How I wish I didn't have anything to say on the topic because I never had to pump. Sadly, I have all too much to say on the topic.
If feels like my (Monday-Friday) life revolves around the pump.
My supply TANKED the first week I was back at work. I tracked how much I got per pump session everyday for the first week and it just kept getting less and less each day, each session as the week went on. I FREAKED OUT. I was pumping FIVE TIMES A DAY while at work the first week: 7:45am (I always got/get the most from this session, even though I fed Bailey at 6:30am), 10am, 12pm, 2pm, & 4pm.
Bailey was getting three 3.5 ounce bottles a day at daycare (given at 9:30am, 12:30pm and 3:30pm) with 2 extra small 1-ounce bottle if she seemed extra hungry. Some days she needs 1 of the 2 extras, some days none, some days both. So, we'll average and say she takes 1 extra ounce a day. That's 11.5 ounce a day. That first week I wasn't even making 9 ounce a day.
That first weekend I went on a supply-raising mission. I made lactation cookies.
A lot of lactaion cookies. First, let me just say-- these cookies are GOOD. The Hubs eats them all the time. I joke that he's going to start producing milk soon if he keeps it up. Anyway- they are YUMMY. I eat at LEAST 2-3 a day.
I started taking Fenugreek. I take 1 capsule a day. While that's less than what lactation consultants reccomend to increase supply, I also heard they can be really tough on the tummy and I have a pretty sensative tummy so I didn't/don't want to risk it. I figure 1 capsle a day is better than none.
I also drink about 2 cups of Mother's Milk tea a day.
I also kept pumping like a lunatic. Everything and everyone I talked to said just keep nursing and pumping like crazy. So, I started pumping at least once in the evening (usually after Bailey's 7:30pm nursing session) and started getting an extra .5-1 ounce from that.
I made sure to eat and drink enough during the day, ESPECIALLY days that I workout.
It's hard to say if it was any one of these things or just a decrease of the first-week-back stress of what, but my supply has steadily increased since that first week. Now, on average, I get about 12-13 ounces per day while at work from pumping 4 times a day on average, which while it's not a TON it is enough to cover her daily need, so I'm happy with it.
Unfortuantely, if the Hubs gives her an extra bottle for the 11pm feeding, I'm not pumping what she's getting from bottles. I'm OK with it right now. We've got a pretty decent freezer stash and it's not worth more stress or worry. Plus, I think the extra sleep I get from him giving her that night bottle helps me produce more. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself. :)
I've decided to keep doing what I'm doing, as it appears to be working. So, I'm still eating lactaions cookies (SHUCKS! :) ), taking Fenugreek, drinking an obscene about of water, eating like it's my job, and pumping as much as I can at work (now, it's more like 7:45am, 11am, 1:30pm, and 4pm most days). I also still pump on the weekends which SUUUUCKS. By Friday night I am BEYOND sick of the stupid pump. But, it's worth it to get several more ounces each week.
Worst part about pumping... well, besides ALL OF IT? (TMI alert...) OMG. My poor, poor nipples. Yes, I just said nipples on my blog. They are SO INCREIBLY sore by Friday afternoon. I'd likely try to pump more on the weekends, but seriously- they just can't take it. Bless anyone who has to pump exclusively b/c my poor boobs just cannot handle it. I've tried pretty much everything they say can reduce soreness and while it helps slightly, it still huuuuurts. By Friday, I legit cringe everytime I start to turn on that dreded stupid machine. Cringe and curse. A lot.
So, while I hate pumping something fierce, I have learned a few tricks of the trade to help ease a little of the pain-in-the-assness of pumping...
-Having a small fridge in my office so I don't have to get up and down to put milk away.
-Storing my pump parts in that fridge. By keeping them in the fridge, I don't have to clean them every time, as bacteria can't grow in the cold fridge. Saves me SO much time.
-Utlizing the weekends. I spend a decent chunk of Sunday morning prepping bottles for the next week, freezing extra milk from the week before, etc.
-Label bottles by the day of the week the milk was pumped with some take and a permanent marker. Saves me during the weekend from trying to remember which identical bottle was from Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
-Pump right before working out. Just trust me on this one.
-Ask for and accept help. The Hubs washes bottles and all my pump parts every night after I go to sleep and re-packs it all into my pump. Then, he takes my pump out to my car each morning so I don't forget it and so it's one less thing I have to carry. Seriously, this may not seem like a lot, but it helps SO MUCH.
I can't stress that last one enough. As a new mom, somehow I find myself falling deep into the "I need to do everything... and I need to do it myself!" trap, which is just crazy pants. No one can do it all. I certainally can't. It's tough for me to ask for help for ANYTHING, let alone something as big as Bailey, but the Hubs and I are in this together and it's important that to me that we're a team on everything. Sometimes I can get wrapped up in my head and just get so go-go-goooo that I forget that not only CAN he help, but he WANTS to help. He's not a mindreader, though. He needs me to ASK. Simple as that. So, to any other new moms out there-- ASK for help. It doesn't make you a failure, I promise.