Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pump, Pump, Pump-It-Up

First things first, in case you don’t know, breast pumps are paid for by most insurances now.  What a blessing!!  Be sure to call your insurance provider to find out how to get yours completely paid for before you go buy one and just expect to send them the receipt for reimbursement.  No, that’s not advice from my personal experience.  I was advised to call insurance first as well, thankfully!!

Secondly, I want to preface this post by saying everyone has a different reason, either by choice or by force, on how they feed their baby.  You are a great mom and taking care of your baby the best way you know how, so keep it up!  These are just personal experiences that I, and those around me, have had that I wanted to share.  With that being said, I’m going to start off with my story, which is more of a continual journey because I learn new things every day.

My sweet girl was born on Saturday, May 11th at 6:28pm.  All the details of the order from that day/weekend are a little fuzzy and if you would like to read about our birth story you can here.  I do remember having to try to get her to latch throughout the night and not really getting a ton of support from the nurses on how to do it.  They all had differing opinions on how to hold her and such.  My sister and some of my friends also had advice from their experiences.  I remember feeling a little uncomfortable and I know now thinking back that I totally lied on her ‘update sheet’ as to how long she was eating.  I was WAY over shooting it.  Gary did call me out, but I just ignored him.  You moms know what I’m talking about when I say you have this inner battle that you just really want it to work for you and it to just happen.  I remember one of the nurses was trying to help me and Wren just wasn’t doing what I needed her to.  I said in a joking manner, “Man, she is being awnry.”  The nurse replied kind of snappy, “No, she isn’t.  She just doesn’t know what she is doing.”  I remember feeling bad for saying that and thinking that I was a bad mom.  I had no idea what I was doing either.  I just knew I wanted her to latch on and it be done.  Thankfully, I was told to bring my pump to the hospital with me and honestly I waited too long to use it.  Finally, the professional lactation consultant came to help on the day we were leaving.  She was AWESOME!!  Her name was Stephanie and for the first time I actually felt like I was doing something right.  I think the reason I hadn’t pumped yet was because 1. Nobody told me to and 2. I was scared I wouldn’t have enough to feed Wren if I didn’t time it just right.  Stephanie tried to get Wren to latch, but she took one good look at me and said I needed to pump because I was engorged.  She showed me how to use the pump and she showed Gary how to feed Wren with a syringe as I was pumping.  He loves that he had this sweet moment with her.  He still talks about it often!  I have no idea how long or how much I pumped that day because as I was pumping Gary was gathering it from within the cone part
 and feeding it to Wren.  I remember thinking that we might have to feed her like this for a while if she didn't latch on.

People always say if you can get past the first two weeks you are golden.  I think my nursing anxiety lasted a little longer only because Wren was so tiny the doctor told us not to take her anywhere with a crowd until 4-6 weeks.  Don’t worry I asked what a crowd is because we had some family gatherings coming up that I wanted to take her to, but he said no more than 5-6 HEALTHY people.  Gary’s immediate family has more than that, so we were stuck.  Also, the 4-6 weeks confused me because 2 weeks can make a big difference in a newborn’s life.  I just went with my gut and we RAN out of the house on her 4 week birthday :).

I HATED night time.  I cried and cried most nights because I was just thinking about when she was going to wake up again.  Gary didn’t understand, but he was supportive nonetheless.  She slept in the room with us for a little over 2 months.  I had to time her feedings for the first few weeks because the doctor wanted to be sure she was getting enough to eat.  During the day it was every 2 hours and at night it was every 3-4 hours. At some point, I don’t remember when it was, I decided that instead of nursing her at night I was going to feed her a bottle before she went to bed and then when I had to wake her up during the night.  It was breast milk because I was pumping twice a day, as advised by a dear friend to build my supply up before I went back to work, so that was good, but I still felt a little guilty.  Like I wasn’t good enough to strictly nurse her all day every day.  I eventually got over that because she started sleeping better and better and eventually (after timed feedings were done) didn’t wake up in the middle of the night for that second bottle.  Then I decided that since she didn’t need that one maybe she didn’t need the one right before bed and I would try to nurse her.  For the first few nights I still kept a bottle handy in case she woke up.  I am a night owl and not really a schedule person, so she didn’t have a bedtime for a while.  I considered her sleeping through the night if she slept from 11pm to 4:30 or 5am. When she was still sleeping in our room I would just sit up on the side of the bed and feed her, but once we moved her to her own room either Gary or I would go get her.  Every once in a while I would feed her in her nursery or in the living room, but I was so tired I just wanted to stay close to my bed.  When she moved to her room, in July, and she would wake up before Gary went to work, I would just stick her in the bed with us.  When he got out of bed he would always move her over to his spot and let us continue sleeping…those were the days *sigh*.

I wasn’t necessarily feeling nervous or anxious about leaving her when I went back to work because I had already left her with other people.  I was blessed enough to stay home with her for 3 ½ months!  By the way, if you live in Tennessee we have a TMLA, which states we can get up to 16 weeks of leave, whereas the FMLA only allows for 12.  My sweet and lovely husband, even though we might have gone into the hole just a tad, allowed me to stay home for the full 16 weeks.  Only the first part is paid through benefits so after a while I wasn’t offering anything financially.  If it weren’t for those dad gum student loans (but I wouldn’t trade those years at Freed for anything).  Anyway, so Gary and I had left her with family to go on several dates and do other things that she couldn’t tag along to.  The part that was the hardest, was that I wasn’t doing something necessarily ‘fun’ while I was away from her.  That might sound bad, but it’s truly how I felt.  Plus, the first week I had to get everything back in order and people were not sensitive to the fact that I was coming back to work after maternity leave.  I tried to let them know why I had been gone, but it didn’t mean anything to some people.

My first week back was definitely the hardest and it was probably the 2nd and 3rd day that were the toughest out of that week.  It was like it finally hit me that this was going to the norm and it was sad. Thankfully, my sister-in-law is keeping her so I know she’s in good hands.  Getting on a regular pumping schedule wasn’t too difficult.  The company I work for, Service Source, hires young people so we are all at about the same stage in our lives.  There are 3 other nursing mothers that I know of and several others that are pregnant.  They have a room for us to pump in, which is super nice because I was reading another blog the other day where this girl had to pump in her car.  It made me extremely thankful!  There's a little fridge in there to keep our milk cold during the day.  The only thing I would like to have in there as well is a small sink to rinse the bottle after pumping.  I go ahead and put my milk in bags so I don't have to carry a trillion bottles to and from work.

The first day Gary dropped Wren off with Emily I wrote her a note to let her know that I didn’t really have her on a schedule, so she could set whatever schedule she needed.  It took them a few days to get in a good groove.  I don’t know if Wren was having some separation anxiety, but at first she was eating like 24-30 ounces in a 9 hour span.  HOLY COW PIGGY PIGGY!!  She should only be eating about 24- 28 ounces a full day at this point.  I noticed that she wasn’t really hungry anytime soon after we got home in the evenings, so we just asked Emily to cut out her last bottle and it’s been 1,000 times better!!  She eats, pretty regularly, 18 ounces while she is there and then whatever I nurse her when I get home.

When I was at home with her, I would pump twice a day for 20 minutes, once in the morning/early afternoon and then again before bed.  Depending on the day and if she had any bottles that day I would pump 10-20 ounces a day.  So, I wasn’t sure how it was all going to change once I wasn’t feeding her all day long.  I have been trying to cut out my nighttime pump, mainly because once she’s in bed I just want to go to bed, but I haven’t been successful with that yet.  I’ve tried to decrease the time every time, but I also want to make sure I empty myself as much as possible so I don’t wake up soaking wet. *maybe TMI, but I hate sleeping in bras.  I stopped wearing them to bed a few months in, so if I skip that nighttime pump I will sometimes wake up soaking wet.* Also, if I skip that pump, I’m dying by the time I get to work.  They lock the key up at night, for some reason, so I have to wait until the receptionist is here to get the key to the nursing room.  I know she thinks I’m crazy, but sometimes I’m rushing up there when she’s walking in the door because I just can’t take it.  Most mornings Wren doesn't wake up before I leave for work so my first pump of the day is usually between 8:30 to 10.  I normally pump about 15 to 20 ounces at that pump.  I go longer than I probably should for my second pump, but since I haven’t cut out the nighttime one I don’t want to pump 3 times at work and once at night, so I spread them out a little more.  My second pump I keep at 3pm, which is also the same time that Emily feeds her the final bottle of the day.  At this time, I usually pump 10-12 ounces.  I leave at 4 and I’m with my little cutie by 5.  She’s usually not hungry until around 6, but like I said I’m not much of a schedule person, so I just feed her when she acts hungry.  Bedtime varies between 8:30-10.  I really try to get her in bed before 9:30, so I can be in bed by 9:30, but it doesn’t always work that way.  I probably nurse her 2-3 times at night before bed and then pump again after she’s asleep.  At this pump I normally pump 4-6 ounces.  So a full day I pump anywhere from 25-40 ounces and she is only eating 18 ounces while she’s away from me.  I had no idea I was going to be able to pump that much, but I feel so blessed that I am able to.  I know that anything can happen so I pump and save as much as I can so she will have breast milk for as long as possible.

I have followed what I like to call the ‘Davis girl’s regimen.’  My best friend Rachel and her sister, Stephanie, are pumping machines!  They are both working moms and here’s how they do it:
Drink 100 ounces of water a day (I’m not always great at this, but I do my best)
Don’t drink a lot of caffeine (I try to leave it at one caffeine beverage in the morning just to get me going)
From day one start pumping twice a day for 20 minutes (even if nothing is coming out.  It's telling your body you need to produce that much)
Make sure to at least eat 3 meals a day and snacks in between if you need to (While you are nursing you should get an extra 300 calories per day.
Nurse on demand. If the baby acts hungry, feed them. You will feel like all you are doing is feeding
the baby for the first few weeks/months of their life, but that's telling your body that you need that milk.
(edited to add: If your baby is nursing non-stop and losing weight check for a lip or tongue tie. Not all
peds can see these so checking with a lactation consultant is best!)
Some people have said it depends on the size of your breasts as to how much you pump.  I have no idea if that's true or not, but it could be the case.   I notice that if I drink more caffeine in a day I don’t pump as much the next day.  Rachel has mentioned that if she doesn’t eat a lot she won’t pump as much.  This regimen is definitely worth a try if you are thinking about nursing and pumping.

The evenings are snuggle time for baby Wren and me.  I totally follow the rule as much as I possibly can that housework DOESN’T matter.  HOLD YOUR BABY!!  I apologize to Gary all the time with how messy the house is and I remind him that I was never a very good housekeeper in the first place. He just shrugs and says, “I’m not either.”  We are working on supplementing my income so I can stay-at-home, but until that’s possible we will just get lots of extra snuggle time at night and keep up this pumping and nursing schedule.

To all you nursing moms or moms in general, keep up the great work and give yourself a pat on the back, high-five, thumbs up, mani/pedi, whatever makes you feel good.  You are awesome!!

You can also read Feeding Baby Part 1 and Part 2 to read other mom's experiences.

No comments: