On Nursing and Pumping

I have a confession for you guys: breastfeeding is wonderful for us.

I had so many worries during pregnancy about breastfeeding because you hear of so many horror stories (bleeding nipples! low supply! no supply! thrush! mastitis! poor latch! lip tie! tongue tie! I COULD GO ON). My standard quip to anyone’s inquiries on if I was going to breastfeed was always that that was my plan and I’d see how it went.

And then baby boy came along and I thought my fears were being realized. He wasn’t so patient at the breast and would sometimes scream and cry and give up before my milk would ever let down. We had to use a nipple shield for one breast because he just didn’t seem to like that side. I was really nervous about our one and only lactation consultation because I thought we’d get there and nothing would happen – he’d just refuse to nurse – and the LC would send me off with some failure to nurse diagnosis of shame (note – that’s not a thing, that’s only a thing in Belle’s neurotic mind).

Of course, all of this “trouble” happened in the first couple of weeks. We just needed some time to practice nursing, that’s all. Little boy quickly realized my milk would let down soon and got a little more patient. We weaned off of the nipple shield within the first two weeks or so. Ever since then, we’ve been trucking along beautifully.

I’m so grateful for the nursing relationship that we’ve enjoyed so far. It truly has been wonderful and while the middle-of-the-night feedings are certainly draining (when you’re the only one who can feed the baby), there’s part of me that enjoys those dark quiet moments with my son. I know I’ll miss them when they’re gone.

So nursing – yay!

But pumping, you guys. Ugh.

Pumping is not so fun. And I’m one of the lucky ones who has a pretty great set up.

At work, I utilize our only conference room without windows (it’s literally the only place in our office without windows). My boss had the building put a lock on the door for privacy. I have no restrictions on pumping “breaks” (I usually take my computer into the room with me). My coworker even brought in a mini fridge for my exclusive use. And remember – I’m only at the office for two days a week! The rest of the time I’m working from home which means I have complete freedom to pump.

And yet, I still put it off. I still find the pumping breaks intrusive to my day. I’m constantly at odds with pushing the sessions back, but not too far back lest I throw off my entire schedule. And just this morning I got thrown another loop. The dumpling’s daycare teachers suggested increasing his bottle sizes. He’s gulping down the 4oz bottles he gets right now and it’s increasingly clear that he’s still hungry afterwards. My problem is that I produce just enough to cover the three 4oz bottles he consumes while he’s at daycare. Upping those bottles to 5oz means that I don’t currently produce enough, so I’m pumping every hour on the hour today, trying to increase my output.

I blame part of the problem on the fact that I can now specifically measure how much milk the dumpling gets and how much milk I can pump (notice – not produce, I produce enough milk for him just fine while he’s nursing). Being able to measure things just adds a whole layer of complexity and worrying though. Especially on days when I don’t pump enough to meet his needs as it’s so much clearer now. I can no longer say, man! He’s eating so frequently today – growth spurt! Now it’s more like so he had his usual 12 ounces at daycare and I only managed to pump 10.5 ounces… guess I’m pumping before bed tonight. Because that’s the other thing – technically if I don’t produce enough during my daytime pumping sessions, I could always add extra pumpings at night, either before I go to bed or in the middle of the night between his nursing sessions. It all depends on how much I value my sleep and sanity versus how much I really want to make sure he continues to get breast milk. And cue mom guilt, because it’s always just around the corner.

And – oh look at the time! – it’s time to pump again.

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