Pumpaholic

I’m a pumpaholic and I’m learning it doesn’t really gel well with being back at work. [insert sigh]

Allow me to explain …

You see, I had no dreams or visions of breastfeeding during my pregnancy. It was something I hoped to do if I could, but didn’t see myself doing it for more than six months. I knew that any milk I could give Maya was better than no milk and so I made it my mission to breast feed.

She had a great latch, so we never had issues with that … the problem has always been me and my supply.

The first two weeks of Maya’s life, she was was exclusively breastfed — via me or donor milk the hospital sent us home with. It was hard and I didn’t love it at first, but it did get easier, though I worried I wasn’t giving her enough. This was confirmed at her two-week well-baby visit where she had lost too much weight, and I was encouraged by her pediatrician to pump after feedings in addition to giving her formula.

And so I did. I didn’t give up (though part of me wanted to), and feeling much like a milking cow, I dubbed myself “Bessie” and pumped away, since it fit more into my lifestyle than nursing. (I still nursed but just on occasion; still the same situation today). Also, I liked knowing how much she was getting and she never seemed satisfied with nursing (or would fall asleep which doesn’t help either of us; if I’m engorged the milk needs to go somewhere!)

By the 2-month mark, Maya was up to 4-5 oz. per feeding and yet I was only making 2 oz. per feeding. Which meant clearly I just wasn’t able to produce enough for her, even though I tried everything to up my supply.

And so, like Heather at Heather Eats Almond Butter recently blogged about, now Maya (a la her daughter Summer) is getting half and half … as in, half her feedings are breast milk and the other half are formula. (She takes in roughly probably 12-16 oz. a day of breast milk and the rest in the form of Enfamil, usually in the form of 5-6 oz. bottles of each). I still breast feed some mornings to be close to her, but for the most part, all the breast milk she gets from me is expressed.

Which brings me to my troubles as of late.

Long before returning to work, I already had supply issues (in that it would take me 2-3 pumps per session to make a bottle and I only made 2 oz. per pumping session — which, according to this article I found is quite normal). And at work, I just can’t pump three times in a three-hour time period. I more or less have three 15-minute windows each day to pump, and can’t sit there on the pump all day. I could try staying on longer each time, but to be honest, my breasts freaking hurt after that long!!!

And so now I’m trying to keep my supply up while working and it’s NOT easy. In addition to the actual stress of producing milk, I’m doing it in our mother’s room at work — which is lovely and has a comfy couch and table — but I’ve had an awkward experience each day so far, including yesterday where I found our security guard snoozing on the chair in the dark!

In addition to pumping at work not being convenient, I’m not making very much during the time I’m pumping (6-7 oz. total — i.e., Maya’s dinner feeding), so it almost doesn’t feel worth it at times. The thing is, if I were to stop pumping entirely at work, my supply would inevitably crash and I’d end up not being able to breast feed, period, which isn’t what I want, either.

And so it goes.

I will continue to be a Pumpaholic as long as I can — and I’m aiming for another month, at least. All I can do is take it week by week, and really, day by day — hopefully for a full six months. We shall see …

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7 thoughts on “Pumpaholic

  1. Lissa,

    Thanks for sharing this experience and how hard this juggle is. I was unable to keep up pumping and working. It was just too much work for not much benefit. I was consumed by guilt at first, but then realized how much more relaxed and happy we all were without that additional stress/pressure.

    Good luck in whatever you decide, and know that you have lots of support from your readers!

    -Christy

  2. Thanks so much, Christy! Today I’m working from home and it’s SO much easier to pump at home. I can do it whenever because I don’t need to go into the mother’s room to do it!! I will see how long I can keep it up, but for now, I’m going to try.

  3. Oh Lissa,
    You know I get it. It’s so hard, and you know I am cheering for you to make it to 6 months, but if you don’t, then that is okay. You have done an amazing job, and Maya got breast milk her first 3 months of like which is so important.

    Pumping exclusively at home is one thing, but pumping at work would be much harder in my opinion…especially when it involves security guards asleep on the couch. Hello, awkward.

    I think you’re doing an amazing job and I wish I could say that your supply won’t drop that much if you stopped pumping as much, but sadly it will. When Summer started sleeping through the night, I tried skipping that middle of the night pumping session and had to start back up again. It’s hard, but I keep telling myself it won’t be forever.

    Hugs to you and Maya. Again, you’ve done/are doing an awesome job and keep in mind that if mama isn’t happy, then no one is going to be happy. Never neglect taking care of yourself too.

    P.S. Pumping used to hurt my boobs too. Turns out the flanges that came with my pumping kit were too small. They were size 24’s, and I needed a 27 for one and a 30 for the other. Pumping is so much better now.

    1. Thanks so much honey!! I am working from home today and am able to pump every hour or so just a smidge (hands-free bras rock–thanks for the inspiration! I DEF feel my supply dropping so good thing I will be home three days a week (F/S/S) so I can build it up then and might just need 4 pump sessions in a 9 hour work day. Le sigh. A friend said I might need bigger flanges too — I am going to look at BRU for some new ones this weekend. I have small boobs but I guess maybe they aren’t so small now! 🙂 Thank you sooo much for the support!

  4. I hear ya. It is a constant struggle for me as well. I can’t help to feel guilt every time I give him formula or he is hungry an hour later from nursing. Who would have thought that nursing/pumping would be such a challenge. Hang in there. I will be right where you at in less than a month! You are doing the best that you can and Maya is a happy baby and gaining weight 🙂

  5. You are doing a great job! I too had supply issues, but then my little baby boy wasn’t very little when he was born! He was nearly 10 pounds (not sure how that happened, except he was nearly 2 weeks late)! I breast fed for 2 months, but also had to supplement with formula. I was planning on breastfeeding for 6 months, but after 2 my supply was gone. I was pumping, taking special vitamins, but nothing came out. Oh well. But my body did what it could, and I’m grateful that he had breastmilk for the first 2 months.
    Keep it up, it’s a struggle, and you’re doing great!

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