Getting back on track with the mom aspect of this blog, we’ve officially hit six months with our littlest guy and I am beyond proud to say he is (other than some ready to feed bottles at the beginning) exclusively breastfed! When I found out I was pregnant the second time around I honestly wanted nothing more than to successfully breastfeed this baby because lets face it, formula is stupid expensive, and it was an experience I didn’t really get to experience it with Ezra.
The Pregnancy and Newborn Part
When I was pregnant I read all the articles, learned all the facts, borrowed The Art of Breast Feeding from a super successful breastfeeding mama and close friend, and I thought I was ready. Cue up the immediate skin to skin time after you pop the baby out and little Ollie, much like his brother before him, didn’t wan’t to latch. The nurse was in and out doing nurse things and it was the middle of the day on a Saturday, so there really wasn’t anyone to help us out. Not to worry, we tried, and tried, and tried some more, eventually during our short hospital stay the lactation consultant came in and helped us out, using a nipple shield little dude latched but it was pretty awkward and they sent me home with a new pump and some ready to feed bottles and I was pretty sure our journey was going to come to an end that first night home.
Home With Baby and Expectations Changed
As soon as we got home, I knew I wanted to at least get my pump set up, having read up on the whole breastfeeding thing, I knew there was a world of people out there who fed their babies solely by pumping and bottle feeding, and given the fact my milk came in quick and like a wrecking ball, I figured it’d be worth a shot.
We did luckily figure out how to latch, painfully and miserably and I breastfed the tiny human for two weeks. Sharing a home with our in laws and teenage nephew at the time, it was a lot of being shut away in our room or walking around our shared living space constantly covered up while trying to feed. Not going to lie it was stressful, I was sweaty, little man was pissed off at constantly having to eat with a blanket on his head (as I would be as well) and all and all it just wasn’t for us. We gave it the good college try and I had been pumping here and there to try and freeze some milk for when I returned to work, but I decided to just jump right into the world of exclusively pumping and hoped for the best. I went out and bought a small can of formula when we ran out of ready to feed bottles from the hospital, convinced our breast milk journey would end, and we went about our lives.
Life As We Know It
Fast forward to now and pumping has become a part of my everyday life, and little dude has been solely on breast milk since he was about two weeks old. The journey hasn’t been easy, from washing pump parts and bottles what feels like constantly, to fitting pumps into drill weekends and finding somewhere to store my frozen milk when our freezer filled up, I am so glad I have been able to breastfeed my baby, even if it looks a little different.
There are a lot of different parts to exclusively pumping that many people don’t know or think of, so let me give you a quick run down of what it’s like to be an EP’er.
1. Your Pump is Your Life Line.
I was lucky enough to be given a portable pump (the Spectra S9 Plus) at the hospital so I can stick it in my pocket and pump away! I invested in the Freemie closed system cups that tuck right into your bra instead of having flanges and bottles hanging off me at all times and truly other than looking like I have robot boobs, it’s as if I’m not even pumping. While in the hospital they had given me a list of pumps and I was very overwhelmed with the whole thing, so I just asked the nurse to pick one for me and boy am I glad she chose a good one.
There are a million different pumps out there, manual and electric, double, single, portable and non-portable, do your research before picking a pump and make sure to think about your lifestyle when making your decision. Having a toddler at home and a job that is constantly on the go, a portable pump was a lifesaver for me! I have a manual I use for middle of the night pumps or when I need to get out a clog, but having my pump that I can literally throw into my back pocket and go on with my day has made my journey successful. Having a hands free pump is also a lifesaver because I can multi-task while pumping, which if you’re connected to the pump six to eight times a day, it is essential to have a pump you can move and groove with. Your pump is your life line, it is the middle man between you and feeding your little human, so think about it and choose wisely!
2. Stick To Your Guns.
Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not breastfeeding, and if they do, tell them to kick rocks and then squirt them in the face. I am not kidding you when I say, exclusively pumping moms get a weird amount of shaming because we bottle feed our babies. This brings me back to the title of this article, FED IS BEST, I don’t care how you feed your baby as long as they are fed! Formula, bottle, boob, tube fed, just feed your babies the best you can and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a huge amount of support from my family and medical providers, but some people unfortunately don’t have that luck. If you ever need a support system, I’m here for you!
3. Stick To Your Schedule.
With a newborn it can be hard to stick to a pumping routine, but just as babies eventually get into a feeding routine, you’ll find a pumping groove as well! I like to try to stick as closely to my schedule as possible, and sometimes its hard to have to ask for help to do that ,but I promise putting your child’s food source needs ahead of laundry is 100% alright. Would you give a nursing mom slack for stopping her day to feed her child? No, so don’t feel guilty when you have to pump.
4. Always Have A Back Up.
You will forget your pump, or your flanges, or your charger, make sure to have a back up plan such as a manual pump or extra set of pump parts for whatever life throws at you. With a baby that doesn’t nurse directly engorgement can be painful and stressful if you don’t have a way to get the milk out. Hand expression is also a super helpful tool in times of crisis, not the most efficient way, but beats getting mastitis.
5. Ounces Matter.
It is 100% okay to cry over spilled or soiled milk, don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t. Make sure you educate the other people watching your child about everything to do with breast milk storage and handling, nothing is more heartbreaking than wasted milk when you have to work so hard to produce it.
6. Quitting is Okay!
At the end of the day the amount of time and effort that goes into exclusively pumping is a lot, from balancing scheduling your pump times, to bottle dishes, to trying to actually spend time with your littles without the pump attached, it can get to be too much. Fed is always best, so it is okay to stop pumping to get your life back! Formula is a god send and I wish my little guy tolerated it so I could give up the pump life, but he is stubborn and used to the goods at this point so we pump another day. Do whats best for you and your baby and don’t let anyone guilt you into something you don’t want to do.
The Bottom Line
Exclusively pumping is a happy medium between nursing and bottle feeding, although we bottle feed our babies, we still provide breast milk, so it’s a weird combo feed that many people haven’t heard of before. There are a ton of myths about breastfeeding that are false, such as the fact that you can’t exclusively pump past a few months, and that babies don’t get the same nutrients from a bottle as they do the boob. These things are entirely false and weirdly shaming, as more moms are working moms, bottle feeding breast milk is becoming more accepted and widely practiced.
As a mom who bottle feeds breast milk, it works for us, it may not work for everyone but for this time around it is the best way to make sure my baby gets fed, and as he is weighing in at a whopping 18lbs, I think he’s eating plenty.