Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Life as an exclusive (almost) pumping mother..

Life as an exclusive (almost) pumping mother..

I wanna share my breastfeeding journey with my baby, Ethan James.. Technically, I'm bottle feeding my baby, but the source of his milk is from my breasts, so it's still called breastfeeding, right? (my son's pediatrician asked if I'm breastfeeding or formula feeding my baby? Not pump feeding or formula feeding, plus according my gynae, there's no difference between pumping or breast feeding directly, there are both considered breastfeeding and both can stop menstruation, just that different way of feeding, one from the tap and another one from the bottle)

When I was pregnant with Ethan James, I was very certain that I was going to breastfeed my baby, I was so determined and I did my breastfeeding preparation real well.. You name it, I did it! No joke, I took breastfeeding class, I bought that breastfeeding book, I bought nursing cover (2 pieces in fact), I even bought nursing tops & of course cheap breast pump, I was thinking why would I need an expensive breast pump while I'm staying at home & breastfeeding my baby, definitely not pumping except when I need a little relief from breast engorgement.. Oh man, I was so wrong!!!

Let me put back pieces of my memory together before I forget why did I choose this path ( as an exclusive pumping mommy)

When Ethan James was born, I tried to get him to latch on.. It was successful, he latched on pretty well with the help of lactation consultant from the hospital I delivered him.. I was taught different kind of latching positions and what to expect.. Second attempt of breastfeeding was successful too.. Of course it wasn't always smooth along the road.. I had times when he was too sleepy or simply just not interested to latch on or times when he was latching on for a while, then screaming for no reason.. It was frustrating of course until we introduced bottle, it was a life saver for us.. Bottle feeding made him somehow a more contented baby.. The other reason we introduced bottle that early was because our baby was jaundice.. He needed more milk to get rid of his quite high jaundice level and I couldn't give him enough breast milk a few days after his birth, so we had to supplement him with formula and again it was a life saver for us.. He gained weight and no longer a jaundice..
Although there were bad times during direct breastfeeding, there were good times too.. There were times when he latched on perfectly and very contented after that.. During his first month of life, I breastfed him a few times every day and bottle fed him most of the time.. He somehow preferred bottle better than nipple.. There were some people who judged me I was wrong to introduce bottle that early, it caused nipple confusion and it's my fault if my baby didn't want to breastfeed directly anymore.. Bla..Bla..Bla.. People would only understand if they were in my shoes.. Having a baby who was always screaming during breastfeeding, a baby who didn't feel content at all after feeding, a hungry baby, a sleepy baby every time he latched on my breast and didn't bother to wake up at all.. I never regretted my decision to introduce bottle that early.. At least he was happy, full and contented.. I wouldn't want to starve my son for the sake of breastfeeding prejudice.. Whatever it's I just want him to be happy, breastfeed or not!!
For the first month of his life, I breastfed him on and off, it was more like a little snacking for him & bonding session between mother & son.. Nothing like the source of his meal was from.. Bottles were still his main feeding.. During that period, I pumped my milk part time because I wanted to rest well during my confinement period.. My son was getting 40-50% of expressed breast milk and the rest was formula milk..

Entering the second month of his life, direct breastfeeding was becoming more difficult than ever.. He screamed and totally rejected my nipple.. Frustrating!! It was a horrible moment for both of us and breastfeeding supposed to be a happy bonding session for both of us but we weren't happy at all.. So I made my decision to stop direct breastfeeding at all and to feed him expressed breast milk from bottle..
I never looked back and I did miss that breastfeeding bonding moment but looking at my baby and how well he's doing right now, I never regretted my decision

In his second month of life, my breast milk production has somehow increased.. Right now, I'm able to produce up to 700ml of expressed breast milk in one day which is about 80 % - 90% of his daily milk intake.. At 2 months old, my baby has about 700-900 ml of milk every day, he has about 600-700 ml of breast milk and 100-200 ml of formula milk every day.. But most of his diet is from his mother's breasts!!

I'm still expressing breast milk part-time as I can't commit full time yet.. I pumped averagely every 4 hours, but during the night time, I can go 8 hours without pumping as I find it troublesome to wake up in the middle of the night and do pumping.. I know that the Internet has always mentioned the more pumping sessions, the more milk women can produce.. Bla.. Bla..Bla.. Pump very 2 hours Bla.. Bla..Bla.. I can't do it, pumping every 2 hours is crazy, full stop!!

I know that if I pump more sessions, I can wean off my son from his formula milk now but come on, 100-200 ml of formula milk every night wouldn't hurt him, isn't? It's more convenient for us, not needing to wake up every 2-2.5 hours to feed our little one.. (For our case, one bottle of 100 ml breast milk can last our baby for 2-2.5 hours, where 100 ml formula milk can last him for 3-3.5 hours), so I decided to give my son exclusive breast milk from 7am to 12am, from 12am all the way to 6am, he's going to get formula milk, at least 1 bottle.. So far we are happy with that arrangement, my husband can feed our baby too.. It's only 2 feedings and we can go back to sleep!!

My exclusive, oh well almost, pumping experience? It does hurt sometimes, I have had bleeding nipples, I have had severe engorgement, I have had nipple cysts, I have had cracked & super sore nipples, I have had super sore areola until I was so desperate to change bigger pair of nipple shields, I have had all problems you can ever find in breastfeeding!! You name it, I have it!
At the beginning of my pumping journey, I thought I couldn't continue this life, this is crazy and I thought I might give up anytime soon , I wouldn't be able make it to 6 months mark, it hurt, it was very time consuming and tiring, oh man.. I was wrong, 9 weeks later.. I'm still here, pumping his milk and going stronger than ever, ahaaa!!

I'm so lucky to be able to pump part time, 5 times, sometimes 4 times in 24 hours time and still producing enough milk, at least 70-80% of my son's milk intake.. Win-win situation, isn't? I don't have pumping schedule and I don't follow that.. I just make sure I pump milk no more than 5 hours interval during the day or before 6pm and after 6pm, I make sure the interval is not longer than 8 hours.. If the interval is more than 8 hours, I will be facing severe engorgement which can be difficult to solve..

It's not always easy to pump milk while you need to take care a baby full time.. Especially for Ethan's case, he's a fussy feeder.. We can spend one full hour just to feed that darn 100 ml of milk.. He's always sleepy during feeding and can't be bothered to wake up no matter how hard we tried.. He's either very sleepy during feeding or having super cranky mood!! Bottle feeding him is already challenging enough, I can't imagine having him latching on my breast all day long.. Direct breastfeeding just didn't work for us.. I'm still longed for direct breastfeeding of course, but not with this baby, maybe next baby.. I'll never know...
My pumping output varies.. Maximum 250 ml per session and minimum 80 ml per session.. Depending on how many hours I skip pumping.. Generally it's about 80 ml every 3 hours and 200 - 250 ml every 7 to 8 hours.. Not a great producer compared to those women who can produce up to 1 liter milk per day.. But I'm happy enough, 600-700 ml milk I produce daily is not a small amount though and it already benefits my baby very much. I'm grateful of course!!

Here's my typical day as an (almost) exclusive pumping mommy:

** each breast milk feeding is 100 ml or 3.5 oz and he has to be fed every 2-2.5 hours but when he's napping, he can go without feeding for 3-3.5 hours..

7am : baby wakes up
8am : feeding time (breast milk)
9am : pumping milk
10am : change diaper & playing time
10.30am : feeding time (breast milk)
11am : shower time
12pm: change diaper & playing time
1pm: feeding time (breast milk)
1.30pm: pumping milk
2pm: baby's napping time
4pm: feeding time (breast milk)
5pm: change diaper & playing time
5.30pm: pumping milk
6.30pm: feeding time (breast milk)
7pm: clean up, change pajamas
8pm: playing time
8.30pm: feeding time (breast milk)
9pm: baby's napping time
9.30pm: pumping milk
11pm: feeding time (formula milk)
12am - 4.30am: sleeping time
4.30am: change diaper & feeding time (formula milk)
5.30am: pumping milk
8am: back to feeding time & breast milk

So as you can see from my typical schedule, my baby has about 6 breast milk feedings and 2 formula milk feedings and in between feeding & napping, I have to find time to pump my milk and honestly it's not easy as I have to wash & sterilize my breast pump parts & by the time I finish everything, the next feeding is up! And don't forget my baby is a fussy eater, he can take up to 1 hour just to finish a bottle of milk, most of the time, we will have to divide 1 bottle of milk into 2 feedings

Mommy is stressing up of course & hope things can get better when he's older..

Nevertheless.. I think everything is just worth it!! The pain, the sleepless nights, the stress level, etc.. Looking at his little face & smile just makes me feel so grateful every single day having him in my life!!

I love you, little sweetheart!!
My latest achievement as a stay at home mother (SAHM) is stocking up 4-5 bottles of expressed breast milk by 8 A.M, so I can feed my baby until evening time.. Stockpiling breast milk isn't fun at all, it takes so much time & sacrifice but definitely worth the pain!!
My relationship with my Medela breast pump is like hate-love relationship.. I hate it so much but need it so badly and can't live without it now! It's much more important than any gadgets I've ever owned, more important than my Iphone..Without it, I can't feed my baby, without it, I will be engorged like Pamela Anderson.. I hate you but I love you although you're such a pain!
 My little man!

He looks adorable when sleeping, Ethan James is a lovely little baby except the feeding time, it's like a battle! Mommy is stressing out so much

My son is really spoilt, he just loves to be cuddled and sleep in my arms.. (That also explains why my eyes are getting darker & puffy)

Love from Mommy & EJ

1 comment:

  1. Hi i jus came across your blog. You didnt know how much this blog save me. I almost went postnatal depression jus becoz i want to solely rely on breastmilk but im unable to latch my son! So your blogg gave me all the human rights to make me feel human again tat its ok to mix formula. As of now.. Im giving fomula as little as 60ml aday but it cause me my sleep tiredness! Time to follow ur plan.! Thank u life savour