Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pumping in the Parking Lot

By Mama S

This past Saturday night, I found myself sitting alone in the front passenger seat of my car in a dark, creepy hotel parking lot, dressed in a formal gown, methodically pumping away with my hand pump as I tried to relieve some of the discomfort in my engorged “bubbies.” Meanwhile, my husband and friends were inside the hotel dancing away at a friend’s wedding. Needless to say, it wasn’t my first choice activity for the night ( or my second choice, or third. . . ) and as I tried to wipe the spilled droplets of breast milk off my new BCBG dress, I cursed all the people who never told me about how annoying/horrible/uncomfortable pumping is.

So I am here to tell all of you – officially - it SUCKS. We all read so much about the benefits of breastfeeding. By way of incentive, we are often told about the many conveniences of breastfeeding: “the milk is always ready and always at the right temperature!” “you don’t have to carry bottles and formula everywhere you go!” and my least favorite: “it comes in such cute packages!”

Anyway, what no one ever mentions is that you are going to have to strap on plastic cups and have your nipples sucked off by a scary machine if you want to be able to leave your breastfed baby for any extended period of time.

Here is what I wish someone had told me about pumping before I had my baby:

If you want to breastfeed and are planning to go back to work, you will need a double pump. Either a hospital grade rental or the Medela double pump are your best bets. If, instead, you will be primarily a stay-at-home and will not need to pump with any regularity, you can get away with a single pump. Medela also sells a good battery powered single pump that is easy to travel with. The Medela pumps are expensive, but they are worth it.

If, like me, you already own a Medela double pump and a Medela single pump and you happen to forget BOTH while spending a night away from your baby, you can also get a $20 hand pump at Target made by Evenflo that will do the trick in a pinch (see sad, pathetic pumping story above).

Once you have chosen your pump, you will also have to choose supplies for storing your milk. Again, there are many options. Medela makes good pump and save bags that can be attached right to the pump and Playtex sells a kit that allows you to pump right into the Playtex drop-in bags and then just drop those bags into the bottles – very convenient.

Finally, a few miscellaneous items: When you begin pumping you should know that EVERYONE PUMPS DIFFERENT AMOUNTS so don’t be discouraged if you get less than some of your other mommy friends. And if you start pumping early before your milk has regulated you will probably get TONS of milk to start with but less as time goes on – this is normal. If you are interested in how much your baby is getting when he/she feeds, as a rule of thumb I have heard that we pump about one once less than what our baby would get from breastfeeding. Lastly, you should know that the pump can be used to encourage more milk supply by pumping about one hour after each breastfeed - but let’s be honest, who really wants to do that?

Happy Pumping Ladies!


  1. I laughed reading this as I have been in the same situation but in the day, in a friends car and without a pump. I had to do it by hand (UGH). I wish someone had told me (before that day) that if you are breast feeding you really cannot be without baby or pump for more then a few hours without some problems...

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