Sunday, December 13, 2015

Common Pitfalls of Exclusive Pumping, and What to do About Them

I wasn't completely new to pumping with baby number 3. I'd had to return to school or work after the births of each of my other children, and I'd pumped whenever I had to be away from them. I figured I knew what I was doing, at least to some degree. However, as I've discovered these last few months, exclusive pumping is a whole different ball game than occasional pumping, and frequent nursing. Here is the first common pitfall of EP-ing-

Clogged Milk Ducts. Yes, you can get them while nursing, and many women do, but you are far more prone to get them when exclusively pumping, and they are a lot harder to get rid of with a pump than with a little latched mouth. It's always better to prevent them in the first place, and here are somethings you can do-

  • Avoid Prolonged Pressure on Your Breasts. Wear a soft, supportive bra that is not too tight, and does not have any under-wire or push-up pads. Do not sleep in positions that put pressure on your breasts from your arms, or anything else. 
  • Breast Compression While Pumping. Breast compression basically just invovles squeezing the breasts between suctionings of the pump. I usually wait until after the first let-down, and use both hand on one breast, and then the other. You will want to change the position of your hands a few times, and squeeze at multiple angles to ensure that the breast are able to get as empty as possible. Feel for any firm spots, and massage through them towards the nipple while you pump. The prevents excess milk from pooling, and the fat from sticking to the duct, and blocking it. It can also increase your milk supply. Here is a link to a youtube video showing the basics of breast compression while pumping. It does show a woman's full breast as she is pumping, but if you're like many nursing and pumping moms, boobs don't phase you in the least, especially when they're being used to express milk.
  • Sunflower Lecithin. This stuff is amazing! This is the one I take, but any brand should be fine.You'll want  sunflower lecithin rather that soy lecithin as soy can mimic estrogen, which can affect your milk supply, your weight, and your fertility. I take 1200 mg daily for a maintenance dose, and 1200 mg twice daily when I have a clog. Lecithin basically acts as a lubricant, and makes the milk fat less sticky so it doesn't stick together and block the ducts. 

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