Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My thoughts on Pumping...

Please disregard this post if you care nothing about this topic or don't want to hear about it!
I've had a few people ask me about this so this is for them.

First of all I'm going to be straight up with how I feel on this topic. It has nothing to do with anyone else and is completely based on my opinions alone. I know everyone usually has their own opinions on breastfeeding/formula feeding etc.

So this is my story. When Maren was born she lost 11% of her birth weight while we were at the hospital. She had trouble latching on and feeding. We worked and worked and I was distraught because I knew she was hungry but wouldn't eat. We did everything we could possibly do and met with every lactation consultant in that hospital for 3 days straight. Finally someone gave me a shield and that really did the trick. Then the milk came in and it was going pretty well but it took a good 45min- 1 hour to feed her. I was so grateful she was eating well I didn't care for the first several weeks while I tried to get her back to birth weight.  At her 2 week appt she was there and we celebrated. The only problem was that I was insanely exhausted from only sleeping 1-2hrs at a time but was so thankful she was gaining weight.
After 2 weeks I would pump occasionally after her morning feeding to start getting a supply built up in the freezer and then started to pump instead of actually feeding her. I would just pump to replace a feeding maybe like 2 times a day. When my mom was here or on the weekends they would take one of the night feedings so I could get a 5-6 hour stretch in. I cannot even tell you how much of a difference this made for me. I finally was able to get some rest and I think it helped me adjust better to this sudden change in my life. It also helped me a ton with the baby blues.
I also really loved that other people and especially Marc were able to feed her and that I was not her only source of food. It made me feel like she wouldn't get an unhealthy attachment to me and I know Marc really loved getting to participate and bond with her as well.  For her to take a bottle was no big deal. She did great with it and I loved knowing exactly how much she was getting. I also think the shield helped make that transition a breeze.

We are really on-the-go people and don't do well staying in for lengthy amount of times, so pumping helps me keep that type of schedule. Once the holidays hit, I think I pumped probably 70-80% of the time. Mainly because we were so busy and grandparents enjoyed feeding her as well and getting their time in. Pumping never really bothered me and I felt like 15 minutes was so much quicker than the hour I would spend feeding her. She never got any quicker at eating and she continued to struggle staying latched on and it made me super tense and frustrated. Finally after Christmas and her getting increasingly more awful at nursing and me getting more frustrated each time I (and Marc) made the decision to exclusively pump. I know it sounds like double the work, but it actually isn't because my supply was well established.
Side Note- before I ever had her I was never really excited about the nursing thing. I think maybe its because I'm not a very sentimental person or maybe I like to rebel against society (not sure), but I never felt like it was a special "bonding" time for us . Maybe its because I was too uptight and had so many issues at the beginning, but I never loved it. It felt like a really stressful job and was not enjoyable nor beneficial to either one of us.
I do think breastmilk is the best thing for them at the beginning, especially in hopes that it gives them the antibodies needed so they won't get sick (which is why I still do it) but I do also feel that there is this ridiculous pressure from society today that puts all kinds of stress on mothers to do this for a ridiculous amount of time. And if you don't make it a certain amount of time, then your a "failure". I have to say it bothers me soo much (again my own opinions and how i feel). You do what you can to survive, and if I had a full time job, no way would I be keeping this up. Its tough. It takes sacrifice, commitment, time, and a lot of work.
Here's the thing, back in the day formula was the only way to go... my husband wasn't breastfed and he is really smart, he has no allergies, and turned out just fine. Same with me and my sister. I just feel like it changed somehwere down the road and now BF is the ONLY way or else your kids will be sick ALL the time or I could go on and on but you get the point.
I have several friends that absolutely love BFing and have done it well past a year. I envy them, I really do. They are serious heroes in my book because I just don't feel cut out for it or don't have what it takes.

All that to say I'm grateful that what God gave me does work and that I can provide food for my child. I'm thankful she hasn't been sick yet and I'm thankful its free.

So now that I exclusively pump I love that there is always a bottle available and we have one whenever needed.
Here is a schedule for those that have asked...
I pump right before I go to bed and first thing when I get up. Before my surgery I was doing it every 4-5 hours and since my surgery my supply has gone down a little so I do it only 3 times a day. I do it in the a.m, then at 3 or 4pm (or whenever she is napping)  and again before bed. It doesn't quite cover all of her feedings so I have to use 1 frozen bag a day from my freezer supply. My goal is to make it 6 months, but whenever I run out of freezer bags we will start supplementing with formula. About 4 weeks ago I got very weary and really wanted to quit because it was hurting soo badly. But I finally got calloused over and now it doesn't hurt so bad anymore (gross I know).

So there we go. These 2 things have saved my life

1.The medela bustier. it allows me to be hands free in case I have to feed her at the same time or I can pump and get ready at the same time.
 2. The medela freestyle pump. It is also hands free and works awesome.


emily said...

1. I totally agree about societal pressures to breastfeed. Way too much pressure being placed on us poor mommas!

2. Have they checked M's tongue to make sure it isn't tied? We found out (after 9 months of failing to thrive) that my son's tongue was tied. It is making all the difference in the world having that corrected.

3. You're doing great! Pumping is hard work and your sweet little daughter is grateful for it! :)

Stephanie Lee said...

Thanks so much for this article. It is exactly what I needed to read.

Charlotte said...

I think you made the right decision for you and your family, and it's true that the pressure on new mothers is insane! I am actually typing this as I pump at work, wearing my own Medela bustier - it does look a little strange but don't worry, the door is locked! It's a huge time commitment and I honestly don't know how much longer I'll be able to keep it up. I'm impressed with your commitment.

Amber said...

I found your blog through Mindy B's blog, and I had to read this post because I too suffered with the societal pressures and the guilt that came with not BF when it was a complete disaster for me and my son. I thought you might enjoy my post I did when he was an infant (he's now almost 20 months - thriving, smart, funny, and hardly ever sick!) Do what's best for you and your family and leave the societal pressure behind! You're a great mom for making these big decisions and knowing what's best for you and your sweet girl.

Sarah Autry said...

Same here! I only started feeling stress-free about parenting when I STOPPED breastfeeding because it was so difficult (Titus did the same 45min feeding only with a shield, thing). Kudos on continuing to pump, that's hard work too!
P.S. at least you're burning calories! :)

Anonymous said...

Well written. I completely agree. Do what works. I pumped for nearly 6 months with my daughter who was a premmie. She couldn't latch on, I had oversupply issues so a bottle of breastmilk worked fabulously for her. My son was too hungry from day 1 and no amount of lactation consultant advice could save my nipples from him. So on the advice of a lactation consultant, I pumped for him too. Only for a few months. I agree that more women need to choose what works for them AND their family. For me, that was express breast milk bottles. Not breastfeeding, not formula. And that doesn't make me any better or worse a Mum than a breast feeding Mum.

Nikki said...

I agree 100%.
Stay true to yourself -- that pressure will continue as your child grows (store-bought baby food vs. homemade baby food; organic vs. non-organic; tv vs. no tv, etc etc) Our society is very critical and judgmental of one another when it comes to raising our kids. It's sad that we're not more supportive of each other...

trina said...

I'm going through this right now. We had to supplement in the hospital because of her weight loss and I haven't been able to get her latched on since. I met with an LC last night and now have a medical grade pump that I am using to try and increase my supply. Pumpkin is at three weeks and I know that if I can't get her latched, I may lose my (small) supply and that makes me sad.

I am pumping 4-5 times a day and the LC wants me to pump 8 times. I can't imagine doing this for 6 months. Everything is so tiring and I feel like I'm missing out on time with pumpkin otherwise.

It is really hard because I know breastmilk is best so i am giving it all I can. But wow is this hard.

Carly Grace said...

It's tough being a mom! So much societal pressure! I'm experiencing this in other realms of parenthood and Gil's only 1 month! I know that pressure will continue as your they grow too :( Don't worry about being "mom enough" in the area of breastfeeding or anything else! Our society tells us we are in control of our children's destiny through so many areas of control, including breastfeeding. Remind me of this very encouragement whenever I feel "mom-judged"! It's a tough world out there!