Friday, August 23, 2013

Pumping update almost 10 months in...

After the past few months of pumping, I have gotten very discouraged. My supply has had major issues taking leaping on a cliff declines in the amount available to pump in the later part of my cycle and taking a week to recover which meant lots of pumping with little yield. After trying a few "helpers" to no avail, I decided to finish out the cycle month to see what happened. I could have tried more herbal help or other milk supply boosters, but you have to balance out how much money and time you are investing into something that may not work. Plus, at that time we were 9 months in, I had done an amazing job so far and Johnny was tolerating formula well.

So we haven't given up on pumping entirely. But after another round of supply issues and me crying as I pumped for my 5th 1 hour session that day with barely a yield, I made the decision to cut down again. I am now only pumping once in the morning and once in the evening and I will be honest, it has been hard to adjust to. I feel anxious if I am out and about in the afternoon when a large amount of pumping would take place. If I am at home I find myself wandering over to my pump and starting to sit down figuring that I am due for another session. It has become such a habit for me that it is hard to break. My body has adjusted fine, it's just my mentality. I am happy with my decision though. I am happy for the extra time in my schedule and not being locked down to the house even more. I am getting four ounces at each session which is perfectly fine with me at this point. Johnny is getting 3 ounces or so of formula at each feeding with the four ounces being fresh pumped or frozen pumped milk. I find it interesting how the "profile" of my milk has changed, the pump parts don't need a "deep cleaning" as often because the milk fat content is definitely less over the past two months.

I have been so blessed by my friends. So far we have not needed to purchase any formula due to donations of sample cans given to us by friends. We have received a lot and have coupons as well for any purchases that need to be made. Additionally, this week brought us a donation of pumped, frozen milk from a friend who is having to clean her diet for her newborn son. If you had asked me several years ago if I would have ever given someone else's milk to my kid I would have scrunched up my nose, shook my head, and told you that you were crazy. Once I began donating though, I realized how grateful I was to be able to give my milk away and now, I get to receive a little bit of that back. Which means so much to me since it wasn't my decision not to "feed him directly from the tap" and it means extra nutrients and vitamins for him (especially since it is newbie milk).

My hope (as it has always been) is that he will receive some breast milk until a year. I will do my part to make that happen and I am so proud of our work up until this point. My advice to anyone wanting to exclusively pump is to go in knowing that it is really hard, to make sure you get even more rest than a breastfeeding mother, and to cut yourself some slack from time to time. If I could do it all over again, I would have kept an early pump to build up my stock (and probably wouldn't have donated the big batch that I did before I had issues). I also would have gotten a little bit of formula (enfamil has these fantastic to-go packets that are nice for emergencies) to have on hand in the diaper bag for times when we were out and about but had to cut things short to get back home to pump. There were a lot of times that we were having fun with the kids but I was tied to getting back home for pumping. On that note, invest in a lighter adapter for your pump so you can take it with you on longer trips.

I am here for my limited advice to give anyone who wants to undertake exclusive pumping or who needs breastfeeding advice. It takes help sometimes because it can be hard to get the hang of, but I promise, if it is important to you, it is so worth it.

He is so worth it!

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