A Journey in Breastfeeding: My love/hate with the Breast Pump

When I thought about Breastfeeding Madeline I knew there would come a time when I had to return to work and that meant I would need to pump.  I never imagined I would need to use my breast pump much in the months leading up to that though. Yet again I’ve realized everything you think you will know about being a parent, you don’t. It seems like every day I find something I was sure about ends up turning out differently for me. Pumping was no exception.

There’s something about the act of pumping that just makes me feel like a dairy cow. While I’m so grateful that when Madeline is fussy at 3:30am, Mike can feed her, it doesn’t mean my pump and I are best friends.  I did a lot of research on pumps prior to ordering mine and decided a Medela Pump In Style would be the best for me. From what I’ve read they are the most durable and convenient. I knew I would want a double pump for convenience but at this point haven’t used both sides at the same time.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to feeling “full” but it is not what I was thinking! So after two days of breastfeeding, I broke out the pump. Pumping is first and foremost painful. It’s a sensation that is much stronger than breastfeeding and even on a low power setting it is uncomfortable. Lanolin is your best friend, trust me. Pumping is also time consuming, watching the milk drop into a bottle drip by drip is excruciating! But the reward at the end of an ounce or two of milk is like liquid gold!  On top of that there are so many parts that need to be washed and sanitized and put away after each pumping session.  I am so glad that it turned out we only needed to pump once or twice for the first few days until we got our groove settled.

Part of the problem I realized later on was that the shields/flanges that come with the breast pump were too small for my larger breasts/nipples! Once my sister pointed this out I ordered new ones and pumping became much easier and less painful. Also I got twice as much milk! It really does make a difference so if you’re not sure if they’re the right size, google what a proper pump latch should look like or see a lactation consultant – it’s very helpful!

I know that soon enough I will need to start pumping on a regular basis to prepare for when I return to work. I am not looking forward to it but we tackle it one step at a time!

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A Journey in Breastfeeding: Getting Milk 

Breast feeding is such a controversial topic in our world today and it seems very odd to me. Why should I care if you choose to breastfeed or formula feed your child? We here at Forever Young Moms are a judgement free zone- babies should be fed and well cared for the best you can for your lifestyle and expectations of how motherhood should be. It is one of a million parenting decisions that you will have to make and it is a personal choice.

When we found out we were expecting Madeline, I knew I wanted to breastfeed her. I felt that breast milk was the way to go because of the nutritional benefits. It’s almost magical how my body can feed and sustain a baby. In addition to the nutritional benefits, there are some other bonuses:

1) When we leave the house, I can forget a bottle, but I can’t forget the boobies
2) It’s free
3) Bye, bye baby weight! You mean I can skip the gym & feed my baby to lose weight?

Before her arrival, I planned that Madeline wouldn’t need to drink formula. But as I am quickly learning, in motherhood things don’t always go as planned. First time mom alert: I didn’t realize that when you give birth you don’t automatically produce milk- it takes a few days – surprise to me! So when Madeline had jaundice and needed to be supplemented with formula I was beside myself. It’s my job as a mom to feed her so I almost resented the fact that my body didn’t have milk yet. Despite my disappointment, it didn’t take me long to realize that it didn’t matter what she was being fed, as long as it would keep her nourished and healthy, so formula it was.

The “natural” process of milk coming in wasn’t as natural as I thought it would be. It was physically uncomfortable, and not just in the region I was expecting to experience discomfort. My doctor had told me to expect to feel achy, but I had no idea I would feel the way I did. It was like a case of really bad allergies – a cough, runny nose, and sinus pressure for two days. It was actually, in my opinion, worse than recovering from childbirth.

Now that my milk is in, Madeline and I working together to find our groove, which has sometimes been a frustrating, challenging and long process.  When she’s hungry it’s hard to see her get frustrated and struggle. I know babies cry, but it feels like this is within my control. When she hasn’t eaten in a while and cries, I leak lakes of milk. It’s certainly not easy and is sometimes unpleasant, but my desire to feed her naturally has kept me going so far.

I can now understand why women who want to and do give up on breastfeeding. In fact, I’ve wanted to give up quite a few times in the 5 short days we’ve been at this and I know we still have a long road ahead of us. When that happens, it is extremely helpful to have a support system in place. For me, it is my husband. He is there to help however he can, even to just listen or rub my back when I am overcome with emotion.

This is just the beginning of my long motherhood journey.  My support from my husband and my perseverance has given me the determination to continue breastfeeding. What helped you and your baby to become breastfeeding pros?

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