For many weeks, I tried breastfeeding the traditional way. After I realized it just wasn’t going to work for us, I made the decision to exclusively pump. After that decision was made, my life got a lot easier.
Unfortunately, exclusively pumping is a little bit more work. It does take a little bit more time and a little more sterilization than breastfeeding. However, it has put my mind at ease and made feeding my child so much easier!
Confession #1: I don’t sterilize my breast pump supplies every time I pump.
A trick to keep yourself from sterilizing every time you pump is to keep your pieces in a gallon size Ziploc bag. After each pump, place them in your refrigerator. Your refrigerator will keep them at a temperature that is safe! (I just rinse everything off before putting it in the bag.) This tip has saved me so much time. I used to wash all of the pieces, then boil them, then dry them. This gets old every 3 hours!
When I first told the doctor that I thought I might exclusively pump, he was very against it. He told me that I would give up very soon and that it is too much work. I wish I could say he wasn’t, but he was right! One month into this whole thing I was totally over it! I told my husband every day that I wanted to stop. I was ready to switch to formula. I felt like I could be spending more time with her instead of sitting around pumping every three hours.
Confession #2: I occasionally skipped pumping sessions! (Or prolonged them.)
I’m not saying this is good advice, but if I didn’t prolong sessions or skip sessions occasionally, I would have gone nuts! Of course, in the very beginning, every drop was precious! I had to pump every time she ate. But if she slept longer than 3 hours, I would take that break for myself instead of hooking up to the pump. I only pumped when she ate. (Unless I felt like I was going to burst!)
At this point, I felt like I got nothing done but sitting in the nursery and pumping. I was so mad at myself. I wanted to kick myself for not continuing to breastfeed. It was so much easier! No bottles, no tubes, no pesky little pieces to scrub! But, then, when I thought about my breastfeeding experience, I realized this was what was best.
Breastfeeding for me was awful. To be honest, it was an experience I will never forget, and one I don’t really want to remember. See, my little angel of a child has the suction power of a hoover vacuum. I got no relief. I was breastfeeding every hour. I cracked, I bled, I cried. I didn’t know what to do. My husband couldn’t help me, so I was up all night. I spent 85% of my time in a recliner in the nursery, and I was getting ready to go insane. After a few weeks of hearing “It will get better!” I stopped believing it.
Confession #3: I used every product I could to increase my milk supply.
My pumping sessions were disappointing in the beginning. My daughter was hungry, and I could barely keep up! She was downing ounce after ounce, and it was taking me forever to pump what she needed! So, I went to the trusty ole internet to see what I could do.
First, I ate oatmeal twice a day. I think using steel cut oats is supposed to be better, but I hate oatmeal, so I used flavored fruity oatmeal.
Second, I went to my OB to talk about my milk supply. She prescribed me a medicine called Reglan, which is used for stomach issues, but it actually makes people lactate even when they aren’t pregnant or nursing!
Third, I took fenugreek pills 3 times daily. It’s supposed to help your milk, and I would try anything at this point!
After doing all of this for about a week, I noticed an increase in my supply. However, I quickly got tired of taking so much medicine, and just stopped taking them.
Confession #4: I cried (tears of joy!) when my freezer began to fill up with milk!
After a grueling month, I finally started to see an increase in my milk supply. At first, I could get about 5 extra ounces per day stored in the freezer. Seeing this grow felt like such an accomplishment! I now have a pretty amazing supply.
Confession #5: I would supplement with formula if I had to.
Although I only had to do this a few times when I was figuring out my diet, I realized that supplementing with formula was not a bad thing. If I couldn’t pump enough milk, my baby would need something else to eat! Formula was made for this very reason. I am so glad we live in modern times where this is available. There were a few times in the beginning when my milk would upset my little one, and I had to try formula instead.
Confession #6: I want to quit. Every. Single Day.
Every time I sit down to pump, I want to quit. I want to wean. I want to break free of the chains! But, for some reason, I don’t do it. I think about the nutrition she is getting, and how far I have come, and I just can’t stop. Now, I have been able to extend my pumpings to every 8 hours! That’s only 3 times a day! I also have 400 ounces of milk stored in my freezer. I am so glad I chose to stick it out! (Saved me a TON of money, too!)
(I just want to say that feeding your baby is best. I went through a lot to get where I am today. I wouldn’t judge a mom for whatever way she chose to feed her child.)