Hey Y’all Hey! Kijan ou Ye! How are you doing?
Who said pumping was easy? Here I am 5 months postpartum and I’ve been exclusively pumping for the past four months. Surprisingly, after 4 months of trying and feeling defeated, Izzy finally latched on to the breast! So I now pump 90% of the time and fed directly from the breast at night and on weekends since I am a mom that works away from home.
Can we stop giving mothers grief that pump and/or supplement with formula?!?! I find it absolutely ridiculous seeing people chastise mothers that do. You do not know what struggles that mother is going through. Not all mothers can produce milk. Not all babies like breastmilk. Not all babies latch. FED IS BEST! Whatever you fed your baby is your choice and you shouldn’t feel less than if you cannot produce milk. You do what’s right for you!
Let’s rewind to five months ago when baby boy arrived…
Izzy was taken to the NICU due to respiratory issues (read more about the birth here), so unfortunately, we didn’t get that initial one on one till he was two days old.
Throughout my pregnancy my doctor and I would discuss if I was going to breastfeed and for how long. Well my goal is to breastfeed for a minimum of one year. So here we are in the hospital and my milk supply is nonexistent and baby boy isn’t latching even with the numerous help from the lactation nurse. However, I knew I had to keep expressing to my body to produce more milk. Although I was tired, my nurse encouraged me to start pumping to start producing milk. Those first pumping sessions resulted in nothing. I didn’t start seeing my milk production until day 4. It was only an ounce but I was elated.
During Izzy’s stay in the NICU he was being fed formula (the Similac brand) and he was hardly eating. The struggle it took for my lil guy to eat 20ml was unreal. Luckily for us, my milk production started to increase. Although I was only producing at most 2 ounces, it was a starting point. And at this point to help Izzy gain weight since he was a preemie, his pediatrician advised me to start mixing the breastmilk with Neosure (I did this for a month and a half).
Now let’s get on to the real reason you’re here! Pumping! Pumping is a struggle! Pumping is exhausting! I’ve never been so sleep deprived in my life. I pump and don’t get much sleep. I don’t want to complain because I know the end result is feeding my baby boy what he needs which is all the wonderful nutrients and benefits from the Liquid Gold. But if I’m being honest, then this mama is always tired. All I do is pump, feed baby, take care of baby and eat! Then repeat! So, whoever said to sleep when baby sleeps is a liar! At times, I’m burdened with guilt when I don’t pump. Guilt of wanting to sleep longer because I love my sleep. Guilt of skipping a pumping session because I choose to go out.
Experts say you should pump at least 8x within a 24 hour period to keep the flow of your milk production at its maximum. When I was on maternity leave, I was pumping every 3 hours. And that is every 3 hours from the time you start not the time you finish. I even had an alarm on my phone to remind myself to pump. The thing with pumping is that’s not your only job. After you pump, you have to transfer the milk into a storage bag and clean the parts you just used before the next session. Pumping really is another chore. Before every pumping session I made sure to have my phone or a book handy or the remote control because I would be in that position for at least 20 minutes.
It was recommended to get a hospital grade pump, so I got the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump through my insurance carrier. I choose the pump that came with a mini cooler bag and ice pack because I knew I needed that once I returned back to work to transport the milk home. First off, if this is your first time using a pump the noise will annoy you at first but overtime it will become music to your ears. Second, all the parts you have to clean after every use is too much. It’s like assembling a toy and undoing it 10x a day.
As a first time mom, I honestly thought all I needed was the pump. However, I came to realize when I was in the hospital that I needed to pump hands free so the lactation nurse made a makeshift nursing bra for me. So, for all the first time moms, here is a list of must haves:
Breastfeeding Must Haves:
- If you are exclusively breastfeeding, you will still need a pump to release the milk when you become engorged.
- Hands Free Nursing Bra
- A MUST! If you want to be hands free then getting a nursing bra should be at the top of your list.
- Nursing Cream
- This was a life saver for my chapped and sore nipples. It provided so much relief. I applied it before and after every pumping session,
- Nursing Pads
- If you are a mama that leaks then nursing pads will save you from having wet spots on your shirts.
- Milk Storage Bags
- I find it easier to store the milk in storage bags rather than bottles. It takes up less space in your fridge and/or freezer.
- Lactation Supplements
- Not ever mom produces in excess. I surely do not produce an excess amount of milk. My body produces only enough to feed his current needs which is 100ml every 3 to 4 hours. However I would like to produce extra so, taking supplements is a must for me. Currently I have Mother’s Milk Tea, Blessed Thistle Herb + Fenugreek Seek Capsules, Goat’s Rue Capsules and Munchkin Milkmakers Lactation Cookie Bites in rotation to increase my milk production
As I previously stated, my milk supply was low in the beginning. Now, thankfully I’m able to pump to match what Izzy needs. Unfortunately, a month after returning back to work, my supply started to diminish and I was devastated because my plan is to pump for at least a year. So I did my research and started taking supplements.
Before taking the supplements, I was producing about 2 to 2.5 ounces per pumping session. Now that it has been about a month since taking taking the capsules, my milk production has increased to 4-5 ounces per session and sometimes I can get 7-8 ounces. I take 2 capsules of the Goat’s Rue when I wake up and 2 more before I go to bed. The Blessed Thistle Herb + Fenugreek Seed, I take 2 capsules during breakfast and lunch. Now I use to drink the Mother’s Milk Tea but it leaves a bad after taste which after reading the ingredients I saw that it contains licorice and I hate licorice.
Since I was only producing enough to feed baby needs, I use to literately cry over spilled milk. It’s so crazy that I can spend countless hours of my life just sitting attached to an electric pump. I would just stare at every milk drop falling into the bottle hoping and praying for it to fill up. Like I said pumping is a commitment. You are either all in or you feel defeated.
Pumping exclusively was never part of my plan, but little man came early so here we are. Pumping is a full-time commitment, you will be exhausted but the benefits for my little man outweighs everything.
Stay tuned for part 2 where I provided an in-depth review of Elvie which is a wearable pump that’s perfect for moms on the go.
Live with purpose, Love with passion, Laugh with pleasure
8 Comments Add yours
Pumping is hard work! You are doing a great job momma!!!!
These tips are very handy, especially for first-time moms. I’ll ask my colleague to take a look.
One of my closest friends pumped exclusively for months too – it was such a labor of love, effort, and some tears too. I completely agree that fed is best.
This was a beautiful and insightful post – I never realized how potent and powerful supplements were in this case. And it is really wonderful to hear the ups and downs you faced.
As an exclusive pumper for the first year I can commiserate!
Have you heard about power pumping?
That seemed to help me out.
I have tried power pumping as well. Unfortunately it did not work for me.
Pumping is hard, and it’s not the answer for everyone. Everyone’s got their own story <3
Everyone’s story is indeed unique and should be heard.