Pumping was never my first choice (obviously) and I actually never knew long term pumping was possible at all in the beginning, I was told countless times that my milk would dry up within a few weeks and my baby would eventually be put onto formula if I wasn’t able to latch her.

Well, here I am, rounding the corner in my final stretch to 3 years of exclusive pumping for my daughter.

Here are some of the things that helped me:

– Pumping every 2 hours round the clock for a minimum of 20 minutes:

I firmly believe this is the key to my success, I was able to establish a strong, healthy supply through “supply and demand”, the more I pumped, the more milk I made. It was hard, yes. It was a little overwhelming, yes. It was totally worth it, HELL YES!
(Just remember to pump for an additional 5 minutes after the last drop of milk to signal your body to make more milk)

– Fluids, Fluids, Fluids:

I found drinking more nutritious beverages, like fruit juice, smoothies and vitamin enriched health drinks together with my usual 3 liters of water daily, helped my supply better than when I drank ONLY water during the day. I would drink my usual 3 liters of water with additional nutritious fluids. (Fizzy drinks, coffee and tea NOT included)

– You Don’t Need A Pimped-Out Pump:

Pumps are expensive, even the manual pumps fetch a pretty penny, but there really is no need for a top of the range expensive double electric pump in order to successfully pump for an extended period of time. If you really want a nice, double electric to speed things up, go ahead and get’em girl, but I have been using a small, good quality manual pump for almost 3 years and I pump for less duration than some of my “electric” counterparts and still have a pretty good yield per session. The price of your pump does not guarantee your success!!!

– Feed Your Baby And NOT Your Freezer:

So, so many times I see moms breaking their backs trying to build up a freezer stash so they can be done with pumping sooner, if you relax a little and enjoy the ride and focus on only feeding your baby you eventually get to a point where your able to comfortably feed both, I only started building a freezer stash at around 2 and a half years and have been fortunate enough to donate the majority of that milk.

– Eat Like A Piggy:

Food is just as important as fluids and restricting your diet will only end up in decreased supply and your body may actually hold onto fat as a security in order to make milk.
A well balanced, healthy diet is optimal, and everything in moderation.

– Move It, Move It:

I found pumping on one side until the milk flow slowed down and then moving across to the other in the first few minutes of pumping to be really helpful, I would also recommend breast compressions and moving, adjusting and slowing down suction during a session to stimulate the different milk ducts to produce more milk. Don’t forget to be seated comfortably and don’t hunch over.

– Supply Boosters:

Oatmeal actually works, trust me, I did my own experiment and the best brand is Tiger Brand Instant Oats, Apple and Cinnamon flavour (the light green packs). If you are gluten intolerant then try and find natural unprocessed rolled oats, you can find the gluten free range at Dischem and most health stores.
Almond milk, this also seems to work, it tastes like crap, but it does make a difference.
Mothers Milk Tea, this one seems like a marketing gimmick to me, it did squat for my supply, just left a bad taste in my mouth, literally!
Brewers Yeast and Blessed Thistle, kind of helped, but not majorly and gave my daughter hectic gas.
Eglynol and Esperide, they say esperide is the same as eglynol, just the generic, but from my experience they are vastly different, for one esperide is cheaper (and you get what you pay for), it causes aggression in some women, and it doesn’t help supply as much as eglynol.
Sports Drinks, these actually do work, I found powerade better than energade but it gets expensive.

– Stress and Sleep:

Stress was a bugger for me, it knocked my supply every time, I found meditation and deep breathing helpful during seriously stressful times.
Sleep actually never affected my supply, at one stage I was averaging 3 hours a night for months on end and my supply never dipped, unless of course I started stressing about lack of sleep and my daughters sleep habits.

– When Supply Tanks, “Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming”:

I have been through MONTHS of barely making enough for a bottle that my daughter would drink right then and there, I had an empty freezer and fridge and was relying on pumping a bottle as she needed, I “tried” not to stress and just pushed through and eventually my supply boosted again and I was back to having 5 or 6 feeds available in the fridge at any given time. Just like your daily intake of calories and fluids varies, so will your output, one day you may be able to make loads of milk and the next your down to barely a few drops a session, don’t feel discouraged, just “keep on swimming” and never quit on a bad day.

– Washing and Sterilizing:

The bane of my existence, this I could do without. I tried the whole rinsing my pump and storing in a ziplock bag in the fridge but every time a coconut I ended up with thrush, so I had to, and still have to, wash and sterilize after every single session.

– Accept it:

The first year and a half were terrible for me, I mourned the loss of breastfeeding, I hated pumping, I loathed it, but one day I just accepted that this is how I was going to be feeding my child, I gave into it and accepted pumping as my breastfeeding journey, I made it special, I took pride in it. It got so much easier after that.

– Relax:

Take things as they come and never quit on a bad day, take it session by session if you have to, but try to enjoy it, its obviously not going to last to forever, this is just a temporary stage in your journey, breathe, take it all in, be proud and relax.

– Believe In Yourself:

Sometimes we are out greatest critics, and what you say to yourself and what you believe does impact your abilities, believe in your body, believe in your milk, believe in YOU.

– Do Your Own Research:

Speak to loads of different people, read up on the benefits of breastmilk and trust your gut. Everyone is different so don’t blindly follow anyone elses advice, just like with anything in parenting you need to decide what best suits you and your situation. Take whatever is relevant to you and leave the rest.

These are only a few things that I found to be helpful or important while on my journey, I hope something here helps another mother just starting out.
No one will ever understand YOUR journey, take pride in it, believe in yourself and let that determined spirit shine bright.

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