I’m sharing my daily pumping routine using the Spectra S1 + a free printable pumping door hanger for you to use!
I’ve been back to work from maternity leave for almost three months now and I’ve finally gotten into a nice pumping routine that works well for me so I wanted to share it with all the other mamas out there! When I was thinking about going back to work, I was so stressed about pumping. I heard so many horror stories about mothers’ milk supplies tanking and not being able to produce enough, the pain of finding a place to pump at work, and traveling for work while pumping.
To add on to that stress, Isaac has a dairy intolerance, meaning he cannot tolerate any form of dairy that I consume (milk, cream, cheese, butter) through breast milk. I had to eliminate all dairy from my diet starting when Isaac was just two weeks old. Since he has a dairy intolerance, he also cannot handle any type of conventional formula since they all contain dairy (except for one that would cost us approximately $1 million dollars a month…okay, maybe not that much but we did not want to have to supplement with expensive formula). This really added an additional stressor to pumping – I had to produce enough for Isaac because I really did not have another choice!
In the past three months, I finally feel like I have gotten pumping down to a fine science and I want to share my routine and the tricks I’ve learned along the way. I still make mistakes – inadvertently skipping pumping sessions, forgetting supplies at home, and leaving 12 ounces of milk in my pump bag overnight (I’m still crying about this one), but most days I manage to stay on track. Below I’ll share with you the supplies I use and my everyday routine.
I spent about two weeks just researching breast pumps when I was pregnant. There are SO many options out there and it was all overwhelming. I read reviews anywhere I could find them online and I talked to other mothers in various Facebook groups. The winner all around seemed to be the Spectra S1. I have to say – the reviews were so on point, I love this pump! It is super gentle but it is so effective! Not to mention, it has a rechargeable battery so it can go cordless (lifesaver). I also love that it has multiple settings. The learning curve is a little steep (for me at least). I had to clue how to work this thing when I first tried to use it. It was a mess! But, I’ve since figured out all the different settings and discovered the ones that my body responds to best. I will share that later in the post.
P.S. – I was able to get the Spectra S1 though my insurance. I went through Aeroflow Breastpumps to get mine. They handle getting the prescription from your OB and getting everything taken care of through your insurance. I made sure to get this all taken care of while I was pregnant. Definitely check them out before getting your pump! It was super easy to do.
When I first tried to pump, I had no idea that there were different size flanges out there. I thought it was a one size fits all type thing. Man, was I wrong. Since Spectra has a limited selection of flange sizes, I discovered these Maymom attachments on Amazon that work with Spectra pumps. I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure you are using the right flange sizes! You will not have as much output with the wrong size flanges and it could lead to clogged ducts if you continue using the wrong size for too long. You can easily get sized using Maymom’s resources, a breastfeeding support group on Facebook (My favorite is Breast, Bottle, and Beyond. The admins of the page can help you get sized properly.), or by a certified lactation consultant. Also, be sure to get at least one extra set of parts. That way you are not having to wash and sanitize parts every single night. I have two sets and basically wash and sanitize every other night.
I also ordered these attachments so that I could pump into wide neck bottles (Avent Natural or the Spectra bottles).
I LOVE this bra. I tried the popular Medela hands free pumping bra. It’s great but it’s not comfortable to wear as a “real” bra all day. The Dairy Fairy bra is great because you can wear it all day, pump, and nurse with it. It just makes my life so much easier.
A Pumping Door Hanger
This is great for those times where you have to pump in rooms that do not have a lock or in other weird spaces.
Click here to download the free printable door hanger!
I keep a tiny container full of coconut oil in my pump bag for lubing my flanges. Trust me, you want to use something when you pump or it can be painful. Coconut oil works the best for me.
A Nice Pump Bag
I love the Sarah Wells Lizzy Breast Pump bag. I registered for this on my baby registry and was lucky enough to receive it. It is large enough to hold your pump, all accessories, snacks (very important), AND the side pockets are both insulated so no need to carry around a separate cooler bag for you milk.
Quality ice packs
I found these on Amazon and they were able to keep my milk chilled for eight hours one day when I was at an all-day training event at work. They are fabulous! They also produce minimal condensation so your whole bag won’t be wet from a melted ice pack.
I originally got a wet bag by Sarah Wells for my parts but I was having to wash it every day. I quickly retired that bag and now I exclusively use disposable gallon bags. I like to order the gallon zip locks in bulk on Amazon because we use them for everything in our house. I’m sorry, Mother Earth, for the massive quantities of Ziploc bags my household contributes to landfills. I recycle to offset my obsession with Ziplocs. Please forgive me.
These are amazing. Instead of having to boil water on the stove and sanitize parts and bottles for five minutes, you just put your parts in one of these bags with two ounces of water and microwave for three minutes. Game changer. Each bag is good for twenty uses. I ordered them in bulk on Amazon, too, since I use them every other night when I sanitize my parts.
Boon Grass Lawn and Twig
I think every mom knows about this but it really is great for drying all my parts and bottles after they are sanitized.
Isaac wakes up and eats for about 20 minutes
I usually try to do another quick nursing session with Isaac before he leaves for his great grandparents’ house.
Once Isaac leaves, I assemble all parts and lube my flanges with coconut oil. I put all parts in a gallon Ziploc and put in my pump bag. I also throw in a 9 ounce bottle and at least two 5-6 ounce bottles for pumping into. I make sure to have breast milk bags with me in case I need them to pump into. I like the Target Up & Up brand breast milk bags the best. I’ve never had a problem with them leaking. I will also throw in a bottle of water and any snacks into my pump bag for when I get hungry, which is always.
This is my first pumping session of the day and when I get the most milk. I normally pump between 5-7 ounces at this time. I combine everything I pump into my one 9 ounce bottle. I put my parts and the other bottle back into the Ziploc and place in the refrigerator. I do not wash the parts between pumping sessions as long as I can refrigerate my parts. I also place the milk in the fridge.
For the days when I do not have access to the mothers’ room at work with a private fridge (training, off-sites), I simply put an ice pack in the gallon zip lock with my parts and another ice pack in the insulated side pocket of my pump bag. This keeps everything cold for the whole day.
Here are my specific Spectra settings that give me the most output:
- Letdown mode (70) at suction level 3 for about 1-2 minutes until I get the first letdown.
- Expression mode (54) at suction level 4 until milk stops flowing. Once the milk stops flowing, I start the letdown mode again (70) for about 3-4 minutes until I get another letdown. I do this for about 20 minutes total.
Keep in mind, everyone responds differently to the pump. You may need more or less suction or speed. Just experiment until you find what works for you.
This is my second pumping session of the day. I normally get 3-4 ounces at this session. I follow the exact same routine as above. I continue to add to my 9 ounce bottle until it’s full. Once I fill that bottle, I combine into one of the 5-6 ounce bottles.
This is my last pumping session of the day. I normally get about 2-3 ounces at this session. Keep in mind, most people will gradually produce less as it gets later in the day as your prolactin (the hormone that tells your body to produce milk) levels decrease. Also, you may produce more or less than what I produce. Every woman is different! You are producing exactly what your baby needs at that specific moment in time, which is what makes breastfeeding so cool.
I immediately put my milk in the fridge at home. I then fill my sink with hot (scalding hot) water and a little bit of blue Dawn dish soap. I let the parts and bottles soak for about 20-30 minutes. I then rinse each part and place into a Medela Quick Steam bag and sanitize. I normally have to break this up into a couple of different batches because not all of the parts fit into the bag at once. Then I place everything on the Boon Grass lawn to dry overnight. I normally wash and sanitize every other night since I have two sets of parts.
That’s it! It’s really not that hard once you get into the routine of things. The thing that keeps me going is knowing that I’m providing awesome nutrition for my little guy!
Do you have any pumping tips and tricks to share with me? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on social media!
*This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.