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Breastfeeding is a source of mixed feelings for me.
When I was pregnant with Greyson I had the grand plan to breastfeed for the first year – a common goal many new moms set before themselves. He arrived and thanks to a little help from the lactation specialist at our hospital, I got the hang of nursing. My milk would eventually come in and once we were home I felt as though I really understood how it all worked and the rules to keep my supply up and baby happy:
- nurse or pump every 2-3 hours
- freshly pumped milk is good for up to 4 hours at room temperature
- refrigerate or freeze pumped milk and build up a stock supply
- thawed milk is only good for about 2 hours
- …and so on…
Then, at five months old, Greyson stopped. Kicked me off.
I still have no idea why he was no longer interested in breastfeeding, but every time I tried he’d fuss, turn his head away, or close his mouth in protest. I thought I would continue to pump, but soon I found my milk drying up. I was just devastated! So, we continued with formula until he began eating table foods and he’s been a healthy eater ever since.
With Olivia, and having that prior experience with breastfeeding, I didn’t set a goal. I’m just going with the flow of what she needs and doing what I can (like drink plenty of water, take my prenatals, etc.) to keep my supply going strong. I’m also freezing more of my milk this time around (just in case…) and trying to pump before nursing to keep the demand going. So far, even just a month in, Livie and I are doing great and found our groove!
The Pumping Rules
When I first began pumping I was overwhelmed with all of the rules! It was a touch confusing at first, but like anything, it got easier. The number one rule I learned was to label my bottles after each pumping session with the date and time. This is because when you either refrigerate or freeze your milk you want to use the oldest milk first and not just by the date. The time you pump is important – especially if you’re leaving your milk out at room temperature.
So, this means after every session I need to label every bottle. Easy enough.
So, I grabbed what I had on-hand, which happened to be painters tape. I liked that it would adhere, but peel easily when I went to wash the bottles. However, this became tedious because it required me to cut down the tape into manageable pieces and at 2am that was the last thing I wanted to do.
That’s when I took to the internet to find a way that allowed me to work smarter, not harder. That’s when I had the idea of using eraseable labels!
Using Avery Eraseable Labels
Because I reuse my Medela bottles on the regular I was in need of some kind of label that could also be reusable. I also needed a label that was durable and could withstand routine cleanings. I tried traditional labels but found that they peeled and wouldn’t stick to the bottles with the condensation that builds on the bottle. So, I took to Amazon to see if erasable labels existed.
And they do!
These Avery Multi-Use Labels that are eraseable have quickly become my favorite mom hack thus far. They have been a great way to keep my pumped milk organized in the fridge. I simply adhere the labels to my bottles and use a dry-erase marker to write the date and time. After I’m finished, I erase, clean, pump, and write the new date.
These labels are the perfect size for using on the vials that come with my pump (and a few the hospital provided before being discharged) as well as the Medela bottles. I simply adhere them to each bottle I plan to use while pumping and use a dry-erase marker to write the date and time. It then goes right into the fridge.
What it’s not good for…
Although this has been a great hack for room temperature or refrigerated breastmilk, I don’t recommend it for freezing or traveling with as it can easily be wiped off. I use freezer storage bags where you I write the time and date directly on it and for traveling bottles I use a simple sticker.
An organized pumping station
Our bedroom is where I do most of my pumping and I knew I wanted to create a little space where I could keep all of my pumping parts. I started with using my bedside nightstand, but that quickly became overwhelmed with the pump, tubes, and parts that needed to be washed. Needless to say, I desired something a little more organized.
I found this three-tiered cart from Michael’s (shop similar) on sale and went ahead and bought it. I originally thought to use it to keep my lettering stuff organized, but thought to give it a little more purpose. So, it’s become my mobile pumping station instead.
On the top part I keep my pump along with my bottles, tubes, extra parts, my hands-free pumping bra, and other goodies like nipple cream. The middle rack is where I keep the plastic basin I snagged from the hospital and that is where I place the parts that I’ve used and are in need of cleaning. I easily take the basin downstairs to clean what’s inside then bring it back up. I’ve also dedicated a hand-towel to be my breastfeeding towel – a convenient way to catch any runaway breastmilk when taking the pump off. The bottom rack holds my pump’s travel case and other items I rarely use or need.