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This post is brought to you by Chrissy as part of our “feeding your baby” series.
Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am a planner. So when I was pregnant I had these grand plans of exclusively breastfeeding. I had read the books, taken classes, talked with friends, and my breastfeeding game plan was ready to go. (You know, skin to skin, try to get baby to latch immediately after birth, no artificial nipples, etc.) Well, Miss Hadley had plans of her own!
Hadley ingested a lot of fluid during birth which made her think she was full, and overrode the instinct to nurse immediately. After two stomach washings to remove the fluid, she was in a frenzy to eat, but we couldn’t maintain a good latch. Believe me when I say we tried everything. The lactation consultants practically stayed in my room, and I had outpatient consults as well. They all kept saying I was doing everything right, but Hadley just wouldn’t stay on the breast, no matter what tricks we tried.
I was determined to give my baby breast milk. After all, “breast is best!” So even before my milk came in, I began pumping colostrum while in the hospital. My plan had been to pump until we successfully established breastfeeding. Unfortunately, that never happened. This is how I found myself exclusively pumping to feed my baby.
I always got the same reaction from breastfeeding and formula feeding mamas: “Wow! I don’t know how you do it!” I would just smile and shrug. It was all I had ever known.
I’m not saying it was easy. I pumped every three hours around the clock for the first three months, and after that only dropped the middle of the night. The first day I was home alone with Hadley, she woke from a nap while I was in the middle of a pumping session. My newborn laid there screaming for milk, but had wait for Mama to finish pumping. Talk about heart wrenching! Also, pumping comes with lots of accessories. Normally I love accessories, but not these! All the washing, drying and keeping up with pump parts felt like a full-time job. And God forbid I ever leave the house without the pump. I’ve had more than my fair share of 15-minute sessions in the back of a car. We even had to buy an extra “garage” fridge to store all of that pumped milk.
There were other problems as well. Breast milk adapts to the needs of the baby, but only from enzymes in the baby’s saliva. Hadley was never latching, so she wasn’t receiving that benefit. Also, when her milk consumption began to peak I was no longer pumping enough to meet her needs. In fact, it was around this time (seven to eight months) that I began to dry up. I was devastated. By the end of her eighth month Hadley was primarily on formula, but still receiving one bottle of breast milk a day from my frozen stash. That lasted until she was 11 months old.
Pumping did have a few benefits. Mainly, I was able to give my child what her body was designed to digest. Also, I knew exactly how much she was eating, which made the pediatrician happy. Since I was pumping at very regular intervals I never had a problem with leaking. Having bottles of breast milk ready to go allowed others to feed her with ease. And, I never had to fight the breastfeeding in public fight. (Which, I’m all for, by the way.) However, I did worry I was judged by others who just assumed I was formula feeding.
Ideally, I still would have preferred to feed Hadley directly from the tap. I hope I get that chance next time around. If not, the pump and I will get reacquainted for round two, but I must insist on a hands free pump next time!!
Chrissy lives in the Athens, Georgia, where she loves to watch her Dawgs play “between the hedges.” Much of her time is spent reading to her daughter, Hadley, providing physical therapy at a local hospital and hitting the gym. She is also a proud Marine wife to her husband, Aaron.
This is personal advice and should not be substituted for advice from a medical professional.
Read other entries in this series: