18 months of Exclusively Pumping for Twins

18 months of Exclusively Pumping for Twins

I nearly Gave Up as Soon as I started

I vividly remember the first time I pumped after I left the hospital. I was trying to use my rental hospital-grade pump my insurance company provided. It made me cry, it hurt, it was difficult to set up and use. Pumping was a failure. I only used it once.

Close up of breast with cabbage
The actual night I nearly quit. My milk had come in and my breasts were so engorged I resorted to wrapping them with cabbage – which is what everyone said to do. The coolness helped, but once it warmed up I just sort of smelled like cole slaw.

I wish I had known better. I wish I had had an ally. That’s why I am so genuinely pleased to partner with Aeroflow Breastpumps to talk to soon-to-be-Moms about the services they provide and their mission to increase the national incidence of breastfeeding.

Aeroflow Breastpumps, through their easy to use website, will verify your insurance coverage, coordinate with your doctor to get the required prescription to your insurance company, educate you on the differences between pumps, make sure your pump ships to you on time, and handle all the billing with your insurance company.

Our twins were born 8 weeks early after an extraordinarily difficult couple months. I didn’t have the energy or bandwidth to coordinate any of those things before they were born. After my C-section and with the stress of my babies in the NICU in a city and hour and half from my home, I could barely navigate the system with my insurance company. Aeroflow Breastpumps would have been an amazing resource for me.

Truth time

Yes, pumping hurts. For me, it didn’t stop hurting for months. Gear and technique helped. Pumping can get obsessive. Am I pumping enough? Am I producing enough? Tracking my minutes pumping. Tracking my output. It was an outlet for my anxiety and a focus of it. With twins I felt out of control most of the time. Pumping was one thing I could control. I loved the Medela App for help with tracking this.

Selfie of breast pumping woman with Medela Symphony Breast Pump and la Croix water
Me and my Medela Symphony Hospital Grade Rental Pump. Hospital-Grade doesn’t mean better, it means different features. Note my La Croix is setting on a washable breast pad. 😛

I had to drink between 150-180 ounces a day of water to keep my production up. No kidding – but at least part of that was in la Croix and Diet Coke (and I’m not even sorry). I did drink alcohol but I was thoughtful about it.

I pumped in parking garages in my car, in a bar parking lot, in doctor’s offices, indoors, and outdoors. I pumped in front of my friends and strangers. And more than once, I pumped during a movie under my coat with a hand pump.

Selfie of woman in LuLaRoe dress in purple red black with a door in the background
I pumped during the toasts at a dear friend’s Rehearsal Dinner. And I pumped during their reception too. Choosing a dress that easily accommodated pumping wasn’t always easy.

I had one lame boob (0r if you are an optimist, one super boob – if you haven’t been there.. my right breast produced only a fraction of what my left one did) so pumping for twins meant I pumped all the time. Literally around the clock – every three hours. My twins slept through the night long before I did. This isn’t average. And it isn’t what I planned to do. Just because I did doesn’t mean someone else should I have never worked so hard at something for so long. Especially something my sons will never thank me for doing.

Over 18 months I pumped a little more than 1700 hours to feed my twins. I DO NOT advocate that what I did is what other moms should do. My bottom line is that Fed is Best and the ONLY person who should be making the decisions about breast feeding is Mom. Her body. Her choice.

Set short manageable goals to start

Without small goals I would have NEVER kept it up. In fact, if you told me I had to do 18 months when I started, I would have told you where to go – and it would not have been to a vacation destination.

Goal #1 – while they were in the NICU

I pumped the first time within 20 minutes of my C-Section. We learned that NICU babies are at high risk of an ugly complication called NEC (Necrotizing enterocolitis) and that breast milk dramatically reduces that risk – here’s an article on the benefits to NICU babies, do yourself a favor and don’t google NEC. I committed to pumping while my sons were in the NICU. Over seven weeks it was all I could control and the primary thing I could do for my sons other than holding them. We worked with OT and Lactation Nurses in the NICU to practice their nursing. Both boys struggled with staying awake while, so we would ALSO have to bottle feed them. With scheduled feedings every three hours (even after we left the hospital) I was either nursing or pumping for more than 1 hour out of every three.

Sink full of breast pump parts including medela Kiinde and beaugen
Food safety is Key with breastmilk – they taught us this in the NICU. Medela Parts were easy to clean and sanitize with their steam bags. I dedicated the sink in my bathroom to breast milk only and kept it clean with their wipes.

Goal #2 – six months of Exclusively Pumping (EP)

Because of their nursing struggles, I became an EP’er (one of my sons nursed once a day). My next goal was six months I had already done 1/3 of that. Handing my children to someone else to feed was amazing – I got some rest for the first time since I got pregnant.

Selfie of woman pumping breast milk with medela and kiinde gear with twin boys watching
A handsfree pumping bra was priceless. And toys nearby for when I was pumping and entertaining a couple of little guys. Or, in this picture, failing to entertain one of them.

Goal #3 – introduce food and get through flu season

By 9 months many healthy children are eating some food and I thought maybe by then I wouldn’t need to pump as much. This was wishful thinking. Nine months became 12 so we could get through the end of flu season.

Goal #4 – Open ended

I kept pumping – at a year they weren’t eating much food due to a delay. They also hadn’t been sick at all. So I said 3 more months. My guys were sleeping 8 hours at a clip at this point, but I wasn’t.

At 15 months I started pumping just 4-5 times a day and was content to pump enough for their overnight bottles. I finally started sleeping 6 hours at a time and feeling like a human. I spent the next 3 months slowly weaning down, which is its own freakin post. I pumped my last milk right around 18 months.

Kiinde Breast milk bag getting filled with a medela pump
The very last milk I pumped. I ended my pumping journey with about 30 ounces in the freezer. A power outage thawed that milk and we had to use it before I wanted to. It broke my heart when the last of it was gone.

I used Medela Pumps and Gear along with Kiinde storage and bottle system

Flat lay of medela kiinde parts and accessories.
After I finished I took some pictures of the gear that had been with me for a year and a half. I put a lot of hours on these parts and they didn’t let me down.

Along with working with your insurance company Aeroflow Breastpumps can help with choosing the pump and accessories that will work best for you. This is key, because what worked for your BFF might not work for you. Having an expert help you decide what is best for you is worth it.

Our hospital provided medela gear to us and I am a huge fan. Their sterilization wipes and steam bags helped us ensure food safety for our little ones. Their replacement parts were easy to find and use.

Breast Milk leaking through a shirt
My Medela parts and my Kiinde Bags never leaked. I can’t say the same for me.

We rented an hospital grade pump that the NICU suggested for my particular situation – here’s where it gets tricky. Hospital Grade pumps aren’t necessarily better – they do different things than a standard pump and have different features. My hospital grade pump wasn’t meant for travel – so for when I was away from home I used a standard Pump in Style from Medela.

Kiinde – milk storage and bottles in one – I can’t say enough nice things about this system. In fact, Aeroflow Breastpumps can help you figure out if you are one of the lucky folks who’s insurance actually covers the cost of the bags (lucky YOU)!! These worked exactly as advertised. I used literally thousands of these and I only had two bag failures. It’s pretty awesome not to worry about bags breaking or leaking. Also, when you go through 16 bottles a day for a year not having wash bottles over and over again is a lifesaver.

Kiinde bottles full of breast milk on a fridge shelf.
One day’s worth of bottles for my twins. Thankfully we used disposable bags so I wasn’t washing 16 bottles a day. We still had to wash nipples, but that was a piece of cake. 

As you get closer to the arrival of your little one, don’t hesitate to let Aeroflow Breastpumps help you along the way. I wouldn’t talk about them if I didn’t truly think they offer a real valuable resource for Expectant Moms.

Did you EP? What pro tips do you have you can share with Fort Birthday? Shout it in the comments.

 

New blog up on fort birthday exclusively pumping for twins over 18 months using medela and kiinde would have been easier with help from Aeroflow breastpumps

 

 

We share in Fort Birthday

7 Replies to “18 months of Exclusively Pumping for Twins”

  1. I had to pump so much with my first baby too because I had to go back to work so fast. It was a beast. I had a Medela pump though too and it really did make things easier than another pump I tried. This story is going to be so helpful for new moms!!

    1. Pumping is so subjective – its important to know there are options. I really have so much admiration for women that have to pump at work. That’s a whole other post, but thankfully one I’ll have to let someone else write.

  2. Thank goodness for innovation
    Old fashioned hand pumps were not the best. A recourse if one had to but not at all easy for most. Thank goodness for electronic pumps and options for different needs. Hurrah and congrats to you for working so hard. Now on to other challenges ( Hee Hee)

  3. Ahhh… I’ll never forget one of the first times I pumped and got like 8 oz. I was so proud of myself! And then the bottle tipped over and it spilled all over my bed, lending a whole new meaning to crying over spilled milk.

    Bravo to you, mama! Your sons might never thank you (or anyone else who cannot lactate), but there are legions of other women who stand in awe!!

    1. Thanks, Monica. I used to sleep during pumping – seriously, it was kinda bananas. I had a whole set up and routine. But sometimes I was too tired to think straight when I set up. One time I pumped 20 minutes with no bag attached to the pump. I soaked myself and the bed in my sleep. And lost all that milk. SOBS!

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