Here I hope to share my experience pumping breastmilk for A. It has not been an easy journey, but I'm so glad I chose to do it. Most of my advice on pumping came from Kellymom, but there are many things I gathered from sources all over. This may be useful to surrogates, birthmoms, or even exclusive pumpers as there are very limited resources out there. So here are some tips to know going into it:

1. Plan to rent a hospital-grade double electric pump. It's not cheap, but so worth it. I bought an Ameda Purely Yours and regret it daily. The new ones tend to have a lot of issues and even the Medela  Pump In Style Advanced doesn't seem to cut it for many exclusive pumpers (EP'ers). These are really created to supplement breastfeeding. Also, you can save money because you can get the kit of parts for free while you're in the hospital, including difference sized flanges if needed.

2. Pump in the hospital. I nursed A in the hospital and knew that colostrum doesn't pump very well so I just didn't bother. The problem is, I had to figure out how to use the pump and spend a long time learning that sized flanges I needed. I wish I had done at least 2 full pumping sessions each day I was there and asked the lactation consultant to be there for an entire session. This also probably would have increased my supply when it came it by telling my body I needed more.

3. Use the hair tie method for hands-free pumping. You'll want to let suction get established before totally letting go. I wore nursing bras or a nursing gown day and night and left the hair ties on to save me some time. I had one nursing sports bra before going to the hospital since I knew I'd need it but my breasts would change in size. The others I bought from target and loved.

4. Have a comfy pumping station and keep water and snacks at it- you will be SO hungry as producing breastmilk burns up to 600 calories a day. Also have a book, tv, or smartphone so you aren't bored out of your mind. You'll pump more milk this way.

5. Invest in a nursing cover. You will appreciate it to be able to socialize rather than be cooped up the many hours a day you pump. I also found that if I can watch the milk coming out, I produce less.

6. Have nursing pads ready to go- your nipples will be so sore in those early days and the pads keep them from sticking to your bra, which is not a fun experience.

7. Have a collection method ready. In all my geniusness, I forgot that I'd need to have something ready to put the milk in. Lansinoh milk storage bags are my favorite. D and I were concerned about hidden toxins in plastic, so when I was taking the breastmilk myself instead of shipping I stored it in mason jars that I sterilized and marked with a sticky note (date and volume).

8. COCONUT OIL! This was a life-saver. Whether nursing or pumping, apply it to your nipples and areolas after every session. It is soothing, heals, and even has anti-bacterial properties. You don't even have to wash it off because it's safe for baby to consume. Some ladies apply it to their flanges before pumping, as well. I'd rub it into my stretch marks and dry skin the first couple of months while pumping as well.

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