10 Useful Breastfeeding Tools & My Pumping Schedule

This blog post is sponsored by Aeroflow Breastpumps.

Below is a list of breastfeeding tools that I had no idea I was going to need prior to Rowan being born. I think it was way harder to prepare for a baby than I realized…and I quickly found that it was even harder to assume someone would be able to fully prepare me for my breastfeeding journey (if breastfeeding is the route you go – no shame if you don’t!) I felt in a lot of ways like motherhood was a “learn as you go” type of approach…and while I doubt I’ll provide all of the necessary information in this one blog post that a new and expecting mother would find helpful…my hope is that perhaps there might even be one or two things on this list that makes you say…”ahhh, I’m going to remember that…just in case…just in case.” I think the best thing we could possibly do to prepare for our new baby is to at least know what’s out there and what resources we have available to us – then we can make the decisions we need in order to best care for our babes. You can also check out this blog post, How to Get a Free Breast Pump Through Insurance in 5 Simple Steps.

Before I share the list of items I used most frequently during my breastfeeding journey, I want to share what I believe is one of the most important things new and expecting mothers need to know, and that is that insurance should cover the cost of a breast pump! So make sure to look into it. I wasn’t aware of this myself when I first became pregnant – it wasn’t until someone mentioned it to me that I realized I could access one through my insurance provider – who knew? Aeroflow Breastpumps specializes in assisting pregnant and nursing women with getting their breast pump through insurance. They take care of the entire process, from filing the insurance claim to helping mom choose the right breast pump for her lifestyle and shipping the pump right to her door. They value the individual and work to determine exact coverage and benefits based on specific insurance plan so that you get the best breast pump to make your breastfeeding experience a positive one. They take the hassle and confusion out of the process so mom can relax and prepare for her new baby! To get your breast pump from Aeroflow, visit their qualify form to get started! Aeroflow also has this amazing online, comprehensive list of lactation resources and support groups! Click here to browse the directory.

Another thing I found SO very helpful when I started nursing and also pumping milk for Rowan was learning more about the schedules other moms had found worked for them.  Every woman and baby becomes acclimated to a different schedule, however, this was especially helpful in figuring out what was most comfortable for me.

Months 1-2: While on Maternity Leave
Nursed around the clock (what felt like every 30 minutes) using a handy-dandy nipple shield! 🙂

Thoughts on Month 1 & 2:
This had to be the most tired I have ever been in my entire life. Everything felt foreign and scary. Those first few weeks and months are a battle. I’m not sure what else to say, other than there was nothing that could prepare me for it. But you do get through it – and you do come out of it. And life will make sense and feel good soon enough. Time…it heals and it goes fast!

Months 2 – 4: Introduced bottle and started using breast pump, still on maternity leave
6:00 a.m. (or when Rowan woke up) – nursed on both sides and then pumped if need be
6:30 a.m. – Got ready for the day (i.e. tossed some dry shampoo in my hair and put on a new pair of sweatpants)
8:00 a.m. – Nursed on both sides and then pumped remaining milk for a bottle, typically got about 2-3 oz total when I started pumping, was super nerve-racking and made me feel like it wasn’t going to work, but over time, it got better, and I started producing more. Stick to it if you can! Rowan would go down for a nap right after and sleep for about 40-45 minutes (if that).
9:30 a.m. – Rowan wakes, nurse again, both sides, offer bottle that was pumped earlier if he wanted more than what I had available
10:00 a.m. – Bundled him up in the stroller and grabbed the dogs for a walk down our road, he would sleep so good during our walks, the fresh air was magic for him – and me! And the dogs…so we were winning all across the board with long walks
10:30 a.m. – If he was still sleeping from our walk, I’d take a nap myself for 20-30 minutes
11:00 a.m. – I’d pump and get about 2-3 oz
11:30 a.m. – He’d wake up and nurse on both sides, then give him the bottle if he was still hungry (which he almost always was)
1:30 p.m. – Nurse on both sides, feed him the 2-3 oz if he wants it, then napping again
** in the afternoon my milk supply seemed to plummet. I’ve heard about this from many other moms…but it seemed like I’d dip off in the afternoon and would barely pump 2 oz of milk for him – and any mom knows that each ounce counts when you’re pumping! Even though I only got 1-2 ounces I’d still try to get one mid-afternoon pump in.
2:15 p.m. – Pump 1-2 oz
3:00 p.m. Rowan wakes, nurses on both sides, feed him 1-2 oz of a pumped bottle if need be

Thoughts on Month 2 -4: 
Basically, Rowan would nurse, nap, repeat – every two hours or so. His schedule was like this until around 4 months, then he started to stay awake a little longer in between naps, and he started drinking more milk in a sitting which allowed longer time between feedings. I was always afraid I wasn’t going to make enough milk for him during months 2 & 3. He was SO hungry ALL of the time. His weight had dropped when we had left the hospital because he couldn’t latch for a couple of days and so I think that played into it his hangry-ness. But then again, babies are just hungry – period! I felt like I was pumping and working so hard to pull any and all milk for him. When he slept, I waited a little bit to let my milk supply come back and then would pump…then I’d pray he’d sleep so that I could get enough milk to nurse him when he woke. It was a constant battle of timing – would he sleep long enough to let my milk supply come back? I always felt like having some pumped milk would help – and it did! It helped us a lot. And Rowan LOVED the ease of the bottle and would get happy and full when I gave him that 2-3 ounces I had pumped. The thing is, during those early months, babies don’t need a lot of milk at one time – but they need to drink milk OFTEN, which I think scares moms into thinking they won’t/can’t make enough milk. I found it astonishing how my body seemed to figure it out and between nursing and pumping, I managed to give him what he needed and when he needed it. As I said in a past blog post, I always had formula ready if need be. I knew in the back of my mind I could only do my best…and after that, the most important thing was that he was eating and happy.

Months 5-7: Solely pumping milk, back to work full-time, only drinking from the bottle
6:00 – 7:00 a.m.  Wake up before Rowan or when he did, if he wasn’t crying and was just hanging out talking to himself, I’d pump and usually get two 8 ounce bottles during this pumping session.
8:00 a.m. – Our nanny would arrive and take care of Rowan, I’d have bottles in the fridge for him prepared and ready. He’d typically drink milk every 2 hours, and about 6-8 ounces at a time. I worked from home, full time out of a home office. Which made pumping and delivering milk downstairs to our nanny really easy.
11:00 a.m. – Pump, I would typically get a bottle and a half or roughly 10 ounces. Deliver bottles to our nanny.
2:30 p.m.  – Pump again, typically one full bottle or about  6 – 8 ounces. This session always was the session I got less than the others. Deliver bottles to our nanny.
4:45 p.m. – I would pump right before finishing work for the day, roughly 6-8 ounces. Bring bottles downstairs with me.
9-10:00 p.m. – Final pump before bed, would typically get about 8 ounces and store in the fridge for his middle of the night feedings.
(no middle of the night pumping sessions – yahoo!)

Thoughts on months 5-7: 
During these months a lot of things changed and happened. First, I was able to eliminate my middle of the night pumping sessions and depend strictly off of my daily supply. I have mom friends who had to continue to pump through the night in order to have enough milk throughout the day for their baby – you ladies are rockstars! I was grateful to be able to stop pumping at night in order to allow me to sleep more…but I was still getting up at night with Rowan for feedings. He started teething early, around 6 months. Dusty and I had decided early on we wouldn’t do the cry it out method if we didn’t have to. There were definitely nights we let him “fuss it out” which in our mind was different than “crying it out” – he typically could fuss himself to sleep after we went in and gave him some milk and snuggles. He was getting up from months 5-7 about 2x per night. He’d drink about 4 ounces of milk each time he woke up. I’m certain it was a mix of hunger and teething that would wake him. During month 7, we started to introduce solids! By now, pumping was more comfortable and had become more of a pain in the butt if anything. It no longer hurt and I felt that I finally had adopted it as part of my daily routine. It still felt challenging when we wanted to go out and enjoy the day – I still had to bring my pump with to pump in the car (shop the fun gadgets I used for that below)…but all in all. It became a part of my natural day.

Months 8 – 12: Eating solids and weaning from the pump
6:00 – 7:00 a.m.  Wake up before Rowan or when he did, if he wasn’t crying and was just hanging out talking to himself, I’d pump and usually get two 8 ounce bottles during this pumping session.
12:00 p.m. – Pump, I would typically get a bottle and a half or roughly 10 ounces. Deliver bottles to our nanny.
4:45 p.m. – I would pump right before finishing work for the day, roughly 6-8 ounces. Bring bottles downstairs with me.
9-10:00 p.m. – Final pump before bed, would typically get about 8 ounces and store in the fridge for morning.

Thoughts on months 8-12:
By month 12 I knew I was nearing the end of my pumping journey. Rowan was eating solids like a champ and I found that I was storing a lot more milk than he was drinking. This was when I started to contemplate slowly weaning from the pump completely. Instead of cows milk, due to a dairy allergy, we went with Ripple Pea Milk – and he loved it. I felt so relieved when he successfully chugged his first bottle of Ripple Pea Milk. I knew that I could start to truly work toward weaning at this time. Rowan also started sleeping through the night again around 11 months. We were thrilled…!

Months 12-13: Almost to the end!
6:00 – 7:00 a.m.  Wake up before Rowan or when he did, if he wasn’t crying and was just hanging out talking to himself, I’d pump and usually get two 8 ounce bottles during this pumping session.
2:00 p.m. – Pump, I would typically get a bottle and a half or roughly 10 ounces.
9-10:00 p.m. – Final pump before bed, would typically get about 8 ounces and store in the fridge.

Months 14-15: The last hurrah!
 6:00 – 7:00 a.m.  Wake up before Rowan or when he did, if he wasn’t crying and was just hanging out talking to himself, I’d pump and usually get two 8 ounce bottles during this pumping session.
9-10:00 p.m. – Final pump before bed, would typically get about 4 ounces and store in the fridge.

Eventually, I cut out my night pump, and then my morning pump. There was some slight discomfort at first, and I often had to just pump a small amount to ease the discomfort. After a week or two, my body regulated and returned to normal.

Thoughts on the final months:
During these final months, I went through a lot of hormonal ups and downs. Nausea, crazy hunger, some unexplained emotions, and sadness. Weaning – whether it’s from the pump or from nursing, is tough! I didn’t start feeling more myself until about Rowan was 16 months old and I had stopped pumping completely. It took about two months for my body to feel “normal” again. It was also bittersweet to know that the end had come – for us, where I would no longer be feeding my baby from my body. My body was now my own again. It would no longer be tethered to Rowan in some fashion. This was both emotionally difficult and physically difficult. Ther isn’t an easy way to completely stop breastfeeding. For me, it meant a little bit of

Nipple Shield
I had no idea that these things even existed on the face of this earth. And I found out at the last minute that they did by a God-send of a nurse who saw the pain in eyes after hours and hours of struggling to get Rowan to nurse in the hospital before going home. Many women may not need a nipple shield at all – and it’s a good idea to try without first. It ended up being what Rowan wanted and needed. We used one well into the early months of his life. Nipple shield’s help with women who experience a lot of pain while breastfeeding and/or have flat or inverted nipples. I didn’t have a problem with any of these things…it was just Rowan preferring a nipple shield. I used the Medela brand in a size medium.

Medela Breast Pump
I used this breast pump by Medela. I know there a lot of options out there – I hadn’t tried any others – but for the most part, this one did the trick for me. I really appreciated the different levels it has and the easy to clean parts.

Lansinoh Breastfeeding Salve
I really didn’t get it…or why this stuff was important…until the 3rd day in of feeding Rowan. It is definitely a bit uncomfortable when you get started. Stock up on some nipple creams – this one was my favorite. Also, it got so bad for me that my OB ordered me some “Magic Nipple Cream” –  I could only get it from the pharmacist…it was some concoction that was amazing. If you can’t get your hands on some magic nipple cream, I suggest getting some breastfeeding salve!

Breast Pump Car Adapter
This little thing was a huge lifesaver. It allowed me to hook my Medela pump right up to the phone charging port in the car. It was a little slower than using an actual outlet. But worked just fine!

Freemie (handsfree collection cups – just stick them in your bra and pump away!)
This contraption is going to get a blog post/feature all on its own…it’s amazing. If you’re a mom who travels a lot for work and you need to pump in secret – or if you just loathe stripping down to your bare chest to pump. I HIGHLY suggest and recommend you check out this beautiful piece of machinery. More info to come soon! But trust me, I loved it and used it often. Also, it connected right to my Medela pump.

Breast Pads
I remember not wanting to use breast pads – that was until one morning I woke up and thought I had wet the bed. I was sleeping in a puddle of breast milk…with a soaked shirt! Breast pads were my best friend…for quite a while. Especially going out in public post-partum.

Milk Storage Bags
There came a point during my pumping journey when I was making a little more milk than Rowan wanted or needed. We started storing the milk in a deep freezer in our garage.

Bravado Nursing Bra
This nursing bra is SOO comfortable. It was definitely the best and most comfortable nursing bra I’ve owned. I have two pairs of black, one white, and one nude.

Handsfree Pumping Bra
This pumping bra is the best. I went back to work around the time Rowan was 3 months old. At the time, I was pumping every two hours during the day. It took a lot of effort to hold both bottles while pumping and since multi-tasker is my middle name…I knew that continuing to hold the milk bottles while pumping was just unnecessary and a waste of time. I bought this handsfree pumping bra and had it rushed delivered to our home. It saved the day -and allowed me to multitask my way through the day.

Hand Pump
When I first started pumping – I used this handheld pump. It helped me get used to the feeling of a pump…and prepared me for the electric pump (made it less scary) – although, it really wasn’t scary at all. But anyone that’s about to attach a machine to their nipples would be leary. So if you want to test things out at your own speed, this pump was wonderful! It also came in handy when I needed to alleviate discomfort during car rides and when we were out and about and Rowan was still nursing or when I couldn’t get to my breast pump right away.

Breast Milk Cooler Set
Once your post-partum self-finds a routine and you realize you can step outside and back into society without losing your mind…I realized quickly that given travel time and outing time with Rowan…I needed to bring milk along. At some point in his life, we went to straight pumped milk, so that meant that I needed to bring pumped milk with me everywhere we went. This little cooler set was a lifesaver and was really great. It kept his milk cold – and allowed me to store any milk that I pumped while we were out.

This blog post was in collaboration with Aeroflow, thank you for supporting the brands that I work with! All thoughts and opinions are truthful and my own.

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