Exclusive Pumping

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Episode Transcript

February 26, 2021

Exclusive pumping... is it for me?!

This is Maureen Feral and Heather O’Neal and this is The Milk Minute. We’re midwives and lactation professionals bringing you the most up-to-date evidence for all things lactation. So you can feel more confident about feeding your baby, body positivity, relationships and mental health. Plus, we laugh a little, or a lot along the way.

So join us for another episode. Welcome to another episode of The Milk Minute. Today we’re going to talk all about exclusive pumping because y’all are warriors and you deserve an episode all to yourself. We’re going to take a listener question, special edition. We have a firsthand account I really want to read to you today. And then after that, Awards in The Alcove. Yep. Stick around to the end because you might be the one getting the award today.

This ad is sponsored by Breastfeeding for Busy Moms. Heather here, did you know that I own a business called Breastfeeding for Busy Moms? I wanted to let you know that you can feed your baby in a way that works for you. My online breastfeeding classes can help you prepare, troubleshoot and give you the confidence you need to have a smooth breastfeeding journey. I’m always sure to include actionable ways your partner can help you in order to avoid those devastating unmet expectations arguments. If you’re the kind of person that loves having personalized support, you can take advantage of my open office hours every other week for Breastfeeding for Busy Moms students. I never leave my people hanging. If you need more than a group support chat, my students also get 25% off private consults. So pop on over to Breastfeeding for Busy Moms and prepare the best way you can. I’ll see you in class. And the link is in the show notes.

Today’s question comes from Kara and Kara asks if we have any tips for her, because she has a preemie and had to resort to exclusive pumping because breastfeeding took too much energy out of baby. Oh, that’s really tough. It’s really hard when you have providers, like your infants providers, that are telling you that your baby is burning too many calories to actually sustain a feeding.

And that can be a really scary time. So first of all, if you’re in that situation, you’re not alone. And really it’s just a hump that you need to get over because baby grows every single day. Yeah, for the most part, it’s just temporary and it’s okay. It’s not something that you did wrong. It’s not your fault.

Um, and it’s really common. Oh yeah. It’s super common. I mean, your baby comes out completely primal, you know, only with these reflexes that are only going to get nurtured as long as they’re being used. And if they’re not able to use them, of course, it’s going to take them a little bit longer to learn. Yeah. So my best advice for you is if you haven’t done this already, um, make sure your pump flanges are sized properly. All your equipment’s new and functional. Right. And you’re going to want to pump at least every two hours, especially at night, even. I mean, you can push it to three at night, but make sure you’re still waking up to pump at night.

And, you know, with that being said, please initiate pumping within the first two hours after birth. I mean, I know that sometimes when you’re in a situation where you have a baby that goes to the NICU, you might also be compromised in some way, like not able to be awake even, but if you have a supportive partner and you have a plan going into your delivery and you know that you need to initiate pumping, your partner can even help you with that.

I mean, the goal of that particular pumping session is not to get volume. It’s to stimulate and let your body know that it’s go time. And if you don’t do it soon, your body gets confused and then it’s an even more uphill battle. Yeah. Yeah. So just get real consistent with that pumping. Um, If you’re having trouble with the first couple of pumping sessions, you know, don’t say, Oh, my body just doesn’t respond to a pump. There’s a lot that you can do about that. We have a couple of really good episodes about getting the most from your pumping session. So go back and listen to those and just keep asking every day, “would you mind if I had baby suck after a feed?” Right? Sometimes once they’ve had a full feed, the nursing staff will say sure, five or 10 minutes, whatever, just to keep baby like, practiced with that.

Well, and if baby is able, definitely do as much skin to skin as is allowed in the NICU environment that you’re in. And then don’t forget that every two hours does mean around the clock. Those nighttime pumping sessions do make a big difference. So I know it sucks. Um, there’s a lot of really great NICU support out there for parents. So if you’re in that situation, please reach out. We’ll put a couple for you in the show notes. Yeah. And thanks so much for your question, Kara.

Let’s take a quick break to thank our sponsor, Aeroflow. Aeroflow is your one-stop shop to get the most popular breast pumps and accessories through your insurance. So don’t let your insurance go to waste. Why don’t you let Aeroflow do all the dirty work for you? You never have to call your insurance when you use Aeroflow and they remind you when you’re eligible for free replacement parts. Yep. So when you’re tired in your postpartum period, and you’re wondering why your pump isn’t working as well. You might get a text says, did you know you need replacement parts? And you say, I did not know that. Right? You push a button and boom, they show up at your door. Thanks, Aeroflow. Thank you so much. Go ahead and check out the link to Aeroflow in our show notes and order your pump through them.

We have a special firsthand account of an exclusive pumper because I really want you all to feel like you’re not alone. And she really does a great job of detailing how it made her feel, the things that she had to go through, and we just really wanted to highlight for you why this is so important to address.

Yeah, I’m really excited to read this. This is from my friend, Laura, who I actually had the privilege of attending her birth some years ago when I was pregnant with my son. And we’ve been friends a very long time. So, I’m so happy to have this account because I really know how much she struggled through this journey.

Okay. “My name is Laura, and here’s the story of being an exclusive pumper for almost 18 months. Whew. As long ago. Yeah, my son, was born on a very warm winter day, February 8th, 2015. After about 21 hours of labor at home, baby came earth side. He was fierce and cried loudly and would literally scream at any attempt to get him to latch.

After three days of hardly any consistent latching, I went to a breastfeeding counselor who was also a chiropractor. He was given an adjustment and I was told by the breastfeeding counselor to immediately give him a bottle as he had lost so much weight from birth because he had not eaten. I was scared, freaked out, felt like I starved my baby.

I immediately gave him a bottle and continued to try to get him to latch. I used a nipple shield, a supplemental nurser, and began pumping with my really crappy pump. I started getting support from Le Leche League and eventually found a free lactation counselor through my women’s health clinic. I learned he had a small lip tie and began my search to get that revised.

Eventually I found an orthodontist who was very breastfeeding friendly, performed the laser surgery. So at six weeks, we thought we were on track to get this down. I had an LC, the SNS pumped every three hours, power pumped, hardly slept, but my postpartum depression was through the roof. I took him to an OT where we practice suck training methods and I had a low supply.

I don’t feel like I ever responded to the pump. And I was only making about eight ounces a day. I even tried domperidone to increase my supply. I kept trying to get him to latch for almost nine months. I pumped almost every three hours for forever. And eventually when I realized my supply was never going to get past that eight ounce a day, I moved to pumping six to five to four times a day, occasionally throwing in a power pump.

When I was pumping, I developed scaly crusty, painful nipples no one could explain. Even LC’s, don’t know everything about pumping. Then I had a clog. Well, it turns out it was a cyst. I had the puss sucked from it, ended up going to the doctors to get it surgically drained and had a drainage tube for almost a week.

But I still kept pumping. However, this put a damper on getting my son to latch. I felt like I lost the freedom of just being able to go anywhere with my baby, because I was constantly bringing this pump with me everywhere. I did soon realize I gave zero fucks and pretty much pumped wherever I was. My favorite was pumping in the car because baby’s in the car seat.

Driving is kind of wasted time. I loved any drive that was at least 20 minutes long. And longer drives I would just power pump. I cut holes in a sports bra to make my own pumping bra, joined support groups and donor milk groups. My sweet baby had donor milk from 15 different mothers. My favorite Facebook group for support, and my sanity is called Fancy Pumpers.

They’re great and I encourage everyone to join their page. Sadly, I never got to nurse my baby and it broke me in a lot of ways for a long time. I however, know more than I thought it was possible to know about breastfeeding now. I just wish I had known all of those things before I had the baby because troubleshooting and learning and running around to appointments postpartum sucked big time.

Finally, at 17 and a half months, I realized my freedom and my sanity was more important for my baby than four to six ounces of milk a day, so I hung up the pump. I still believe if I had had an LC from the beginning who recommended a shield and an SNS and never introduced the bottle, my outcome may have been different, but here’s to being mommas and feeding our babies the best way we can.”

Damn, yeah, Laura had a rough fucking time. That, okay, couple things. So, first of all, she’s amazing. But second of all, that is what happens when you feel compelled to persevere, no matter what, but still don’t have any new tricks up your sleeve. And it can feel like prison. You’re in like pumping prison.

Or even if you have a nipple injury and you just keep feeding through it because it’s like, the feed never ends. Like by the time you finish one feed, it’s time to start another one. And you never get a minute to like, get yourself together. To call somebody to look up the reason why, or to figure out how to adjust it.

And I think a lot of our problem is our society and the way we live and we don’t have a group of women around us who can literally look at you and be like, Oh, position your baby different. Like from the beginning. Right. I mean, we don’t even have most of us don’t live with extended family, so we don’t even have anybody else to do any of the things.

Right? You know what Laura was describing. She did all in addition to, you know, Raising her stepson, to doing the laundry, to keeping the house clean, to working. I mean, you know, I think she was a substitute teacher at this time, too. It’s just like how much easier would problem-solving and the latch and the pump and everything have been if, if there was just anybody else.

And it’s timely. Like you, if you don’t get it in the beginning, like she said, you know, if you don’t have prenatal education, prenatal, breastfeeding education, specifically, if you don’t already have the numbers on your fridge of who you’re going to call when there’s a hiccup in your breastfeeding journey, not if, there is probably going to be a hiccup at some point, because we are human bodies. We are not robots. And your baby is also a human body and there’s just so many variables and it just happens. So like knowing who to call ahead of time. So you don’t end up at three o’clock in the morning using Dr. Google. I mean, my God, and then you, you scroll for 15 minutes and you can’t find what you’re looking for.

And then you’re just like, screw it. I’ll just pump. Yeah, and you’re pumping, your scaly nipples and you know, it’s just not supposed to be that way. And it is for so many people. Yeah. And you know, I, we, we really try to stress prenatal education. Like we have a bunch of episodes kind of geared toward those pregnant people out there who are listening, because hope is not a plan. No hope is not a plan. And you know, we we’d say it in kind of a funny way, but it’s like, no, seriously, like it’s really, it’s not. And my breastfeeding classes that I do with people, I really encourage pregnant people and their support person to take together because two is better than one when it comes to exhaustion and postpartum and doing something brand new.

Yeah. I mean, it’s just like when I give discharge instructions after birth, I never give them only to the person who just had a baby. Right, because I don’t expect them to remember anything. They’re looking, they’re blinking. There’s nothing going in there. Anybody in the house who’s going to be there for the next few days, I gather them all together. Yes. Because they’re the ones who are going to say, “Hey, like I know you just handed me this pad to put in the trash. It’s like really soaked, you know, your midwife said that wasn’t good.” Right. You know, and they’re going to be the ones who hopefully, if they have the same knowledge as you at 2:00 AM, when baby is fussy and won’t latch, they’re going to say, “Hey, you know, in that breastfeeding class, we took they mentioned this.” Yeah. And also the other thing is when I have pregnant students that take the class and they come to my open office hours, I develop a relationship with them and naturally, barriers start to come out like, “Oh, I’m on Zoloft. Is that something I can breastfeed with?” And that’s something we can plan for ahead of time.

Or my mother-in-law is going to be staying with us. And she formula fed and she keeps mentioning giving the baby a bottle. And so we can create a plan before your baby even comes out and build our relationship together. And that way, when your baby pops out, we’re ready to go. Like, I know you, I know your partner, I know the problems. And we can really tackle the root cause of the current issue without having to go back and do all that extra work. So that’s my diatribe for prenatal breastfeeding education.

Now, I want to point out, obviously, exclusive pumping was not Laura’s plan. And I think a lot of people end up there when it isn’t their plan. But, there are a lot of people who just plan that from the beginning. And I think our advice is still applicable. You still need to learn and have a plan beforehand, right? Because if the first time that you need to pump is the first time you’ve taken your pump out of the box, you’re going to be like, “Oh shit, like, wait, there’s a setting. And I dunno what setting to use. And these flanges don’t work”, you know?

And, and so you still want to be prepared. You want to look at that stuff prenatally and make sure you have the right flange size. Make sure you understand what the pump settings actually mean on your pump, you know. Make sure you have a plan for replacing parts. Like, do they have them at Walmart? Do they have them at Target? Do you have to order them off Amazon? Um, you know, especially this is like the most important thing for exclusive pumpers, that you just write on your calendar when you need replace parts. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Or get your pump through Aeroflow or Edge Park. And we can put that in the show notes because they’ll text you when your insurance will pay for new parts. Yeah. And you’re like, Oh, okay. And all you have to do is type back “yes” in a text message and then they show up at your door. That sounds really nice. I wish I wish I could do that for all the baby things. Yeah, no doubt.

And then also the other thing is if you’re going to be exclusively pumping, you need to know the top three things that you are at risk for. Because when they start to happen, you’ll recognize it immediately and take early action so it doesn’t turn into an absolute shit show. Yeah, let’s go through them. Yeah. So first and foremost, clogged milk ducts. So you are just much more at risk for clogged milk ducts. Pumps are built to mimic a baby’s feeding pattern, but they are not a baby. A baby is going to remove milk much better than a pump.

And also a lot of times, much more frequently, you know, you’re probably going to be pumping more on a schedule than on demand. Now we’ll talk about that in a minute. Okay. So, so we’ll address that, but you are much more at risk for getting clogs because you’re more likely to pump every three hours on the dot, because it’s easier to schedule your life that way.

And it gives your milk a little bit more time to separate. It gives that fat more time to congeal and also your milk ducts tend to just kind of hang on to it more when there’s no baby sucking forcefully. And so clogged milk ducts tend to happen. And also I think it happens because a lot of people use the incorrect flange size and don’t replace their pumping parts.

Yeah. Uh, and also you might not get that rush of oxytocin from pumping. And that is really what helps us get that thicker milk out is when the muscle cells around your ducks squeeze it out. So, you know, some people get great letdowns off pumping. Some people have to work their asses off for it. Yeah.

There’s a lot more manual massage. There’s a lot more leaning over like trying to get gravity to help you. And pumping in the same position every time is going to also contribute to getting those clogs. You know, if you have your pumping chair, which I get, you definitely want your pumping station, right? Because you have all the things you have to remember every time. But if you sit in the same exact position every time. And you have any pressure on certain parts of your breasts or your just, you know, like when you, when you feed a baby in different positions, they’re going to be emptying different ducts a little bit differently.

But you can’t really like, put your flange in a different position. You just kind of have to do, you can try, you can massage, you can move your body, but it takes more effort. Yes. It definitely takes more effort. So I would say clogs is definitely number one, which leads to number two, which is mastitis. Um, and that’s for a couple of reasons.

So when you get a clogged milk duct, it gets backed up pretty quickly. Cause your milk cells are continuously making milk and there’s sugar back there. And any bacteria that is in there either from your baby’s mouth or a nipple injury or something, you are just much more at risk for that bacteria feeding off the sugar and it getting bad pretty quick.

So just being really alert to that, early treatment of that. And if it’s recurrent, taking things like sunflower lecithin and you know, just being much more proactive about it and just like having a pump in the situation in general increases the chance of bacteria getting introduced. Because you know, it’s not like this live system that has an active, healthy microbiome, you know, you really have to like clean it properly and sterilize it and blah, blah, blah.

And it’s really hard to do that all the time correctly at 3:00 AM. And then I would say the number three, and there are other things, but these are just my top three is low supply. Low supply just tends to happen. So, you know, kind of wrap your head around it. If you are choosing to exclusively pump, that is fine.

You’re absolutely entitled to do whatever the hell you want to do. But low supply is a risk for the very same reason Maureen just said. I mean, the pump does not have a tongue. Um, you’re not feeling emotionally connected to your pump. Your brain can be tricked to a point, but we still have this darn conscious mindset you know, that’s still aware of what’s going on and that this is not a baby. And we also tend to have a really, um, strong negative loop with our pump. Yeah. Like I don’t, I don’t really know people who say, like, I love pumping and I love my pump. I mean, if you’re out there, heck yeah. I’m so glad you feel that way.

But most of the time I hear, I hate pumping. I dread pumping. I want to throw this pump out the fucking car window. Yeah. And then the more you do it, I mean, it’s just, you’re sending so much negative vibes and it really, then it increases your stress hormones which blocks the oxytocin. It had to be oxytocin, right? Couldn’t it have just been a hormone that’s not influenced by your emotional state?

Well, listen, you know, here’s the thing. We’ve really only been doing this and expecting this from our bodies for the last, what, 40 years. So, you know, if it’s not working and we don’t have the supply, it’s okay. It’s okay. We are not anti-formula your fault. It’s not your fault. We’re not anti-donor milk. We are pro do whatever you need to do to be mentally stable, healthy, happy baby healthy, happy parent.

So. You know, just be aware that there are challenges with that route and that’s what we’re here for. Yeah. You know what I want to mention too, that I see a lot with people who either pump a lot or exclusively pump is y’all are really prone to seeing the normal variation in milk output. And that can be really stressful.

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Yeah. You know, when, when you’re directly feeding a baby, you just don’t see like, Oh, that feed was a half-ounce, that feed was four ounces. You know, and it’s really normal for our bodies to fluctuate like that. You know, every once in a while in our Facebook group, um, Breastfeeding for Busy Moms, we get a post where somebody posts a bottle of milk. It has an ounce in it and they’re like, what happened? I usually get five ounces and what did I do wrong? Right. Totally. And it’s a normal place to go to be like, Oh no, I made a mistake. It’s my body. Something’s wrong. And then, you know, I check in with them the next day. Hey, how’s it going? And they’re like, I dunno, it was fine.

The next pump was fine. Yeah. It was more, more than ever. So, and, and that’s just, that’s the reality when you have an objective way to measure your output is that then you’re going to see all of these variables that are very normal. But if you’re prone to worry and anxiety, like pretty much every person in the postpartum is, that can be really scary.

Yeah, it is really scary. Especially if you are making just enough and you haven’t yet crossed the line into formula land and you are, you feel like you’re hanging by a thread with having just enough. The smallest thread. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So if you’re there, you know, I usually tell people to take a bottle of formula, like one of those ready to feed ones, drop it off at daycare. So, you know it’s there. And if worst case scenario, your daycare provider spills a bottle of breast milk, you know your baby is not going to starve to death. Like that is the biological fear, right? The thing that sits in the pit of our stomach, that’s like, if you don’t produce enough, your baby will die.

And it’s like, wait a minute. Let’s look at reality. Is your baby going to die? Probably not, not from starvation, not from, you know, not this day and age, not here. So, you know, if you take that off the table and you take that stress out of your conscious brain, and your subconscious brain, it tends to free up a lot more hormonal space for your body to actually chill, make a little bit more milk and get it out of your breasts.

Yeah. So I wanna bring us back to what you mentioned before about pumping on demand versus a schedule because these are two different things, but they also don’t have to be exclusive of one another too. Um, it’s, it’s kind of an interesting thing. You have to figure out, like, what’s going to work for you, your baby, your body, your life, right?

Because you have to have something outside of just pumping. Right? Although it doesn’t feel like that. I’ll just start out by talking about a schedule, because that is what I think the majority of people who exclusively pump do. Where they have a schedule, you know, maybe they have a timer on their phone and they just pump every two hours or every three hours around the clock.

You know, and they, they live by that schedule because they have to. Absolutely. I felt, and you know, if you were the type of person that, if you don’t have that schedule, you will miss pumping sessions like I did. Where I would work through my pumping, if I did not set a timer and I didn’t have like a practiced routine that I was in. Then a schedule is going to be more beneficial for you than not. Right. But you just need to be honest with yourself about what kind of person you are and how you manage your time. Yeah. And the, the reality of pumping on a schedule is that you are going to pump less than if you pumped every time your baby wants to eat.

For the most part, most babies are going to want snacks in between, you know, things like that. However, again, like Heather said, if you’re one of those people who just forgets or is going to say, Oh yeah, baby’s eating, I’m going to put it off for an hour. And then it turns into three hours. Absolutely. You need that schedule because that’s kind of the least amount of times, at least in the beginning that you have to be pumping.

You know, when you’re four or six or nine months out, that’s totally different. You know, a lot of bodies are really tolerant of like pumping every four hours or whatever, but really in the first three months we’re talking about. You have to pump frequently. Yeah. And also because your nipples aren’t necessarily getting that stimulation from baby sucking doesn’t mean you can’t stimulate them other ways.

So one of the best tips Maureen usually gives is every time you go to the bathroom, give yourself a breast massage. It doesn’t even have to be aggressive at all. Just any kind of touch on your breast is going to activate them, stimulate them, and get your brain and body back on the same page. So every time you pee, even if it’s 10 times a day, give yourself a little love.

Especially if it’s 10 times. Especially if it’s 10 times a day, yes. If you’re one of those people who pees like twice a day, first, um, drink more water, but also maybe find a different thing for you. Right? Something that I often tell people who struggle with feeding or pumping enough is, if you don’t have other little thieving children. So it’s really good for first time moms, maybe not for other ones. Is like put a little bowl of your favorite candy out where you like to pump or nurse and put like 10 of them in there. And you get one every time you sit down to do a breast massage, your pump or whatever. And if you get through them all, you’re like, yay. I get more. And then just put more in the bowl. But you know that you already did that 10 times. Mine would be peanut M & M just so you know. I feel like mine would probably be chocolate covered almonds. Oh yeah. That’s good too. Any kind of chocolate covered nuts. I’m okay with, yeah, basically this doesn’t work if you have like a two year old running around, who’s going to be like “mommy’s M & M stash. Oh my gosh. Yeah. A two year old like mine, Heidi Mae would crush my candy. But you know, having little tricks like that are like, fuck it. Make a sticker system for yourself. Like it worked when you were five, it’s still going to work now. We’re not as complex as you think.

Yeah. But just give yourself a little encouragement, you know, if you’re like, Oh, I might have to stretch my pumping from two hours to three because a sports thing, take a two minute break. Do some hand expression, even if nothing comes out. And on the flip side of that, you can still do skin to skin with your baby, and you can still have baby attempt to nurse. Even if they don’t, them licking your nipple or just nuzzling, playing around with it is great.

Now, if you’re choosing to exclusively pump, because you don’t want to experience that at all, then, you know, obviously that’s fine. Don’t do that. You can just do it with yourself or not at all. These are all just options that we’re throwing out there that might help. And, you know, even like licking your baby, you’re still taking in their microbiome that way.

And your body will still make the milk that your baby needs at that specific time. So if your baby is ill, don’t feel like you’re missing out on giving them antibodies. Still like get in there, get in their face, you know, like try to take in as much of them as possible. So your body can be like, Oh baby needs this right now. And it’ll still come through milk.

Yeah. Now I do want to address what pumping on demand looks like. Um, because it’s a really good idea if you can do it. But it’s an extra challenge, which like, maybe you don’t need, but we’ll talk about it because again, it’s not all or nothing. So when we tell people to feed on demand, any time baby gives hunger cues, you know, put them to the breast.

But if you’re giving baby a bottle, you know, even bottle fed, babies are still gonna have snacks. They’re still gonna want to cluster feed, things like that. So if you are able to pump whenever baby is fed, it’s going to help you build up a really good supply, but you have to have like eight arms to do this. Right?

And we’re not into bottle propping. Like that’s not a thing we’re supposed to do with babies. So you kind of have to modify it. You’re like, okay. Baby’s hungry right now. That’s the priority. Going to feed this baby. Okay, so you feed the baby, then you can maybe baby wear and pump on one side. If you have a really tiny baby, you can wear them in between and pump on both sides.

Put baby in their bouncer and do 10 minutes of pumping. You know, not every pumping session, when you pump on demand, has to be like 25 minutes. Right. And you can use a hand pump in between. So you don’t always have to do like the double electric. I mean, we do, you will get the most out with a double electric pump. Like that’s what the research says, but if you just want to mimic the snacking that baby might do in between, just do some hand expression or haakaa. Or a haakaa. Yeah. Or, or a little, I liked the little hand pumps, honestly. I think they’re, they’re really great at mimicking just that little snacking or something even like three minutes.

Yeah. I mean, why not? Yeah. And you know what? I really like looking at this as a hybrid model. Because yeah, some people are going to be like, Oh my God, if I pump every time I give baby a bottle, then it’s like an hour and a half of my life. It just got sucked up into feeding the baby, putting the bottle in the, you know, dishwasher.

Okay. Baby settled. And I have to get my pump parts out and then I have to clean those. Yeah. It’s a lot. And to like combine those all into one timeframe can be really overwhelming. But, you can still have your two hour schedule or three hour schedule and then throw one of those in every couple of times. And actually you might end up saving time in the long run because you’ll end up having more milk that way.

Yeah. And so, you know, when you get to a point where you’ve been on a schedule and maybe your supply starts dwindling, it starts kind of going down, down, down then what are you doing? You’re increasing the amount of times you’re pumping and power pumping sessions. So really if you just do five, 10 extra minutes of like snack pumping in between, it’s going to save you those crazy power pumping sessions and panic later.

Right. And you know, if you’re just pumping for a little bit of time, (and we’re really just aiming for stimulation) don’t be afraid if you only get a little bit of milk that comes out. The reason that you’re pumping at those times is less to store milk and more to send a message to your body. You know?

And like Laura said, like she took advantage of every single car ride to pump. I’m sure she did not take a car ride every two hours for the rest of her life, you know. But she said, yeah, anytime she was driving for 20 minutes, she just pumped. You know, who cares if it wasn’t quite two hours or if it was 20 minutes after she pumped last.

Yeah. I mean, she got to the point where she was able to pump anywhere. And I know a lot of people aren’t there, you know, they’re not there where they feel comfortable, just, you know, whipping out their pump and pumping while out to dinner at a restaurant with people. Remember back in the day when we could do that and go to restaurants with people? That was fun.

Oh my gosh. We’d like, you’d like breathe other people’s air? Oh my God. If you were like, “Heather, I know you’re not currently lactating, but if you pump, you can go out to eat.” I’d be like, I’ll do it! Oh my God, me too! Anyways. Oh goodness. Those are all good tips that Maureen gives and I use them all the time with my clients. And I just wanted to, also, before we wrap up, I wanted to mention other things that exclusive pumpers notice that others may not. This is fun.

So let’s talk about the cream line. Yeah. Oh man. I have wanted to talk about this for so long, Heather. I’m so glad you remembered. We are not going to go deep, deep into this, but we are going to acknowledge that exclusive pumpers look at their breast milk like they’re trying to solve a calculus problem. Yeah. So if you’ve never pumped, you will have no idea what we’re talking about. If you have fresh milk from literally any mammal that has not been homogenized and you put it in a cup and you let it sit for a day or two, it’s going to separate into two layers.

Have you ever heard the cream rises to the top? Right. Exactly. It does. So. At the top is going to be mostly stuff that’s like lighter and fat-soluble. Just like, if you poured oil into a cup of water, it’ll float. And at the bottom, it’s going to be like the water-soluble stuff. It’s totally normal for whatever thickness those layers are to be that way.  The top line does not represent the percentage of fat in your milk. Correct. Like, do we need to repeat that? We might need to expound upon that.

I can do that. Go ahead, Maureen. I’m just going to talk about making butter here. Cause this is the best way I know how to do it. Oh my God. So, uh, some of you at home, have never done this. You’re gonna think I’m crazy. It’s fine. So when you buy cream from the store, it’s just the stuff that floated to the top. It’s literally been skimmed off the milk. So when you buy skimmed milk, it’s milk where the cream has been skimmed. Side note, I used to think, when I was little, it was called skin milk, like the skin on your body .

And I was like, hell no, I’m not drinking that. My mom only drank that. Also skim milk is like blue. Yeah, it is. Yeah. Just saying guys, so is our foremilk. It’s fine. Um, we drank that all of the time. It was the only milk my mom bought. Isn’t that weird? It’s so yucky anyway, weird time, back then. I did not like it. Yeah.

The nineties were wild. Okay. So when you buy cream from the store, it’s not a hundred percent fat, it’s still milk. Like there’s still water in there. There’s still other things. So you make butter from cream. If you make it yourself, it’s fun. It doesn’t take very long, do it with your kids for homeschool. Cause since everyone’s doing that now. When you make the butter, you basically just shaking up the milk over, you know, you, you get, you get it to the whipped cream part.

You keep going, it becomes butter. It’s not just a solid, mass of fat. There’s a bunch of buttermilk leftover that you have to pour off and wash off of the butter. And then the butter is still not a hundred percent fat. There’s like a bunch of other stuff in there. So even after all of that processing, you still don’t have a hundred percent fat. Then you like can separate the butter.

Right. You can clarify it. So imagine you have that little layer, thick layer, on top of your milk that’s like more solid. If you were to take that and try to make butter out of it, you’d get like, like a teaspoon of butter, maybe. So, because human milk only has like two to 5% fat and that’s totally cool.

Yeah. So all of these questions from people that are like, how do I make my cream line thicker? Well, like, really what they ask is how do I make my milk fattier? Right. I’ve been seeing pictures of other people’s cream lines and they’re really, really thick and mine aren’t. What can I eat to make my cream line thicker and my milk fattier?

 What do you have I say to that?  I always start with, “you can’t visually assess the fat content of your milk and unless your baby is having some weight gain problem, there’s absolutely no problem with your milk or milk content. And even if your baby is having a weight gain problem, it’s more likely a problem with how much milk they are able to drink versus what is in your milk. It is extremely, extremely rare that we have an issue with what is actually in breast milk causing a problem for baby.”

 Yeah. Like I said, the recipe that we’ve been working on with nature for the past, however many millions of years. It’s pretty much, they nailed it. You know, like your grandma’s brownie recipe that she’s worked on for 90 years and how it’s pretty darn perfect.

Right. Our recipe for breastmilk is pretty darn perfect. It’s better than that. It doesn’t get much better than that. So just because, and just because Maureen’s looks different than mine doesn’t mean that my baby is going to starve and be skinny and hers isn’t. In fact, it could be just the opposite because I lick my baby. I smell my baby. I do skin to skin with my baby and my body tweaks the recipe for exactly what my baby needs and hers does the same, even if we were exclusive pumpers. Yeah. And again, you know, if you pump a lot, you’re going to notice color changes in your milk. They’re also normal. And smells. Yeah. That’s totally fine.

Greenish yellowish, bluish, totally white. You may even have what we call strawberry milk on occasion. If you have a nipple injury that you didn’t notice, and that is actually okay too, because your breast milk is made from blood anyway. And just like, I actually really want to make a video of this Heather, where I take a cup of milk and I put like, a drop of blood in it and then show you how red it gets.

Because sometimes we get pictures where people have this like really pink milk and they’re like, Oh my God! Can my baby drink it? Are they going to die? But it’s probably like two teaspoons of blood at the most, like at the most in 8 ounces of milk. And no, they’re not going to die. And also it’s going into their GI system, which in your stomach, you have a bunch of acid and it’s going to break down any crazy stuff like that anyway.

Yeah. And really, that’s not like one of those things that we say, and we’re like, “but the CDC says”, no, it’s fine. Like all, all the breastfeeding organizations you’re going to look up will also say, it’s fine to feed your baby milk with a little bit of blood in it. Yep. But like deal with it though.

It’s fine for baby. But then you’re bleeding somewhere. So like, investigate that. Look into that. Phone a friend. Yeah. You can email us at [email protected] and we’ll help you. So we hope that that gives you a clear picture of what exclusive pumping challenges look like and how to maybe take a breath and realize that it really is going to be okay.

And give you a few tips along the way, but we also wanted to mention a few episodes that you might want to go back and listen to because it could really help you out as an exclusive pumper. Yeah. We have episodes on cleaning pump parts, fitting flanges, storing milk and maximizing your pumping session and how much breast milk to put in a bottle at a time. Um, and we have one specifically about premies that talks a lot about pumping. So we’ll drop all of those in the show notes, so you can find them easily.

Yeah. But before we go, we’re going to do our Milk Minute Award in the Alcove. Today’s award is going to go to Brianne B. She nursed in the carrier for the first time today and she posted the cutest picture in the Facebook group.

She said her oldest is two today and had to prepare food for the family, but sissy needed to eat. She felt a bit like a supermom this morning and she apologizes for her hot mess outfit and kitchen. Uh don’t! Please don’t apologize for that kitchen. Yeah, we all have a hot mess outfit and kitchen every day.

Absolutely. So we are going to give Brianne the, uh, Balance Bad-ass Award. Oh, good one. Absolutely. Look at all that stuff that she’s balancing and she’s doing it in such a bad-ass way. We’re super proud of you. Good job. Way to figure that out and good job to your baby too, who just decided to reach down for a little snacky poo while you were cooking.

Yeah, just a reminder for everyone out there. It is possible. May not work the first time you try to breastfeed in the carrier, but hey, keep trying. One of these days it’s going to work. Yep. One of these days. So congrats, Brianne. And don’t forget if you have a win that you want to share with us, you can email us [email protected]

All right. See you guys later. Toodaloo. Thanks for listening to The Milk Minute. If you haven’t already please like, subscribe and review our podcast wherever you listen. If you’d like to support our podcast, you can find us on Patreon at Patreon.com/MilkMinutePodcast. To send us feedback, personal stories, or just to chat, you can send us an email [email protected]

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