It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written a blog! I swore I wouldn’t have long breaks from this once I started, but I guess that’s what happens when you (kind of) have a life!
Anyways, today’s post is about breast feeding. Only more specifically pumping. Hopefully it’ll be an encouraging story, if not, at least maybe an insightful one.
So I guess thewhole debates of formula versus breast milk are raging again. Or I’ve just been in a hole for a while and have just now noticed them popping up. Formula peeps are like “Hey! Fed is best, and breast feeding is weird to me, and I’m too busy to deal with it!” and the breastfeeding peeps are like “Hey! You’re totally depriving kids of a college degree and mutant powers if you do formula!” (I know that’s not really the rounded view of either argument, please don’t start a debate on my comments… I’ll ignore it.) For me? I think parents need to chill out a little bit. Both of my kids had breast milk and formula and seem fine. Although they do seem to have a weird interest in the toilet… So! I kind of feel like if you’re happy and the kid is eating and happy, then everything else will fall into place. It’s a medical fact that breast milk is amazing for babies, and there is nothing to match it. It’s also amazing for the mother as it puts everything back together in so many words. But formula is pretty packed full of good stuff too, and in the end it ensures babe is fed and happy. So yay for both sides!
So! If you’ve decided you want to breast feed, but there are latching issues for one reason or another, I’m going to give you a few things I think you should know about pumping before starting the journey.
1: Frequency of Pumping Sessions:
Just because you’re pumping doesn’t mean you get to sleep through the night and set your own pumping schedule. The idea is that your simulating a baby breast feeding. So you will have to start off pumping as frequently as your baby would be eating. (2-2.5 hours) Eventually you can space these out a little bit further, but the rule of thumb is, the more frequent and longer you pump the more supply you’ll have, the less frequent and shorter, the less supply you’ll have.
2: The Cleaning
Every. Time. Every time you pump you have to wash all the parts of the pump, including milk containers, shields, etc. I would keep wipes by my bed and wipe everything down really well to kind of extend the actual washing to every other pumping session. If you have the option, this could be good brownie point earning opportunities for your significant other.
3: The Chafing
Pumping can get very painful, just like breast feeding. If anything I’d argue more so since the shields have no natural lubricants like baby spit. I hear this complaint a lot about why people stop pumping. Good thing I had someone tell me once that you can rub lanolin on your nipples before you pump and it lubricates and helps prevent chafing. And it really does! I could always tell the difference with and without.
4: The Pump Makes ALL the Difference
Depending on what pump you have, you can have a super enjoyable pumping experience, or a super miserable one. This is something where you certainly do get what you pay for. Cheap pumps can cause infections, milk fever, and all kinds of bad things to happen due to the inability to empty you out. A good breast pump has the “flitting” time to help your breasts “let down” their milk, and also you can adjust the power to make sure you are getting everything out. Clogged ducts ain’t no fun.
5: Pumping Space Haven
If you’re going to pump, make a place in your house that you will be. (I used my bed and then moved to a rocking chair we had in the living room) Make a list of shows you’re interested in. Make a pile of books, hobbies (like knitting or something that it’s super involved), snacks, drink… You’re going to be spending A LOT of time in those spots. So make it enjoyable. I was always excited to catch up on my shows during pumping time. I even had a different activity for each pumping session sometimes. Sometimes I was reading books to my older while feeding my younger and pumping. The point is, make it a place you actually WANT to spend time.
6: Pumping Is Hard…. But NOT Impossible
I was beyond lucky to have an amazing friend who doubled as a Lactation Consultant. So I was able to text her pretty much on the daily to talk to her. I really had to take a guilt free month to month approach on this. With my son I was only able to pump for a month because of I had to have my gallbladder out. (That’s another story for another day!) But my daughter I wanted to go as long as I could. There were days I was fine, and there were days that I was overwhelmed over it. I had a newborn and a four year old and a fairly active life! So I wasn’t going to allow myself to feel guilt should I decide to stop. Having that approach allowed me to last as long as I did (5.5 months). It allowed me to look at it at face value. I was overwhelmed, but every time I looked in the fridge (and our bank account) I felt a sense of great accomplishment! I knew that I was providing the best for my baby and I was helping myself and my family in the long run! That was worth every hard day for me.
7: No Guilt!!
I think as pumpers we can feel like we’re failures as mommy’s because we’re missing out on the connection aspect of breast feeding. But I disagree. If you’re a pumping mom, you’re a hero! That’s A LOT of hard work to ensure your baby gets that awesome breast milk! Don’t ever feel like you’re less of a breast feeding mommy, or less of a mommy in general because of that!
There are perks for pumping!! You still burn 500 calories a day with pumping which is pretty worth it alone! This is why keeping snacks around is helpful. You also get the same benefits of your body being pulled back together. Not to mention your baby is getting all those nutrients and perks that breast milk has to offer!
Here’s the deal, like I said, fed is best. Making sure your baby is healthy is best. No matter what your decision, you’re a good mommy. But because I’m speaking to the pumping crowd… Pumping is hard. It’s a lot of sacrifice. But if that’s the path you’re deciding to go down, do so with pride! And certainly an open mind! Whether you pump for a month, or a year. You did good! Whether you’re ready to chuck your pump off of a bridge, or you’re having a pretty chill day with it. You’re doing great! Whether you’re approaching your due date and not really sure which path you want to go down yet, just know that pumping is always an option if breast milk is your heart’s desire! Recruit your spouse to help! A perk with pumping is that they can now help with feedings. Be open and honest about how you feel. I found the days that I had melt downs with my husband were the days that I then realized “Hm… It’s really not that bad. I think I can definitely keep going with this.” Surround yourself with people who are supportive of your decision. There are days you sometimes need to hear a “You can do this!” and some days you just need a listening ear. I’d say this is true with anything in parenting. But most importanly, I’ll say it one last time, no guilt. 🙂
Okay so this really wasn’t a story, more of a what you need to know. But hopefully it was helpful none the less!
Until next time!