My third baby in 4 years just turned 9 months. It feels like I've been pregnant or nursing for eternity! This stage of life can be depleting, both physically and mentally. All of your extra energy goes toward growing and raising these little human beings who can't fend for themselves.
Our baby is finally sleeping through the night, so it's time to start restoring balance to our home life. I'm back to setting an alarm to wake up before the kids, my husband and I are both working out first thing in the morning, and we're starting to prioritize our marriage again.
Related: My Top 7 Newborn Sleep Tip
In celebration of my 30th birthday and surviving life with 3 kids ages 4 and under, we are taking a much-needed night away from the kids in March. My parents will be visiting, and so generously offered to spend the night with the kids. I think I was already on Google looking for getaway options before we even got off FaceTime, so I guess you could say I'm excited.
The only catch - I'm still exclusively nursing the baby. I have absolutely nothing against formula. We had to supplement with formula for both of my other babies. However, breastfeeding has been going so well this time around, and I'm excited to make it to a year if everything works out. The baby will turn 1 at the end of April, so we have a few months to go.
Related: 9 Awesome Nursing Products
That means I'm going to have to start pumping now to make sure we have enough breastmilk stocked up for a day's worth of bottles. (And lucky me - I get to drag my pump along on a romantic getaway). If you're planning a night away of your own, here are some tips I've picked up over the span of nursing and pumping for 3 kids to build a stash of breastmilk.
(This is for mamas whose supply is already established, and who are looking to pump in between nursing sessions).
1. Give yourself time
If you’re going to be adding a pumping session in between your normal feedings, you want to give yourself plenty of time to build up a freezer stash. The first few days of pumping you likely won’t get very much milk. However, if you consistently pump every day at the same time, you’ll be telling your body to make more. Gradually, you’ll see your supply increase to meet the demand.
2. Pump first thing in the morning
My supply is highest in the morning, I usually pump shortly after the baby’s first feeding of the day. He goes right back to sleep after eating, so I drink some water, have a shake, then pump for 10-15 minutes.
Related: Healthy Foods for Nursing Moms
3. Drink more water
I have found that one of the most important factors in getting more milk out of each pumping session is how hydrated I am. I’m always so parched first thing in the morning, so lately I’ve been downing a glass of lemon water before my body even realizes it’s awake. I also keep water bottles on my bedside table, my desk, and the coffee table, which are all spots I may be pumping or nursing so I can keep myself hydrated while I feed the baby. I aim for 100 ounces of water each day, and that has been working for me.
Related: A Final Review of the MuTu System (getting rid of the "mom pooch")
4. Use lactation cookies
This is by far my favorite tip because it’s giving you permission to eat delicious cookies in the name of nourishing your baby. I’ve been using Café Baby Mommy’s Milk Lactation Cookies. “These cookies provide plenty of whole grains, fiber, iron and amino acids that are a natural remedy to help stimulate and increase milk production. They also provide Omega-3 fatty acids that are necessary for baby's brain development.”
It’s so important to make sure you’re getting enough calories, and that those calories are actually fueling your body and helping your milk supply. I find these cookies to be much easier (and much more delicious) than making myself a bowl of oatmeal because I can grab them on-the-go and eat them one-handed. (Plus have you ever tried to wash out a bowl after eating oatmeal? The worst.) I've definitely been noticing an increase in my pumping sessions since using these!
5. Power pump
If you’re not seeing a lot of milk the first few days, try power pumping. Basically, you pump for 15-20 minutes, rest for 10 minutes (again, chugging water and grabbing a snack if you need to refuel), then pumping for 10 more minutes. Some sources say to do this again, on and off, for an hour. Just the two sessions seemed to be enough for me to increase my supply in a few days, but everyone is different!
6. Organized storage
I won’t go into all of the sanitation and milk storage rules (you can find excellent information on sites like kellymom.com), but I will say that storing your milk in an organized fashion will help once those bags start piling up. Always label each bag with the date so you can make sure to use the oldest milk up first, and try using a freezer bin like this one to corral all of the bags.
7. Collect Every Drop
If you're like me and still leaking through shirts occasionally, especially first thing in the morning, you NEED this magical device to collect breastmilk from your non-nursing side while you're breastfeeding. I get anywhere from an extra 1/2 ounce to almost 2 ounces each day! Every little bit helps, and those 1/2 ounces add up quickly! Get it here!
Related: MuTu System Final Review (to fix the Mummy Tummy)