I pumped 3 times a day at work. I had to pump for at least 30 minutes each to get enough milk since I had an irregular let down pattern (at least from what I can tell). Oh and this was in my car, since my company didn't have anywhere for me and I didn't want to make a big deal. Even though my car wasn't the most set up, it was actually quite comfortable. I had my heater (it was winter), music, i could take off my shoes. It was actually a nice quiet time to myself. Occasionally I had to pump after I got home from work. Once Peanut started sleeping through the night, I had to start pumping in the middle of the night to keep up my supply. This was a milk-saving pump session. It wasn't fun to get up when I could be sleeping, but not only did it keep up my supply for my 6 oz. bottle eating 4 month old, it gave me at least 6-10 oz of milk. That would usually make up for a what I was short the next day. Adding it all up, I've pumped about 156 hours in the past 6 months.
Pumping is much harder than I expected. Here's a few tips for you (and for me if I have to start again!):
1. Drink PLENTY of water. Meaning more than your usual 8 glasses gals.
2. Eat OLD FASHIONED oatmeal in the mornings. This will up your supply naturally.
3. Pump longer than you would nurse your baby(even if milk isn't coming out!). Wait for the second letdown. Mine usually happens around 20-25 minutes. Most women has this happen around 15 minutes from what I hear. Remember the pump (no matter how expensive) will never be as effective as your little professional nurser, so be patient and work hard to get that milk!
4. Massage, massage, massage. Keep compressing and massaging to pull that milk out. Sometimes I would have to do it the full 30 minutes.
5. If you have problems letting down, keep a photo of you baby with you, a blanket that smells like them or brings sweet memories, or I even have a 'let-down' song that I play each time I pump. It's like ringing the bell for dinner. Your body knows what it means.
6. If you need to increase your supply, pump 5-10 minutes on each side after nursing or add on this time to your pumping session, again even if milk isn't coming out.
7. Remember, your milk is a supply and demand deal. If you demand it, your body will supply it. It works the other way too. If you stop demanding or reduce your demand, you body will reduce or stop your supply. This is why I believe most mothers dry out earlier than they wanted to.
8. If you're bottle feeding during the day, which most pumping mothers are, make sure to stick with the smallest nipple-size 0 ladies. Even if your baby gets frustrated with the flow, don't increase it. The faster the milk comes out of the bottle, the less they have to work. Our nipples require work, so we don't want our little ones to get lazy with the breast and prefer the bottle. Also, try to keep to the wide nipples. I made the mistake of getting the narrow Dr. Browns (even though they have the wide) and my little guy now nurses with a very narrow latch.
9. Try out some pumping accessories. I like the Pumpin' Pals Super Shields. I feel they really do bring more of the breast in the shield to get a wide 'latch'. If anything, at least you don't have to lean forward. I wasn't too fond of the strap though-I'll explain why. Since I have larger breasts (D's), I need inward pressure. The strap gave good lift, but not inward pressure, so I stuck to my nursing bra. I like the Simple Wishes one.
10. Have an extra set of accessories. If you can afford it and know you'll be pumping a while, get a few extras. An extra bra, so you can use one while the other one is getting washed. Extra collector bottles, regular bottles, and shields. I hated how every night I had to wash everything for the next morning. Once I had a lot of bottles, I did bottles every other night-which was great!
11. Now, I'm not guaranteeing this tip is the most sanitary, but I felt comfortable with it. Instead of washing your pump parts after each and every pump, throw all the parts in the fridge then you can use them again the next time without washing. If the milk is good, the milk on the parts should be fine too right? My little guy never got sick and this saved me time and sanity. I had a friend who liked the idea, but still wanted to rinse the parts-that works too! Whatever you're comfortable with. I only did this during my work pumps though. I washed it after that.
12. Invest in a good pump. If you're going to be using it every day, multiple times a day-you need a good quality pump that will help you pump fast and efficient. I decided on the Hygeia Enjoye LBI. It has an external filter that you can change in between babies or mothers! Did you know the average pump isn't approved for multiple users?? It's because you can't change the filter! Also the LBI has an internal battery that you can charge so you don't have to have it plugged in. I only have to charge mine about every other night. This was how I pumped in my car! I would HIGHLY recommend the internal battery if possible. You can pump anywhere!
13. Here's a tip from a reader that I forgot-eat A LOT of protein!!! String cheese, yogurt, even plant based protein is great.
14. If you're nursing as well as pumping, and one breast produces less-make sure your baby nurses on the lower-producing breast first. Usually a baby is a little more 'ferocious' when they first latch and they'll drink more-thus creating the demand.
Well I think that's probably enough for now! Let me know if you have any questions. I'd love to help.