My Breastfeeding journey, from nursing to exclusively pumping

For all you moms out there whose super power is the simple fact that you make milk…  Happy National Breastfeeding month to us!  I’ve got to say I am pretty darn proud of myself for not only sticking with it this long, but spending hours researching products and vitamins to help boost my supply after it dropped in half from mastitis.  From the day Abigail was born, she has honestly been such an easy baby.  She took to nursing right away, was sleeping great and never really fussy unless something was actually wrong (she still is this way!).  While my journey through Motherhood has been an amazing and enjoyable experience, my breastfeeding journey has given me some challenges.

 

Engorgement

Within a month of having Abigail, I went back to work (NEVER AGAIN that fast) and I knew I needed to begin pumping early on so she would have milk throughout the day while Great-grandma kept her.  Well, soon after pumping my boobs became engorged. While the supply of milk was nice, it hurt to lay on my belly because they were always so full, they leaked all the time, I pumped every 3-4 hours and Abigail was the only one who could get any enjoyment out of them!  So yay for super full boobs!

 

Mastitis

            Prior to mastitis, I literally felt like I was dying, I almost think I would have rather had the flu!  Who knew your kid could give you an infection from nursing!  It has been several months now since this but my supply is still feeling the effect.  Prior to mastitis I pumped 11 ounces 3 times a day sometimes 4 times a day.  I know I am not the only momma who has felt this effect and all I have to say is DON’T GIVE UP!!!  I continued to nurse her through the infection and also used cabbage leaves to help draw it out and was better in no time J

 

Supplements

            So far I have ordered capsules geared towards increasing milk supply, ate lactation bar/cookies and even tried milk supply teas and drinks in a desperate attempt to keep my baby girl on breast milk!  My current combination of vitamins is in the image below…  Blessed thistle (2 caps 3x a day), milk thistle (2 caps a day), fenugreek (2 caps once a day) and fennel seed (1 cap 3x a day).   The Milk flow drink by UpSpring(purchased at Target) also pictured below seemed to work pretty well also, I just thought vitamins were the cheaper route.  Within starting this combination on day ONE I noticed an EXTRA ounce produced from each boob and it has remained this way since!!!

 

Exclusively pumping

I am not going to lie on top of having a full time job, finishing school, and being a wife…  Exclusively pumping is HARD!  It is a full time job in itself.  My routine is pretty…  well routine.  I pump around 9:00 AM every morning at work, eat oatmeal (oats help boost supply) and take all the supplements I listed above.  Then around 3:30 PM I pump again before I got home and take my second dose of vitamins for those that are 3x a day.  Then I don’t pump again until around 10:30- 11:00 PM when I am ready to go to bed and take my last dose of supplements.

Each pump session takes about 30 minutes for me to completely empty each breast, and it takes some squeezing and massaging of them to get it all out….  All in all I now pump about 18 ounces a day.

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Pumping at work

I am lucky enough to work at an independently owned Pharmacy with an awesome boss who supports my pumping.  I’m a compounding technician so I am in a lab all day that thankfully has a door, so when the time comes for me to pump I just let everyone know and go lock myself in my lab.  For double security I created a sign for my door…  “warning boobs out”, works like a charm. While I completely understand not every working mom is this lucky, I promise there are still ways you can make it work!

It takes a lot of discipline to be able to continue this on a daily basis, but it is SO worth it!  Below I listed some tips and tricks I have learned over the past 7 months that have made my journey a little bit easier.

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Tips:

  1. Invest in the bras that Medela makes that allows you to pump hands free! LIFE SAVER!
  2. The best thing you can do for yourself is making sure have a double electric pump. A lot of insurance companies offer these for free now, I got my Medela from insurance for free.
  3. If you need to, supplement with formula! If you work full time and won’t have enough milk to get your little one through daycare or someone watching them, supplement with one bottle of formula a day.  We are currently trying this out with Earth’s Best formula  to help me build back up a small stash in case of emergency!
  4. Stock your house with plenty of equipment for the pump… The tubing, breast shields, valves, membranes and the collection cups (I found the 5 ounce storage bottles work best because the 1 ounce and 3 ounce tubes are useless… if you pump over that amount, you then have to pour it into a bag and then continue).
  5. Have a pack of milk storage bags on hand in case you have extra you would like to freeze or if you are out for the day and have to pump, you can store what you pump in bags and clean the containers to re-use.
  6. One of the most important items to have during any long trip or to even use to allow you to pump on the way to work is a power inverter. This allows you to plug it into the cigarette charger and plug your pump in, making it simple to

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YOU GO MOM!

So for any of you moms out there who think your breastfeeding journey may be coming to an end because your supply is dropping, don’t give up just yet!  You can do this!  However, if you feel formula is best suited for your child, yourself and your lifestyle than you go right ahead and do what is best for YOUR FAMILY!  Too often we are judged for every little decision we make.  I can honestly say I have gone against the grain on several things with Abigail, but I know I am making my decisions on what is best for our baby girl and my family.