Pumping in the hospital

Visitor (not verified)
anonymous user
Registered: 12-31-1969
Pumping in the hospital
Wed, 09-05-2012 - 1:19pm

Hello all!  I am going to be having my first baby in the next week or so, and I have made the decision to EP.  I know this is not exactly a popular thing to do, so I am very nervous about how the hospital will treat me (accommodate me) when I go in for delivery.  Not having every delivered a baby, I'm a little unsure about how the entire process will happen anyways.  A few of the specific things I'm wondering about are:  will I be able to pump before she actually delivers in order to have a bottle ready when she arrives, will the hospital treat me negatively for my decision, will they store my bottles for me when I pump, and what should I do and have with me to make it easier on myself and the hospital staff?  These may be really juvenile questions, but since I've never done any of this before, I feel pretty unsure about everything that is about to happen.  I would appreciate any advice or guidance that can be offered.  Thanks!

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-15-2012
Re: Pumping in the hospital
Sat, 09-08-2012 - 5:20pm

not sure what your reasoning for wanting to EP is, but it is so much harder than simply breastfeeding. I  have had to EP with my youngest due to latch reasons, but I wish I would have tried harder to get him to latch. ONce I started EP'ing I realized how difficult it is. NOt trying to discourage you becuase it is better than feeing formula but just know you don't have an easy road ahead of you. Good luck

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-24-2008
Mon, 09-10-2012 - 12:03pm

I have pumped for 3 kids now, so have some experience pumping in the hospital.  With my first I intended/tried to directly breastfeed, but she had a poor such reflex and simply wouldn't latch.  After 2 days of getting absolutely nothing, the LC started basically using a syringe to shoot formula into her mouth since she was loosing too much weight, and having me start pumping with a hospital pump between nursing attempts.  I switched to a Medela pump in style when I went home from the hospital at 3 days, and my milk started coming in for real at about 4 days - I was able to switch to syringing breast milk into her mouth with the syringe rather than formula by day 4.  I kept trying to nurse her for about 2 weeks, but she never latched well, and her attempts left her frustrated and screaming, and my nipples bruised and bloody.  I saw several LCs, with no improvement.  By the end of two weeks I was making double what she needed pumping, and she learned to take a bottle OK, so I could stop syringe feeding, so I just switched to pumping.  Pumped for a year for her.

When number 2 came along, I also tried to nurse him.  He did latch OK, but by the end of the first day my nipples were again cracked and bleeding - think I am just very sensative. So when we got home from the hospital the next day (only stayed 24 hours the 2nd time) I just switched to pumping for him - pumped for 10 months, until my milk dried up when I got pregnant with number 3, but had enough frozen to make it to a year.  I had no epidural with number 2, due to arriving at the hospital about 15 minutes before he was born, so my milk came in strong day 2 and I was able to not use any formula.

With number 3 I knew I just wanted to pump (I have always gone back to work after 6 weeks, and do frequent overnight trips so would have had to mostly pump anyway even if I could get the baby to nurse at first). So I brought my trusty pump to the hospital, along with my gear, and started pumping every 3 hours once I got to a room after L&D (about 2 hours after birth). I simply told the nurse that was what I was doing, and had done it twice before, and had not problems.  With number 3 I had an epidural again, so my milk didn't come in well until day 4, so had to use a bit of formula until then - I think the fluid overload from the IV tends to do this.

You won't need to worry about a mini fridge unless you stay in the hospital several days - you will only get a few drops to ml of colustrum per pump until your milk comes in for real, and you can suck this out of the pump bottles and feed to baby with a syringe withing a few hours of pumping it, so no need to mess with cooling and reheating.  You also can just rinse the flanges with water for the first few days - don't need to go crazy with the dish soap - since you literally will be pumping a few drops of colostrum.  You may need to use some formula unless your milk comes in very quickly - babies are better at getting the thick colostrum out than a pump is, so your baby may start to dehydrate a bit unless you supplement if you are pumping only.  The nurse told me that newborns in the first few days usually get 10-20 ml per feeding every 3 hours or so, so I would use formula to make up the difference in what I was short until my milk came in well enough to just make up bottles and let baby take what they wanted.  You could also try directly nursing until your milk comes in, to let baby get more colostrum (this was my theory with number 2, until I gave up due to the pain, but I think this is weird thing with me and not common - I had inverted nipples before my first was born).

Since this is your first time pumping, you probably want to try out several different flange sizes to find out which works best for you - the standard 25 mm are actually too small for 75% of women (I use the 30 ml extra large, and am not what you would call big). An LC can help you fit the flanges, or go on the Medela site for drawings of what the flange should look like around your nipple.