects to the MyMedela app to track your pumping sessions, help you meet goals, and track your babies’ weight.
- It’s lightweight and portable, with a rechargeable battery (I seriously feel like I have my freedom back!)
- It’s super quiet, which is great for pumping discreetly or late at night.
- It truly is hospital-performance, unlike that other pump I had that claimed to be but wasn’t ;). I get just as much milk using it as I do when I pump with the hospital pump!
- With your Sonata you get the breast pump with the rechargeable battery, a pumping kit including two sizes of breast shields, four 5 oz, bottles with lids, a cooler that fits those bottles perfectly with an ice pack, two bottle stands, a power adaptor, and a breast pump bag.
To make pumping easier, I highly recommend the following:
- Pumping Bra – It’s a serious game changer! It lets you pump hands free, which means I can spend that time catching up on my phone, blogging, working, writing emails, journaling for the girls, etc.
- Water bottle – I love my S’well bottles that keep my water super cold – I carry a water bottle with me at all times these days! Staying hydrated is one of the things that helps my milk supply the most!
- Steam bags – A quick easy way to sterilize your bottles and pumping kit!
- Extra pumping kit – It’s seriously worth it to get one or two extra pumping kits so that you don’t have to wash yours’ every time. I like having my extra kits washed and ready to go next to my pump so I don’t have to get up before my middle-of-the-night pumping sessions!
- Lanolin – so necessary to protect yourself from sore nipples :/. Trust me, you need this.
I hope this post answers a lot of your questions, and helps those of you trying to choose a pump! Let me know if you still have questions and I’ll do my best to answer :).
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**Full disclosure, this post is sponsored by Medela! But only after I did my own research and sought them out for the Sonata pump ;).