Exclusively pumping is literally a 24 hour commitment over and above taking care of your newborn, adjusting to motherhood and still having to keep a handle on your home and family. It’s exhausting, and all new moms want a decent nights sleep, so how can you maximize sleep when you are up every 2 to 3 hours for your MOTN pump sessions?
In the first 6 to 12 weeks your breastmilk production is establishing itself and is predominantly based on hormones, but that doesn’t mean we can slack on pump sessions, unfortunately slacking on your schedule in those critical early weeks can damage your chances for success, leading to low supply.
So how do we balance sticking to our schedule and looking after ourselves and getting enough sleep?
1. Be Kind To Yourself
Mothers today are under so much pressure from society to do it all, be kind to yourself and cut yourself some slack, rope in some help for washing bottles, tidying up or cooking a meal.
2. Be Honest.
Sometimes us moms are a little too good at just putting on a smile and carrying on, being honest with your support system on how important providing breastmilk to your baby is to you can sometimes help others understand why you need help. Providing your support system with information and a good understanding of how breastmilk production works and why you need to pump so often can help avoid those sticky situations in the first place.
3. Lower Your Standards
It’s hard for us, I know, but sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to not care about the washing for a day (or two).
4. Inform Yourself.
Knowledge is power and having a good grasp on the ins and outs of how breastmilk production works as well as a good understanding of normal healthy sleeping patterns of a baby, can help you not get frustrated or overwhelmed by well meaning advice, babies and toddlers wake often, it’s normal and beneficial, adopting their schedule can help you maximize sleep in those first few weeks, not to mention get in those all important pumping sessions.
5. Plan Ahead, and Learn to Say NO.
Everyone wants to meet a newborn, and shopping trips are inevitable, so it’s always good to plan ahead, try not to fill your days with activities and outings, if you are lucky enough you may have a good mom friend who knows what you are going through who can provide company without you feeling the need to get changed or put on make up you can get that much needed social interaction (keep that mommy friend close, you have no idea how lucky you are), but if you aren’t feeling up to company you can say NO and you should never feel guilty for that.
Finding a routine for pumping and feeding at night can drastically improve your chances for some extra zzzzz’s.
First of all having extra pump parts and bottles can eliminate the need to get up to wash parts and bottles in the night, keeping it all next to bed along with safe co-sleeping or room sharing with baby can even eliminate the need to get out of bed at all. I will share my nighttime routine which helped me get the most sleep.
I pumped using the Philips Avent manual breastpump, I had 2 Avent pumps as well as 2 cheaper back up pumps, next to my bed I had all my spares, bottles and extra pumps in the sterilizer which I would sterilize after my last pump session before bed.
Typically my last pump was around 10pm, I would feed my baby, pump, wash my pump and sterilize and place the freshly expressed milk next the bed (just on the dresser if it was a cool night or in a cooler bag on the hot summer nights) along with my freshly sterilized pumps and parts.
When my baby woke I would feed, change and place on my lap while I pumped, that pump would go into the Tupperware next to the bed for washing and the next feed on the dresser, I would repeat this throughout the night and each feeding and pumping session took approximately an hour, so I would get 2 hours sleep between each feeding. If you are using a double electric pump you could use a hands free pumping bra and feed and pump simultaneously to further maximize sleep.
MOTN pump sessions won’t last forever and majority of moms are able to drop or extend time between sessions by the 4 month mark without decreasing supply, each individual woman has an individual supply and knowing and understanding your unique breast capacity, magic number and having goals can make the decision to drop MOTN sessions that much easier.