I know a lot about pumping and Medela's products because I went back to work full time with my Pump in Style when Lauren was 8 weeks old. At peak, I pumped at home in the morning before I left, then at work 2 times, and then once in the evening after Lauren fell asleep. I went through a lot of trial and error so I learned a lot about pumping. Here are some things I learned:
- Morning pumping always has the most milk, and less comes out as the day goes on. This is normal. If at the last pump of the day, not much is coming out, fiddle with the pump's knobs to get the letdown reflex more than once and keep drinking water throughout the day.
- You need to set aside about 15 minutes to pump, but much of that time goes to disassembling and sterlizing the pump parts. If you use a double pump, you'll get twice as much out in the same time. I used to use an Avent Steam sterilizer when at home (makes a great drying rack, too) and the Medela Quick-clean Micro-steam bags when at work or traveling. Medela has since come out with some special Quickclean wipes that I can't wait to try, as they will save time in the clean-up/sterilizing phase.
- You don't have to just use the bottles that come with the pump, you can fit many other brands on and pump directly in using the bottle the baby will drink from. I had Dr. Brown's bottles and the narrow size fit the pump perfectly.
- I found it easier to pump into bottles and dump the milk into the bags, because if I needed to set everything down, the pump set-up comes with little yellow plastic "feet" that the bottles stand on, so they won't tip over. Set down the bags before they're full, and they might just spill. You don't want that! Also, don't overfill the bags, they might leak. (They show the limit line on the bags, but if you have just a little extra, it's tempting to keep going...)
- Milk comes out better if you are fully relaxed, easier said than done! But to help, lock the door of the room where you're pumping, so you don't have to worry about Bob from Accounting barging in. ;) And have a magazine or something mindless to do so you're not stressed while pumping. Pictures of the baby help the letdown reflex, too.
- When organizing the milk, put the most recent milk in back and the oldest in front. You can label the date with a piece of masking tape on the bottle, or write directly on the bags if you're freezing them. I kept a Sharpie in the pump bag, it was easier than pressing with a ball-point pen.
- If for some reason the pump does not seem as effective after awhile, change out the membranes. They are little white pieces that are only $1 each and they can wear out after awhile. Really easy to pull them out and put new ones on, takes half a second!
If you have any questions or suggestions for other moms, feel free to post a comment for me and I will do my best to answer. Another great resource is Medela's webpage.
Final tip: If you end up having extra milk, consider donating it to a local mom in need. Milkshare is a great resource for matching donors with recipients. It is illegal in most states to sell breast milk, so you cannot accept money for it, but the recipient should provide you with milk storage bags, a cooler (if you are shipping the milk) and perhaps other things that you need in conjunction with pumping.