Exclusive Pumping – A Different Take on Breastfeeding

I Knew I Wanted to Pump the Second Time Around

Breastfeeding felt so awkward and clumsy to me with my first – the frustrating nipple shield, trying to get baby to latch, considering a tongue or a lip tie, and lack of knowledge. I felt defeated. I thought long and hard about why I was trying all of these things, just to feed formula at the end of the day. After crying as much as the baby, I let my husband know I decided to give up breastfeeding. He was extremely supportive and liked that he was able to make a bottle and help feed our son. This was the right decision for us.

I Had a Plan Going Into My Induction

I took my brand new Spectra pump in with me, eager to start pumping right after having my brand new baby girl. It’s not that pumping was discouraged, it was just encouraged to put baby to boob and to keep trying. Once again, this just didn’t feel right to me. I wanted to be really good at it and I just wasn’t.

We got home from the hospital and my pumping journey began. I started by supplementing with a good friends’ extra milk until I could produce enough of my own. Plans took a turn when we got admitted to the pediatric inpatient unit for jaundice. I remember the physician recommending that I pump every two hours instead of trying to get baby to latch so we could mix my milk with donor milk until I made enough of my own. During that hospital stay, I would watch baby under the lights and pump every two hours on the dot – that’s literally it. By the time we were discharged, I was making enough of my own. I couldn’t believe I was doing it!

Maternity Leave Consisted of Pumping and Washing Pump Parts

My second maternity leave flew by in the blink of an eye. I’m not sure if it’s because I was busy with a newborn and a toddler, or because I spent the majority of it attached to a pump. I had a love-hate relationship with that blue and white pump in the first few months.

I would get such a high from watching the ounces stack up. On the other hand, I came down with dreaded mastitis three different times as I tried to keep up with my oversupply. Getting up for that middle of the night pump once baby started sleeping through the night was pretty miserable, but I got used to it quickly and I started making enough to have a frozen stash. This became even more satisfying as I watched frozen bags fill a separate “milk only” freezer we keep in our basement.

The Key To My Success So Far

I’m going into my sixth month of the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I had more knowledge this time around; many of my co-workers are pumping moms so I felt supported and prepared. Check out the post Pumping at Work: Everything You Need to Know, also featured on the Cedar Rapids Moms website for some really great tips and tricks. Lactation consultants weren’t super helpful to me when it came to pumping. I found the Exclusive Pumping website and group on Facebook extremely helpful. I also downloaded an app called “Pump Log”. This app alerts me each time I need to pump and tracks my ounces for the day. It even keeps a log of ounces frozen in my stash.

The key to a good supply is frequent emptying. You want to mimic a baby’s feeding schedule, especially in the first 12 weeks. I got really good at pumping on the go and planning my day around my pump schedule. I live in pumping bras because hands free is the way to be. Last but not least, I have a good routine going – I wash bottles and pump parts daily, freeze milk every 4 days, and I get everything ready for pumping at work the night before.

Not everyone has a large oversupply and honestly, mine has been more of a burden. I’ve started donating to other babies and that has made this entire process worth it. The main goal is always to feed baby and never to feed your freezer. If you take anything from this, speak up and be your own advocate. If you want to pump right away, do it, and if you want to feed formula, that’s absolutely fine too. One of my babies was formula fed and one is exclusively breastfed, they’re both happy and thriving.

Regardless of how you choose to feed your baby, whether it be formula, straight from the boob, or from a freshly pumped bottle – fed is always best. We all end up eating fast food French fries off the minivan floor anyway. I can confirm this is 100% true, I have a toddler.

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