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 …