Breastfeeding Blog Hop: Pumping
Today I’m taking part in another Breastfeeding Blog Hop hosted by LifeWithLevi. The topic for this week is “Pumping”, something I did quite a bit of in the early months of breastfeeding. The post I’ve submitted is My Breastfeeding Story Part 5: The Low Points. Be warned – it’s a long one, all about the difficulties Little Man and I encountered in those early weeks and months.
If you haven’t got time to read the whole thing, here’s the relevant extract about pumping!
There’s the alarm – now Pump! Pump! Pump!
It became apparent to me that I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed Little Man “normally’ like I wanted to. Since I wasn’t ready to switch to formula, I started expressing. I had a Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Manual Breast Pump. With that pump I was able to express two to three ounces from each side in about twenty minutes. Of course, I couldn’t wait until Little Man was showing signs of hunger to do this, because he certainly wasn’t going to wait twenty minutes to be fed. So instead, I had to plan my day and my pumping times to suit his feed times. I had a reasonably good idea about when he would need to be fed. I had been tracking all his feeds, using an app called Baby Brain, since the day he was born, so I could see that at fed at similar times each day. I started setting alarms to remind myself to pump 30 minutes before his next feed was due. For 48 hours, I stayed just ahead of his schedule like this. It was exhausting, but it was working.
I sent Charlie out to buy a second manual pump so that I wouldn’t have to go downstairs and wash and sterilise the one I already had in the middle of the night. I could have a second one lined up and ready to go for the next pumping session. We developed a new night time routine. I would pump a bottle and feed Little Man at around 11pm. While I was feeding the baby, Charlie would wash and sterilise the two pumps, and bring them back up to our room.
At 2.30am, my alarm would go off, and I’d get up and pump another bottle. Then I’d lie down and try to get some sleep before Little Man woke. Sometimes he’d wake while I was still pumping and sometimes he’d wake an hour or two later. Depending on when he woke, I’d set my next alarm for around two hours after his feed. And I’d do it all again.
After two days of pleasant feeds, with no screaming baby, I was feeling so much better. Then Little Man slept through one of his feeds, and suddenly I was a feed ahead of him. This made all the difference. I no longer had to set an alarm. Instead, I could sleep for as long as Little Man slept, and just feed him when he woke, and then express when he went back to sleep.
I started offering Little Man a breastfeed from the right side once he had finished the bottle of expressed milk. It was great. Once his hunger had been sated, he didn’t fuss as much latching on, and as the days passed, I got better and better at latching him on. My left side was still too sore, and it would be a couple of weeks before I was really able to make a reasonable attempt at feeding him from that side again.
When I look back now, I feel like I was living in a bubble during those few weeks. No matter what happened, I was determined to find a solution to allow me to continue feeding Little Man breastmilk rather than formula. When the manual pumping became too time-consuming, I went out and bought a Tommee Tippee electric pump. During the day, I used the electric pump, and at night I used the manual pumps. Charlie and I spent a lot of time during those few weeks washing and sterilising bottles and pumps!
It wasn’t all plain sailing from here. The constant expressing was exhausting. And it still bothered me that I couldn’t just breastfeed normally. I was determined to put an end to the constant expressing, so I started researching online to try to figure out where I was going wrong. As far as I could tell, the reason I was feeling pain was because Little Man was latching shallowly, and this was also contributing to excessive windiness in him. When he was six weeks old, I went to the breastfeeding support group, confident that now I had a fair idea of where we were going wrong, the Public Health Nurse would be able to tell me how to fix it.
Unfortunately, the nurse on that day was pretty dismissive of me. She told me that if my baby hadn’t learned to latch properly by six weeks old, he never would. I was gutted. For two days, after that, I planned how to wean Little Man onto bottles. On the third day, I replaced one breastfeed in the day with a formula feed.
And on the fourth day, I started my internet search for a solution again. But you’ll have to wait until the next part of this story to find out just what that search turned up!
Have you got your own story about pumping that you’d like to add? What are you waiting for?