So here i am, i’m just a mom, who never thought i would be Exclusively Pumping. I didn’t choose this, this is not exactly how i pictured my “breastfeeding journey” to be, this time around. This is not something i ever thought i would have to “deal” with, but here i am, i’m an EP’ing mama, in Canada, and i add “in Canada” because it seems like there is not a lot of EPer up here in the great white north 🙂 I’m hoping this post helps someone, reaches out to someone, makes people understand, and supports anyone who may need it. i feel like this is something i needed to hear when i first started EP’in. i didn’t know where to look for support or where to find information or what i was even getting myself into. This may end up being a couple part series about pumping, all different aspects i hope to cover from the whys, to the how can i, to the what do i need, to the you are enough support! so here i go, from this mama whos 8 months into my pumping journey, i’m no expert but i’m making my way…
WHY? why did you start EPing? So my story starts with my sweetest little. He was born at 8lbs 10oz. He from the beginning, didn’t seem to “get it,” nursing was always a struggle. We tried so many things. after a weigh in at 10 days, he was barely up to his birth weight, and i thought what the heck?! all he does it eat all day everyday. how could that be? maybe i was naive because i fed from the breast “nursing” with my first born for 15 months with virtually no issues, and i thought this time would be a breeze just like that. WRONG. So at 10 days, i called a Lactation Consultant (around 300$), i told her our issues, and she agreed to me with ,me the following Monday. Monday came and when she came over all i did was cry, i cried in my bed because my baby wasn’t eating. i was pretty sure he had a lip and tongue tip. and she did confirm it, she sat with me while i tried to open his mouth to nurse, tried to change positions, tried to do anything in my power to nurse, but he wouldn’t.
I will say my nipples had never been so sore in my entire life. i mean bleeding, more then cracked, and i would cry every time i latched him. After a few days of this, the pain went away and when she(the lactation consultant) seen my nipples for the first time she said oh my goodness you must be in so much pain, i said i was, but the pain had subsided quite a bit. She told me that was because i had 3rd degree nipple trauma where the nerve ending was so damaged that it basically takes away any pain but they were so butchered. She gave me medi-honey and it was my saving grace, i could notice a difference within a day or two, this was life changing for me, and i was healed up in no time.
She offered me this “sns” system for feeding which is virtually a little tube that you can attach to your breast and have milk in the container around your neck so while they nurse they don’t have to work as hard to get milk but they are still at the breast encouraging milk flow. We tried everything for around 2 hours, and she said yes, you are doing everything correctly, Haynes just cant latch because of his lip/tongue tie. She than referred me to a pediatric Dentist that specializes in releasing ties via laser. I got in with her just 3 days later, At 2 weeks old, Haynes was still not at his birth weight, he always was trying to nurse but still couldn’t get it. While at the dentist she confirmed our suspicions of a LT/TT and she told me he also had a very high pallet. She said Haynes had one of the most extreme LT/TT she had ever seen and she wouldn’t push me to release them but did tell me she highly highly recommended it. She went into telling me about how if your tongue is restricted it cant do other functions later in life. So he wouldn’t just be affected by the inability to nurse, he would be a high chance of Speech delays or other speech issues as well as other oral hygiene issues. I went in there knowing i was going to get them released as i was longing for another wonderful from-the-breast breastfeeding journey, so that is exactly what i did. The cost was around, 1000$, a small portion was covered by my benefits and the rest i paid out of pocket. she of coarse when over the risks and made me sign all these scary papers, and they took him back, by the time i paid for the procedure, and went to the bathroom, he was already finished and outside the room waiting for me to nurse him. i was so happy. they had a nursing room for moms, and brought me back and i nursed him immediately. i could tell right away that he was a MUCH better nurser, and i cried tears of joy! I had to stick around for about 15 minutes for them to continue to monitor the bleeding(which was seriously SO little, i didnt really see any at all), all was great, one of the staff showed me the stretches i had to do 6x a day for 6 weeks and off i went to go home and relearn and reteach Haynes how to nurse.
Things seemed to be going ok, they seemed like he started to really get the hang of it, although he defiantly wasn’t efficient. When out of the blue he had a preference, he would only nurse when i would sit in my bed, holding him in the football hold. We would be out and about and he would cry and cry because he was hungry, but he wouldn’t nurse. in return here i was again crying. So i had to run home, and nurse him, i tried every thing, you name it i tried it, i bought the nursing pillow with me while we were out, i tried bringing a pillow case with me, i tried everything, and nothing was helping. Haynes then went from only nursing in my bed that way to even more specific, it had to be pitch black dark for him to nurse, or else, you guessed it… STRIKE! he wouldn’t nurse. By this time i’m sure i had hardly any hair’s on my head left from stress, i didn’t and he didn’t sleep because he was so damn gassy (found out that it was allergies but that’s for another post…..) my boobs were so engorged because he wouldn’t nurse and i was just, sad, so freaking sad. i cried. ALOT. After a few weeks of him doing this, Trying to push the breast, trying the use the SNS system, trying to get him to nurse, without success, i decided with a heavy heart, i needed to pump. I spent a week or more thinking about this, and talking to family about it, i’m so lucky that i actually have a local friend who is also a EP’er and she gave me so much strength to do it. Everyone around me knows how much i love from the breast breastfeeding (nursing) and couldn’t believe that i was going to stop, but for my baby, i had to put aside what I wanted and do what was best for him. FED IS BEST. This was probably the 2nd hardest thing i ever had to do, the first being actually pumping. even with pumping, i had attempted to latch him before every single feed for months after switch to EP’ing and bottle feeding. He never nursed again.
So, now i’m pumping. and i have NO IDEA where to start or what to do. what do i need to pump? How often should i pump? how long should i pump? how much should i be feeding my baby? how do i pump and occupy the baby? how do i store breastmilk? what bottles should i use? i was CLUELESS!!! there was so many unknowns. So here’s what worked for me, this by no means will work for everyone, and is just a guide to help.
i’ll share this with you: one day i was at the store and Haynes was HANGRY! so i pulled out a freshly pumped bottle of breastmilk and i got shamed by someone walking by me in the aisle for not breastfeeding my son. SHE DIDN’T KNOW ME! she had no say, whether i was feeding Haynes breastmilk, formula, or nursed him, she had no right to judge me. She didn’t know what i had been though, she didn’t know how hard i fought for feeding from the breast, she didn’t know how many times i cried, she didn’t know. but she judged me. I’ve never felt so little in my life. NEVER. i went home and i cried. I texted my friend, and she was angry for me and apologized for the way the lady treated me. I will never forget how she made me feel that day in the grocery store. I want everyone to remember that YOU DON’T KNOW what someone has been through, you don’t know if they cant breastfeed for medical reasons, or by choice, or because they have tried every possible thing they could do and it still didn’t work out. Don’t judge. As a freshly postpartum mama, this is the life i’m living, no matter if it was by choice or not. This is my life. MY CHILD IS FED! and happy, and thriving. This is why i pump. i pump for him.
So, here’s where part one of my post comes in:
What do you need to pump? ALOT. you need alot of stuff to pump, i will be honest and say pumping is expensive. Some pumps and accessories are covered by insurance while others are not so defiantly look into your insruance and see if you can get any of the following for FREE! or even partially covered!
- a pump. i’ve had a Medela PISA, and a speCtra S2. i would never in my life buy anything other than a speCtra again!! As an EP’er you want a pump thats hospital grade esentially. So a full size pump. like i mentioned HANDS DOWN SPECTRA! i love mine because of the price (120$ usd), because its quiet and small, and because its a closed system so you never have to worry about milk flowing into your pump, which can happen with an open machine.
- extra pump parts. you need 2 or more of everything. things like Extra tubing, flanges (ensure you have been correctly fitted by a LC so you get the best output of milk! if you cant see a LC find a diagram here on how to get properly fitting flanges), backflow protectors, bottles to pump into, valves and membranes ( i personally find the duckbills give the best output, have 8-10 of these on hand as these you change very often some may last months and other times just weeks). So every part your pump has, 2-3 of each extras, and if you are a working pumping mama, a 2nd pump could also help you out, keep one at home and one at work! all of these things can run you around another (150-350$)
- nipple cream. my tried and true is the lansinoh lanolin around 10$/tube i use this every single time i pump so make sure you have extras on hand.
- storage bottles and storage bags. i had to hack my spectra bottle/flanges as i am a 19mm & 17mm flange size(i purchased the correct size from maymom and they have been great, thats who speCtra recommends if you need parts they dont sell). and speCtra only has 24 & 27mm (and maybe a 30?) so i dont actually pump into the speCtra bottles that were provided in the pump(find out HERE what bottles are compatible with your breastpump/flanges i pump into these cheapie first essential bottles which i like because they have the OZ imprinted into the plastic where as alot of the bottles have them wirtten on with some type of colouring or ink that just ends up washing off in the sink and then you never know how much your pumping. i have 4 of these, i just use 2 at a time, and then rinse, and pop in the fridge, and then use the next two if im out of if im washing my other ones. There are other ones like these medelas but i just like that if i need to i can pop over to walmart and grab them, and they are cheap! now once im finished pumping i put all my milk into these storage bottles because i like the lids, and although the writing does wash off after awhile i already know how much ive stored in them because my initial pump bottles told me. As for storage bags, at the end of the night i try to bag up all of my excess milk ive pump for that Haynes never drank, so i transfer from the storage bottles that were in the fridge to these bags. i USED to use the lansinoh, till i had nothing but leaking issues once defrosted, and as an EPer there is nothing worse than seeing all your hard work milk leaking out of the bottom of the bag!
- washing “utensils”. a good brush a nipple cleaner, a few of them, as you will notice they get kinda gunky ( is that even a word? ) but from the build up of nipple cream and fatty milk they should just be swapped out often, i use a new one every month. this is that one i use. A good drying rack will also be your friend. i use this and this
- bottles for your baby to feed from: i tried a few bottles as Haynes always seemed to leak milk, not sure why, but it would just pour out of the sides of his mouth that ones that ultimately worked best for us were the playtex nurser bottles. I didn’t go out and buy like a huge set of 10 or 12 bottles. i just got 2, because i can do a quick rinse and pop a new liner in, all i need is just the 2 and i’ve never felt like i needed more. Haynes still drinks 7 bottles a day so i just rotate then 2 and it works great. I also chose these bottles for gas reasons, you push out all the air and all they get is the milk!
- family support: this one is very important also, pumping is ALOT of work. it takes ALOT of time and dedication, a supporting significant other can make the world of difference in your pumping journey!
- *optional* if you want to be hands free you can try these freemies, which ive heard great things about but i just never went for them, the less money i spent in my eyes the better!!! you could also get an optional portable pump like the speCtra s9+ which is a tiny pump for on the go for a few times a week pumps( i wouldn’t use it more than that as its truly not a strong enough pump to use an an EP’er constantly.) Also optional, are these cool and hot pads for things like clogs that might arise
next blog post in this “series” will be all about my pumping schedule!