Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Weigh-in Wednesday - My Breastfeeding Chronicles

 For today's Weigh-in Wednesday, I wanted to share with you my personal experience with breastfeeding this go round. I thought it would be nice to have more information out there discussing women who exclusively pump and why we choose to go this route.

First and foremost, I want to state that I believe every woman has a right to choose whichever path she wants to in this area.  This is a VERY personal decision and something that only a mother can make.  Whether you want to exclusively feed from your breast, pump, feed formula or go the route of a combination of the above, it is YOUR decision.  I personally feel like every mother is doing what is best for her own situation and what is best for her baby/child and should be treated with respect no matter what route she goes!!

I also wanted to state that due to my own experience, I felt that sharing it would assist other women in knowing other options that are available that might not be discussed with them as they try to navigate the crazy/fun/stressful/enjoyable whirl wind that is breastfeeding.

After having my daughter (Sep 2012)  I couldn't seem to find much information/help on how to breastfeed properly. I also feel like the bumps in the road came from it being a new experience, her being born early (she was smaller and not as strong in her sucking capabilities) and me having post partum depression.  We did a little breastfeeding, a little pumping and then just decided to switch to fully feeding her formula when she was only a few weeks old.

This go round I decided that I really wanted to give breastfeeding a better shot. I wasn't too sure where to start, but I at least started with a higher motivational drive to make this work.

Once my son was born...on a Saturday...when the lactation consultant isn't working...I was a little nervous that this was going to go down the same path that we went on with my daughter. However, we had an AMAZING pediatric nurse who was very helpful in helping my son to latch and making sure that he was properly drinking. It was wonderful and exciting and I was still nervous to see if this would keep up.

The remainder of my stay at the hospital went well, and all the nurses were so stinking helpful!! (I didn't have the best experience with the staff who was working when I had my daughter.) When we left the hospital, my son had only dropped from 7 lbs 9 oz down to 7 lbs 6 oz so we knew he was getting nourishment from me.

However, once I made it home it was a different story. He wasn't latching properly and my nipples were becoming sore, cracking and bleeding. I mean, I would cringe every time it was time for him to eat because I knew how painful it was. I asked friends and family for advice and we also set-up an appointment for a lactation consult. After that consultation, things got a little better and then took a huge nose dive once I lost the proper latching technique and got a lovely (sarcasm) case of mastitis...this was when I hit my point of mental breakdown and had one full day of crying thinking that I was just going to have to give up. Here are some thoughts that went through my head:
  • People are telling me that it could be 2 weeks to 2 MONTHS before this breastfeeding thing will become enjoyable...I will go mental if I wait that long.
  • Plus I really want to enjoy my maternity leave and I only get 6 weeks to enjoy this time with my son.
  • Blah...
  • My son isn't getting the nutrition that he needs and he's not gaining any weight...I'm starving my child.
  • I'm NOT enjoying this at just HURTS!
  • Booooo. :-(
  • This started off so well, why the heck can't I just get this to work?!?
  • I want to pump, but people are telling me that skin to skin contact is vital and that direct from breast feeding is the only way to keep producing milk.
  • Ugh....
So I went to a Milk Matters meeting here in town and the lady gave me the best piece of advice possible (after seeing how bad my nipples looked), "Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand, if you empty your breast it will fill back up. So if it's not more painful to pump, you should start pumping and feed him that way until you're healed and then you can go back to feeding from the breast." I was hit with a huge feeling of relief...I could actually breastfeed my baby through exclusively pumping!! If I WANTED to go back to direct from breast feeding I could...but I didn't HAVE to.

When I started telling friends that we'd made the choice to exclusively pump I started hearing more and more stories of other women who did the same thing. I was in complete shock at how many women actually do this!!! Everything I'd ever read, had ever been told or had ever assumed were huge pushes for direct from breast feeding, even for women who go back to work and pump during the day...they should do all of their at home feedings directly from the breast. In the words of Mel Gibson I felt like yelling...


I started down the path of exclusively pumping to feed my son and the start was a little rocky/emotional because my supply had tanked from the complications of direct from breastfeeding and some ill advice about not pumping after my direct from breast feedings due to, "women's obsession with over production these days." I devoured as much information as I could about boosting your supply and started pumping every 2-3 hours instead of directly feeding my son and my supply started increasing and increasing and the point that I could start freezing milk for use later.

Now I am up to about 30 - 34 oz of milk production a day and still making more than what my son eats (he is 10 weeks old, so his appetite will continue to increase and probably surpass this production). I pump about 5 times a day now and I don't wake up overnight to pump, these are all personal preferences and not something I'd suggest to every woman as everyone's body is different...but know that it does work for at least one person out in this world! :-D I typically pump first thing in the morning (around 4:30/5:00) and then about every 4 hours after that with my last pumping ending right before I go to bed (around 9:30 - 10:00).

I do have moments where I contemplate trying the direct from breast feeding again, but those moments last about 1 minute before I remember the awful pain I dealt with and quickly get over it. LOL. I also remind myself of these awesome positives to exclusively pumping:
  • I still get to provide my son food directly from my body.
  • My husband gets to bond with him by feeding him too.
  • Our son was already use to the bottle before heading to a daycare once I returned to work.
  • I was already use to pumping before heading back to work.
  • I know exactly how much I'm making each day and how much my son is eating.
  • I am not his pacifier (I personally don't want to be used for this reason and this eliminates that from happening).
  • Oh yeah, and no more cracked and bleeding nipples to deal more pain!!!
Our plan is to continue pumping and feeding our son breastmilk until he is 1 years old, at that time we will transition him to regular dairy milk. I'm trying to save up enough breastmilk that I won't have to pump for a full year and at some point can stop pumping, but still providing him with breastmilk. There are always circumstances that can arise with breastfeeding, whether you are feeding directly from the breast or exclusively pumping, that can cause your production to cease. I know that this could happen at any time, but instead of worrying about that I'm focusing on the enjoyment of the here and now.

Again, this was my own experience (10 weeks into this postpartum period), but one that I felt I needed to share with other women in the world.

Here are a couple of resources that I've turned to during my exclusive pumping time:
Did you exclusively pump with your kids? What pieces of advice do you have for other women? What questions do you have that I can answer or point you in the right direction?

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