Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Adventures in Pumping

We tried breastfeeding from the very start with Dorothy. Less than an hour after birth she was breastfeeding for the first time, although even during those first sessions she was latching wrong. The nurses all said everything looked great, her latch looked good, blah, blah, blah. But the more we did it, the worse it got. By the time we got home, not only were my nipples bruised and bleeding, but we would have half an hour long scream-fests in the middle of the night. Dorothy would obviously be hungry, but she wouldn't latch no matter what I did. All she did was get more mad as the minutes went by. Of course it didn't help that my milk didn't come in until Saturday afternoon when she was born Tuesday morning. After seeing the lactation specialist a couple of times, trying the nipple shield (my production dropped with that one) and being exhausted trying to make a baby breastfeed when she didn't want to, I tried pumping.

It was in the middle of the night when she was about two weeks old when I didn't know what else to do. I only had a hand pump, but I pumped her the milk and she took the bottle! It was like she had been waiting for me to do it. Not a whine or a whimper. No trying to figure out what this thing was for. I had tried giving formula to her once or twice, but she didn't like the taste. Pumping it was.

For the next few days I pumped with the hand pump. Even with that, the feeding time was less than it was with trying to get her to latch. So we decided to get the Medela Pump In Style Advanced electric breast pump. I can pump both sides at the same time in 10 minutes now (sometimes 8 or 9). The only thing that is decidedly inconvenient is having to be away from home and carry the bag around. Not to mention trying to find a place to go where I CAN do two sides at a time. If we are anywhere but home, I have to pump one side and then the other, hiding myself with a blanket. This process takes more like 20-25 minutes. Plus the time to give her the bottle. Even so, this takes about the same amount of time as it still takes for her to nurse. Yes, I do still nurse occasionally, but she still takes 20 minutes on each side and then she's hungry an hour later instead of 2 or 3 hours with the bottle. Plus the fact that she has the same pattern of getting progressively worse (and more agitated) with each subsequent breastfeeding session; something neither she or I have the patience for.

Our routine at home goes something like this:

In the morning I either breastfeed her (if I have gone all night and am engorged) and then pump. Or I just pump after I give her a bottle from the fridge. I have a "station" set up on the end of the couch so I can keep an eye on Dorothy in the swing and be comfy at the same time.

When I'm done I rinse out her dirty bottle and put the pumped milk in fresh bottles for storage in the fridge. I always have the sink full of soapy water so the dirty stuff can soak until it's ready to be scrubbed and rinsed.

The drying rack is almost always full of pumping parts and baby bottles (we use the Avent bottles, but may try the Playtex bottles soon on recommendation from a friend) for all who enter to see.

I keep about five 5 oz bottles in the fridge at all times. Anything extra at the end of a pumping session gets stored in the freezer in 4-5 oz. portions for later use (say, a sitter, perhaps).

Dorothy eats every 2-3 hours (I have done demand feeding so far, even with the bottle) and I pump every 3-4 hours. At night I just go however long she goes between. Last night she went 9 hours. My boobs were HUGE (and painful)!

There are positives and negatives for both sides, and I find myself wavering between whether to keep pumping exclusively, breastfeed exclusively (requiring more patience than I have with a fussy baby), do a combo of both (my current choice), or just scrap it all and go to formula (by far the fastest in our situation, yet more of a financial burden). I know the benefits of breast milk. That's the reason I have pumped this long. But I find that I am tied to the pump at all times. No longer can I go out and have a relaxing time somewhere, even if she's with a sitter (always Grandma at this point). I am always thinking about how I need to get home and pump because the battery pack dies so fast (and it takes 10 AA batteries to boot).

Yes, we've seen a lactation specialist. Twice. AND talked to her on the phone.

No, she's not tongue tied.

Yes, I'm still trying to get her to breastfeed.

No, I don't have inverted nipples.

Yes, her latch is good when she DOES latch without pulling off every 5 seconds.

No, she's not satisfied for a good length of time after a breastfeeding session.

Yes, I've tried a nipple shield.

What would you do?


Kim said...

I'm not a mom, but I do have a two-month-old nephew.

I would say, personally, for as long as you can stand it, stick with pumping and bottlefeeding. At least she is getting your milk. If that gets too wearing, switch then - every day is one more day she's getting breastmilk, so that's good! And if you have to switch, just be confident in your choice that it is what is best for your family.

Anonymous said...

Well Becci, you know what I did...I was in the same boat as you and my daugther just couldn't get the hang of breastfeeding fulltime. I found pumping to be a little of a pain, but I also found the cost of formula was overwhelming and the benefits of pumping were just worth it to me. My goal was to pump until she was on solid foods and I met that goal. Of course my milk dried on it's own, I would have kept pumping if it didn't. I pumped 5-6 times a day and am having flashbacks of my pumping life while reading this post!! I did the same exact thing you did.
I would highly recommend purchasing the battery charger for the pump to use in the car to save the batteries.

I would also HIGHLY recommend freezing excess milk for the day your milk dries (if it does)...this is something I wish I had done.

Whatever your decision, remember, she will be just fine whether it be breastmilk from you, breastmilk pumped or formula full time. You need to come up with a plan that works for both you and Dorothy and no one else (obviously your husband counts!!).

As always, I'm here if you need any advice or encouragement, I've been there!!

Catherine said...

I can't tell you what I would do...because only you can make that decision for yourself. But I can tell you what I did. Sam was very much like you describe Dorothy. So we did a combo of breastmilk from the boob and bottle...and formula. I wish I had worked harder for exclusive breastfeeding now...but I'm four and a half years away from the exhaustion and hormones, so it's a relatively easy thing to say in hindsight. Like everything else, I say do what works for you and your little one. The only judgment that matters is yours.

Anonymous said...

Becci, I'd do what's best for you. You have definitely given breastfeeding and pumping a fair shot. I don't enjoy pumping so I only do it once while I'm at work to avoid embarassing leakage. At home I breastfeed exclusively, but while I'm at work, my baby does get supplemented with formula, and he does just fine.

Anonymous said...

I was in a similar boat as you (only throw in a NICU stay, so I couldn't breastfeed at all at first), but luckily for us, the nipple shield finally worked. Don't give up yet. It took my son seven months to figure out how to really breastfeed, and now it's finally a joy.

Lori said...

You have to do what's right for you guys Becci, whether that's nursing, pumping, both, or formula. Either way, you are providing nourishment for your child to help her grow healthy and strong. Don't feel guilty, or ALLOW ANYONE to make you feel guilty, whatever your choice may be. I think you've done great so far.

I had many, MANY problems with Colin at the start. I would have to say it took a good 6 weeks to make breastfeeding work. I had to use a nipple sheild for the majority of that time, but was able to wean off of it. Both of you are learning how to do it...it's not just you. Just realize, if you try the nursing, that it WILL get easier with time. As she gets bigger, and both of you become more sure of yourselves, you settle in to a routine that works. If she's going longer between bottle feedings, that shows you that it's not the milk, it's the amount she's taking in, so she must not be getting the same during nursing sessions. Question: (sorry if tmi), is letdown kicking in when she nurses? If not, that may be the problem with the nursing...she's not working hard enough. If that's the case, I'm not sure what to tell you. Some women actually stimulate their nipples so that letdown will come faster once nursing starts. That may help.

Sorry for the novel! Please just know that whatever decision you make, you are an AWESOME Mommy, and you don't have to explain it to anyone. K? Feel FREE to email me if you have any questions you think I might be able to answer! another_sweet_day@yahoo.com


karen said...

i would stop using bottles and pacifiers if you really want to breastfeed. breastfeeding is hard hard work, and bottles (and pacifiers) can sabatoge your nursing relationship. bottles are a lot easier for her to get milk out of, and she cant regulate how much milk she is geting the way she can at the breast. thats probably why she goes longer between feedings when she has a bottle and not the breast.

a lot of the time people dont realize how hard it can be to breastfeed. it can be extremely painful (i had 3 months of cracked and bleeding nipples before things finally worked themselves out so i know how much it can HURT) some babies are lazier than others and once they get a taste of how easy it is to feed from a bottle dont want to work hard on moms breast. breastfed babies tend to eat a lot, often going only one to two hours between a feeding and before they really become good at eating a nursing session can take up to 45 minutes. it really depends on how badly you want to make breastfeeding work and what you are willing to do to get there. it will take lots of work and patience.

what would i do? we had problems with zoes latching, with how long it took for her to finish a feed, when i felt like all i ever did was nurse because she was eating every hour and taking 45 minutes to nurse and i was almost convinced i wasnt making enough milk, when she would fuss at the breast, when it hurt so badly to latch her on that i would grit my teeth and my eyes would get all teary, what i did was just suffer through it thinking this too shall pass... my favorite mantra. i was going to breastfeed and that was all there was to it. it was important enough to me that i struggled to make it happen and eventually when she was about 3 and a half months old she started nursing less and her mouth got big enough that it wasnt hurting me to nurse her. it sucked (pun intended) but we got through it, and i am very proud that in spite of the amount of crap i had to wade through to make our nursing relationship work shes still going strong, and i will continue nursing her until she is ready to stop.

but that was my choice, and dorothy is not my kid. you do what you think is right. please dont take anything i have said as any sort of criticism, its not meant as such. its just what we did at our house, and i would never mean to imply that your choices are anything other than perfect for you and your little one!

Anonymous said...

I tried breastfeeding with my son, we tried everything, the nipple sheild, lactation specialist, and when none of that worked, I tried pumping and for some reason that wouldnt work either, I never became engorged. I often wonder if I got a milk supply. Finally we had to break down a feed him formula because he lost over a pound. There is nothing wrong with bottle feeding. I know some people say you dont bond, or your baby with be healthier. But YOU know what's right for you and Dorthy, and thats all that matters.

Amy said...

Becci I remember those dark early days. I can't tell you what to do, but since you asked what I would do, I would keep pumping.

I know it's a pain, but if you can pump enough extra now, you can start to skip a session here or there later. She'll start dropping feedings in a few months and you'll be spending less and less time pumping.

But whatever you decide, it will be the right decision. A happy mom equals a happy baby!

BethGo said...

Oh sister. Have I been there!! With BOTH of my boys. Poor latch, plug ducts, mastitis, thrush, tongutied. You name it-we've had it. I hate breastfeeding!
With that said a good consultant really can make the difference.
I lucked out with my second child (he was a NICU baby-that's not the lucky part) and was seen by Dr. Jane Morton who is the head of Breast Feeding Science or something like that at Stanford. She showed me some techniques that made it all come together for me and my guy. Here is a link to her bio with a number to call to order a video she put together.
I don't know how much help that is but I thought I would share what I can.
Good for you on the pumping! You should really give yourself credit for all you have done.
This is not easy AT ALL.
Good luck in whatever you decide.

soralis said...

Just catching up... wow she is so adorable, they grow so fast!

Good luck with the b/fing and pumping.

Take care

Anonymous said...

I think you need to do what is best for you and your baby.

The only thing I can say is what worked best for me.

I went back to work when my son was two weeks old. I nursed my son when I was able and pumped while away. I was very lucky that he was a GREAT nursing baby. He also had some formula.

I know the feeling of being tied down to a pump or baby. My boy would nurse 6 or 7 times a night. I work during the day so that was our time together. When I did finally have to give it up because I became exausted, he was 10 months old. He had been such a healthy baby and right away after stopping nursing he started with ear infections and has continued to be a sickly child.

I regret that I couldn't nurse longer but also realize I did what I thought was best that I could at the time.

I wish you luck and try to hang in there for your beautiful baby girl. I feel that nursing really is best for health reasons.

The Mom said...

Wow, I go and get busy with my new baby and yours turns 2 months old and is holding her head up?! Time really flies. I had to comment on this post. I obviously haven't been keeping up with your struggles but all I want to say is don't feel guilty if you end up going to formula, which I don't think you do, but my point is that I'm not convinced of all the benefits of breastfeeding. Honestly, I do it for the laziness factor. So I don't have to prepare/wash bottles, get up out of bed in the middle of the night to warm a bottle, etc. But I'll tell you this... my firstborn was a preemie and had to be bottlefed as per the NICU's orders (so they could monitor her intake). By the time she came home at 6 weeks she wouldn't take the breast, so after I gave up pumping at 9 weeks (I barely had any milk at that point) she went to formula. My 2nd was fullterm and I breastfed her for 6 months. Guess which one was the healthier infant who never had a single cold or even diaper rash? Hint: not the breastfed one. I say do what works for your family. It's nobody else's business what you decide.

Jeana said...

I think you should try to give Dorothy breast milk for as long as possible but do what works best for you!!!
With my first son, I decided that I was going to breastfeed exclusively for the first year. I worked full time and ended up only have one breast that created milk. I pumped during work, in the evening, in the middle of the night, woke up early in the morning. I felt attached to the pump and I started to get super stressed. Did I have enuff milk for daycare the next day, etc, etc. He would not take formula because he did not like the taste. Around 9 months, I started to mix formula with breast milk to get him used to the taste of formula. Eventually, I could switch out and life was much, much much easier.
I had my second son in March and decided to be a little more flexible this time. While on maternity leave (8 weeks), I breastfed exclusively with an occassional bottle of formula. When I went back to work, I breastfed in the morning and evening but fixed him formula bottles for daycare. I felt a little guilty but I could not imagine trying to pump enuff for him with a 2 year old to take care of too. I am home alone most evenings because their daddy travels. It has been much less stressful this time. I have more options and am not tied to the pump. My milk supply has decreased over time, so I don't have to worry as much about getting engorged.
I have always been pro-breastmilk, but you have to keep your sanity too. :)
By the way, my second son (so far) has been just as healthy as the first. He's actually had less colds and fevers than the first.

purple_kangaroo said...

Well, I'm not the one to ask for breastfeeding advice, as you probably know.

But since you ask, what I might consider doing in your situation is a combination of all three--breastfeed when you can, pump when at home, and maybe use formula for outings? Would that even work? See how little I know about this sort of thing?

Did you see my post about breastfeeding difficulties and my thoughts in hindsight?

Anonymous said...

Pumping full time is to be highly commended!! If you do decided to stop, please look into goat's milk instead of formula. Regardless, your child will grow up healthy and happy.
Worrying about when you need to pump is no different than worrying about when you need to breastfeed.