1. Invest in a good quality pump- I can say with 100% confidence that I wouldn't have made it this far if I didn't have a good pump. When I found out I was pregnant I went through the process to get a free pump through insurance, and received the Medela Pump In Style. Around the same time my sister in law offered to let me borrow her Medela Freestyle. At that point I thought all breast pumps were created equally, but boy was I wrong. The Freestyle is battery powered (rechargeable batteries) so I'm able to go anywhere with it. I pump in the car (as a passenger) all the time. The pump mechanism is small, and even has a belt clip, so that you can pump and move around at the same time. Before I had Thompson, the thought of using someone else's breast pump really weirded me out. But after using one, I realized it's basically just the motor that's being reused. I purchased all new tubing and parts so that anything that actually touches my body and my milk is brand new. If you don't want to shell out the big bucks for a pump, you can also rent one through the hospital. The hospital grade pumps are even more powerful, and I've heard great things about them. If mine ever bites the dust, I'll definitely look into a hospital rental (I think they are around $80 a month). While the free pump I received through insurance isn't the best, I still would advise anyone to go ahead and request one through their insurance company if it's going to be covered at 100%. It's comforting to know that I have a backup just in case I ever need it.
2. Buy a hands free pumping bra- After reading tons of reviews, I purchased this bra through Amazon and I've been really pleased with it. I have the pink but I'd recommend buying the black one. Even with regular washing, the pink one starts to look a little dingy after a while. Using this allows me to be totally hands free when I'm pumping, so I'm always able to multitask. Plus, I think the added compression it gives helps me pump more milk.
3. Get a good nursing cover- I mentioned above that I pump in the car a lot. If T and I are taking a car trip that's more than 20 minutes, I plan to pump while I'm riding. It's a great way to save time and make use of that otherwise wasted time in the car. This stretchy nursing cover makes it so much more discreet, plus it can also be used as a car seat cover and a shopping cart cover, too. Several different brands make these, but I love that this particular one is Prime Eligible on Amazon.
4. Stay hydrated- I'm pumping anywhere between 30 and 40 ounces of milk a day, which means I'm losing a lot of fluid. Staying hydrated is the best way to keep milk production up. I sip on decaffeinated tea, water, and gatorade, and bring a 32 oz tumbler of water with me to bed each night. I prefer a Swell bottle or a Yeti cup so that my water stays ice cold throughout the night.
5. Purchase reusable breast pads- File this under things no one ever told me about before baby. I had no clue that wearing breast pads would be an everyday requirement. These ones on Amazon are leak proof, which is really important for the first few months while you're supply is still regulating. If you don't get the leak proof ones, you may end up in a situation as depicted by the picture below. How embarrassing. I now stick to dark colored and printed tops only.
6. Buy lots of extra bottles and pump parts- At any given time I usually have 3-4 bottles of milk in the fridge, 3-4 that need washing, and a few clean ones that I can use throughout the day. I wash bottles and bottle parts once per day, so it's really helpful to have several extras on hand. We use these because they work with my pump, but really any bottles will do.
If you have any other tips or product suggestions for me, please do share! I'd love to know what has worked for you.