We're happy to share a guest post by our friend Gini and her breastfeeding experience. The story of the breastfeeding journey she and her daughter went on will be shared here in parts. Today we conclude with part 2.
We brought the boobs full and the baby hungry and were primed for some breastfeeding lessons from a pro. Claire got naked and weighed, and then we nursed. Fifteen minutes on each side. Weighed again, and she pretty much shocked us all. She had only taken half an ounce in thirty minutes of nursing. At this rate, she would still not get enough if she was attached to the boob 24/7. I felt so deflated, like I wasn’t doing something right.
We tried again, this time with the lactation consultant all up in my business and touching my boobs more than my husband had in months. Claire started screaming. And I started crying. My mom sees me crying and she starts crying. I’m sure we were a sight to behold. Claire was starving and I felt like my boobs were going to literally explode in her face. To offer me some relief, the lactation consultant suggested I pump. Since I am notorious for forgetting things, I had never been so glad to have remembered a little black backpack in my life.
Mom and I had gone to Babies R Us when Claire was a few days old for a few minutes out of the house and to buy a pump. I knew that I would like to have the option of leaving Claire for a few hours or to have my husband feed her one middle-of-the-night when I couldn’t drag myself out from under the sheets. Armed with coupons (you can read more about my couponing tips and tricks here) we set out for what would be the single most used baby item in my house. Mom bought me the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Backpack (which is a double-electric) for a little more than $200.
And man, was it the best $200 bucks she’d ever spent! Not only did the pump give me relief in the lactation room, but it would go on to help me feed my baby for nearly six months. I told her that I wasn’t necessarily tied to the idea of feeding Claire from the breast- as long as she was fed- I was okay. So the decision was made, with great encouragement from the consultant and my mom… I would exclusively pump. She gave me loads of information on how to create and maintain a solid milk supply. Letting down with a pump is quite different than with a nursing infant, so I still had a lot to learn.
She put me on some supplements and a schedule. I was to pump 15 minutes every three hours during the day and every four hours at night, for a total of seven times in 24 hours. I was also to use the let-down button on the pump every five minutes so that I could have three separate let downs during each pumping session. I also was fitted for a correctly size breast shield and picked up another set of pump parts, both of which saved my life.
In the beginning, this is what my day looked like:
7am- Wake up, shower, eat breakfast
8am- Claire wakes up, feed/ change/ dress baby
9am- Pump, wash and make bottles for the day, clean pump parts from overnight (Claire is awake so she sits on the bed with me while I pump, and I wear her or she plays on the floor while I clean)
10am- Feed Claire
Noon- Claire is napping while I pump
1pm- Feed Claire, wash bottles and pump parts from morning (Luke is home for lunch so he plays with Claire while I make lunch, we both eat and I clean up)
3pm- Claire is napping while I pump
4pm- Feed Claire
5pm- Make Dinner
6pm- Pump, wash bottles and pump parts from the afternoon
7pm- Feed Claire, Eat Dinner
8pm- Bathe Claire, Put her to bed
9pm- Pump, wash parts so as to have two clean sets for overnight pumping, make night time bottles
10pm- Go to bed (or try to J)
Midnight- DH dreamfeeds Claire
2am- Feed Claire
5am- Pump and Feed Claire
Start all over again at 7am
I’ll admit it was rough at first, but I got the hang of it. And my husband helped (as much as he could short of hooking himself up to the pump). In the beginning, I had trouble pumping an ounce per session, but when I began to wean four months later I was pumping nearly 10 ounces per session. And once your supply is established (around two months for me) you can eliminate one night time feeding (pump at 3am rather than 1am and 5am). And once your supply goes back up (like a week later) you can eliminate a day time pumping (1pm and 5pm rather than noon, 3pm and 6pm).
I pumped and I pumped for a little more than four months. I was able to feed my daughter and freeze over 1000 ounces of breast milk to take her almost to six months old. And I didn’t have any trouble weaning from the pump. I took the maximum dosage of Sudafed (and it’s safe to give your baby breast milk while taking this), got back on birth control (both of which will help dry of your milk) and cut one pumping session every three days.
Exclusively pumping (EPing) is an option. I am so glad someone gave me this option. It gave me a great sense of accomplishment that I was able to breastfeed my baby when nursing didn’t work for either of us. You need the support and understanding of family and friends. It is very difficult (or for me it was) to care for the baby while attached to a machine. EPing is an option that worked for me and my family. You have to do what works best for you and your family.
Luke and I do want to have more children (at least one, maybe two more). I think I will try to breastfeed, but first read and try to learn more about feeding from the breast. If it doesn't work, like it didn't for Claire, that's fine. Or if I find feeding from teh breast to be more convenient, that's fine too. It's comforting knowing that exclusively pumping will always be an option.