Wednesday, September 2, 2015

some thoughts on nursing and pumping

Before Emerson was born I had decided to breastfeed. I weighed the pros and cons of nursing versus using formula, and decided that for us, nursing was the way to go. I wasn't crazy about the actual practice of it, but once he was born, it seemed less weird and I kept with it. Those first few months of nursing were truly horrible though [you can read about it here and here if you want]. Everyone kept telling me it would get better, it would get easier, how wonderful breastfeeding was. It was not wonderful and it was not easy. We struggled for the first few months - it was painful for me and Emerson every time he latched on and while he ate. If I wasn't  such a stubborn person, I would have thrown the towel in. In hind sight, I should have just invested in a really good pump and some good bottles. I have a really cheap, single, pump. It barely worked, and caused more frustration than anything. But for some reason, even when I was writhing in pain every single time Emerson would latch on, the thought never occurred to me to pump. It's like I didn't realize he could take a bottle. Though, anytime we tried to give him a bottle, he never took it. As much as I loved bottles and the idea of using them, I didn't use them with him. Why, did I not? It would have saved us both so many tears.

one of my first pictures with Oliver

This go around, I was given a really nice pump. I was shocked when I opened a gift to see a fancy pump in there. I knew I wanted a pump. I knew I wanted to use it. But I wasn't really sure how to go about it pumping since it was something I'd never really done before. Sure, I knew how to do it, but not all the logistics and such like when and how often and what not.

While I pumped several times while at the hospital after having Oliver. The first time was a few hours after he was born; he was in the NICU and I was in recovery and in my room for a while without him, so I pumped because that's what I needed to do. Then once my milk came in, Oliver would eat and I would pump and pump some more. It was a little crazy and an answer to prayers at the same time. Even the nurses were impressed with how much I was already making. Once I got home, I continued to pump as I felt was necessary, but never offered Oliver a bottle.

Then, a week or so ago I was thinking about what the coming months hold for us, mainly two things: Bible study and small group. Bible study is only with other women, and of course none of them would care if I nursed during the group discussion. Our small group consists of couples and I'm sure no one would mind if I nursed while we were there. I have a cover and would use it regardless of if I nurse around one other lady, a group of ladies, the couples in our small group, or strangers in a restaurant. If other people are around, I use a cover. The only trouble is: I hate using a cover. They basically don't work for me. I've tried a few different ones and they just don't work. And I'm they type of person to nurse without one, the goods must be covered.

While thinking about my hate of using a cover and nursing in public [i.e. not the privacy of my home]  I realized I could give a bottle to Oliver. After all, I have a good pump, why not put it to good use? I could take a bottle to Bible study and small group and pump before or after as needed [right? for those of you who've done the whole pumping thing, is that the way it works?]. A revelation I wish I'd come to sooner, but one that I was happy to to come to. A bottle would solve my struggle with nursing in public and using a cover. I'd be happy. Baby would be happy. Win win win.

So I dug out our one good bottle, got a replacement nipple for it since the other one had been thrown away after Emerson's thrush, and washed it. Then I gave Oliver his first bottle. He ate so well and I absolutely loved giving him a bottle. I don't mind breastfeeding and it's going much better this go around with Oliver [thank the Lord], but I don't love it. It's just what I have to do. But I loved giving that bottle to Oliver. It was simple, I didn't have maneuver my clothing this way and that, I didn't have to use both hands, I didn't have to sit a certain way, I didn't have to be exposed at all. I actually enjoyed feeding him. And he seemed more than happy to take a bottle.

Which is when I wondered why in the world I didn't bottle feed Emerson when we were dealing with thrush. Stupid me. Live and learn, right? 

I enjoyed giving him that bottle so much, that it makes me want to always give him a bottle, at least during the day when I'm not half asleep. He did so well with taking a bottle, which makes me want to do it all the more. Bottle are a beautiful thing to me.

But here's where I run into a predicament: how do I do that? I know moms usually only pump if they're going to be out and about or if they work outside the home. Since I work at home and don't have to pump, it makes it a little more tricky. If I give Oliver a bottle, I still have to pump, which would take longer than just nursing him in the first place. But bottle feeding him is actually fun and I like that method of feeding him.

Have any of you stay at home mamas pumped and bottle fed instead of nursing? How did you go about doing that? Or are you comfortable nursing anywhere, any time? If the so, what are tips you have? What are your thoughts on breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding vs. formula. My intention is not to get in a great big debate over what it best or better - you know what's right and best for you and your baby; I'm just curious to hear your thoughts!


Lauren said...

So...I nursed Elyse until she was 1, and I plan to do the same with Nora. However, I'm like you and I don't LOVE every moment of it. I'm honestly going to be glad when I can wear normal clothes that I don't have to worry about hiking up just so I can feed my baby. We started bottles with both girls around 6 weeks, because I went back to work part-time at 12 weeks. I don't ever give my girls a bottle...I leave that job up to my mom (my babysitter) or Nick if he's the one at home at night. This has given me incredibly freedom to go workout or have a girls' night without worrying about the girls being well-taken care of!

As for pumping, I just try to pump once around the time they would typically get a bottle. Or if they take a bottle right before bed, then I just pump as soon as I get home. It sounds like you probably have a great stash in your I say go for it and take some time for yourself!

Meghan said...

Noah wouldn't latch so I pumped and bottle fed. I didn't produce enough so I had to supplement with formula too. But what I would do is pump, then either feed that to him right away or put in the fridge for later. To build up your supply of pumped milk in the fridge and freezer, you could start by just pumping a little after you breastfeed him. After you get some in reserve, you can just pump every few hours and feed him whenever he's hungry. It can definitely more time consuming though.

Jessica (The Newly) said...

I am with you on the breastfeeding, sister! Though I know that its the best thing for my babies, I do not always feel like I love it at all. My supply has never been excessive, so I am constantly stressed about making enough to keep Vivi fed (and remember feeling the same way about Caleb). I am also super modest, and don't feel comfortable nursing in public unless it's a place where I can be pretty well hidden and secure. You are not alone!!!

Natalie | Mrs. Janney | said...

I pumped A LOT for Henry. The only trick with pumping instead of nursing is that you are supposed to pump every time they feed, otherwise your supply will drop. It isn't such a big deal in the beginning, because you are producing so much. But more so after they start solids, it is REALLY important to pump EVERY time they would nurse. So when you go to your small group, you would probably take a bottle from previously pumped milk and then pump when you get home. The other con for pumping is that they can draw milk out of the breast so much more efficiently nursing than pumping. So your supply can drop a little because you just aren't getting the milk out. Plus with washing parts and the fact that you can't do anything really while you pump or while you feed the bottle (versus just when you are nursing), it just takes more time. But bottle-feeding is certainly more convenient when out and about that nursing. Good luck! I hope you find a groove that works for you! And great job sticking with it.

kelseylynae said...

You know my story. Blythe had A LOT of bottles. She would down a bottle in literally 2 minutes OR we could nurse for 45. Say what?! So for me, it WAS quicker to actually pump, give her a bottle, then wash everything. However, she was my only child. With Becks it was a little trickier and then at four months she up and decided she hated the bottle [little rat]. Basically what I did was tried to always pump after the morning feed, because I could get almost another entire feed. And if I consistently did that, then if I had to/wanted to skip one of the afternoon feedings and just bottle feed, I could. Or I could save it up. With Becks my plan was to be very proactive in pumping so I could stop nursing at 9/10 months and have enough stockpiled to just bottle feed her until we changed to milk. And I had enough… but then she wouldn't take the bottle so I gave it all away. But I switched her to whole milk at 10 months anyway because…second baby! ;)

People always say that you can't get as much pumping as you can nursing/that you don't get as much etc, but I've had several lactation consultants tell me that's not true and several friends who exclusively pumped for 12 months and had PLENTY.

Basically it boils down to: you need to pump as many times as you need to feed him, but it doesn't always have to be when you feed him. You could save one of your pumping sessions for when the kids are all asleep, another for when Landon gets home, and another for after they are in bed for the night. As long as you know you aren't going to nurse him right away, you'll have enough milk. DOes that make sense?

Long live the bottle!!! AND I had a friend who would buy the bulk formula at SAMs and nurse when it was convenient and formula in a bottle when it wasn't. And I was so jealous. And I should have just done that. What is wrong with us?!!

Good luck. You'll figure it out. Glad it's going better this time. [And if it makes you feel better, I never once had a breastfeeding session I enjoyed in two years time, but pumping never bothered me much].