Milk Pumping Factory Part 2

We’re happy to share a guest post by our friend Gini and her breastfeeding experience. The story of the breastfeeding journey she and her daughter went on will be shared here in parts. Today we conclude with part 2.

We brought the boobs full and the baby hungry and were primed for some breastfeeding lessons from a pro. Claire got naked and weighed, and then we nursed. Fifteen minutes on each side. Weighed again, and she pretty much shocked us all. She had only taken half an ounce in thirty minutes of nursing. At this rate, she would still not get enough if she was attached to the boob 24/7. I felt so deflated, like I wasn’t doing something right.

We tried again, this time with the lactation consultant all up in my business and touching my boobs more than my husband had in months. Claire started screaming. And I started crying. My mom sees me crying and she starts crying. I’m sure we were a sight to behold. Claire was starving and I felt like my boobs were going to literally explode in her face. To offer me some relief, the lactation consultant suggested I pump. Since I am notorious for forgetting things, I had never been so glad to have remembered a little black backpack in my life.

Mom and I had gone to Babies R Us when Claire was a few days old for a few minutes out of the house and to buy a pump. I knew that I would like to have the option of leaving Claire for a few hours or to have my husband feed her one middle-of-the-night when I couldn’t drag myself out from under the sheets. Armed with coupons (you can read more about my couponing tips and tricks here) we set out for what would be the single most used baby item in my house. Mom bought me the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Backpack (which is a double-electric) for a little more than $200.

And man, was it the best $200 bucks she’d ever spent! Not only did the pump give me relief in the lactation room, but it would go on to help me feed my baby for nearly six months. I told her that I wasn’t necessarily tied to the idea of feeding Claire from the breast- as long as she was fed- I was okay. So the decision was made, with great encouragement from the consultant and my mom… I would exclusively pump. She gave me loads of information on how to create and maintain a solid milk supply. Letting down with a pump is quite different than with a nursing infant, so I still had a lot to learn.

She put me on some supplements and a schedule. I was to pump 15 minutes every three hours during the day and every four hours at night, for a total of seven times in 24 hours. I was also to use the let-down button on the pump every five minutes so that I could have three separate let downs during each pumping session. I also was fitted for a correctly size breast shield and picked up another set of pump parts, both of which saved my life.

In the beginning, this is what my day looked like:

7am- Wake up, shower, eat breakfast

8am- Claire wakes up, feed/ change/ dress baby

9am- Pump, wash and make bottles for the day, clean pump parts from overnight (Claire is awake so she sits on the bed with me while I pump, and I wear her or she plays on the floor while I clean)

10am- Feed Claire

Noon- Claire is napping while I pump

1pm- Feed Claire, wash bottles and pump parts from morning (Luke is home for lunch so he plays with Claire while I make lunch, we both eat and I clean up)

3pm- Claire is napping while I pump

4pm- Feed Claire

5pm- Make Dinner

6pm- Pump, wash bottles and pump parts from the afternoon

7pm- Feed Claire, Eat Dinner

8pm- Bathe Claire, Put her to bed

9pm- Pump, wash parts so as to have two clean sets for overnight pumping, make night time bottles

10pm- Go to bed (or try to J)

Midnight- DH dreamfeeds Claire

1am- Pump

2am- Feed Claire

5am- Pump and Feed Claire

Start all over again at 7am

I’ll admit it was rough at first, but I got the hang of it. And my husband helped (as much as he could short of hooking himself up to the pump). In the beginning, I had trouble pumping an ounce per session, but when I began to wean four months later I was pumping nearly 10 ounces per session. And once your supply is established (around two months for me) you can eliminate one night time feeding (pump at 3am rather than 1am and 5am). And once your supply goes back up (like a week later) you can eliminate a day time pumping (1pm and 5pm rather than noon, 3pm and 6pm).

I pumped and I pumped for a little more than four months. I was able to feed my daughter and freeze over 1000 ounces of breast milk to take her almost to six months old. And I didn’t have any trouble weaning from the pump. I took the maximum dosage of Sudafed (and it’s safe to give your baby breast milk while taking this), got back on birth control (both of which will help dry of your milk) and cut one pumping session every three days.

Exclusively pumping (EPing) is an option. I am so glad someone gave me this option. It gave me a great sense of accomplishment that I was able to breastfeed my baby when nursing didn’t work for either of us. You need the support and understanding of family and friends. It is very difficult (or for me it was) to care for the baby while attached to a machine. EPing is an option that worked for me and my family. You have to do what works best for you and your family.

Luke and I do want to have more children (at least one, maybe two more). I think I will try to breastfeed, but first read and try to learn more about feeding from the breast. If it doesn’t work, like it didn’t for Claire, that’s fine. Or if I find feeding from teh breast to be more convenient, that’s fine too. It’s comforting knowing that exclusively pumping will always be an option.

The Milk Pumping Factory

We’re happy to share a guest post by our friend Gini and her breastfeeding experience. The story of the breastfeeding journey she and her daughter went on will be shared here in parts. Today we bring you part 1.

Hi, my name is Gini! My husband, Luke, and I welcomed our beautiful baby Claire into our family on October 11, 2009. I also have a step-daughter, Bella who is six, and we live outside of Birmingham, Alabama. I only have a few dozen readers over at The McGlothin Family but I thought I had a pretty good story to share. I hope you’ll agree.

Let me first start by saying that I am not pro-breastfeeding. Nor am I pro-pumping. Nor am I pro-formula feeding. I am pro-baby feeding. I think people that make you feel bad about the decisions you make for your family are morons.Those who give their babies bottles or those who nurse in public are both given the side-eye. Moms can’t win. Now I’ll get down from my soap box.

After a long labor and more than three hours of pushing, I was exhausted but overjoyed, holding this little angel in my arms.I just knew I would cradle her, look into the beautiful blue eyes passed down to her by her father and a glow would surround us as we began the bonding that is breastfeeding. I mean, this is supposed to be natural, right? Women have done this for centuries, right? How hard could it be, right?

Wrong. And wrong some more. Claire would fight the boob like it was poison delivered by a nipple made of broken glass. She would have nothing to do with nursing at all.I broke down and fed her formula (gasp!), which I was perfectly fine with. I was nervous about nipple confusion, but I still was naive enough to think she would come back to me and that glorious glow would find us again and we would both become breastfeeding pros in no time.

Also to consider was, long story short, I was laid off from my job last April when I was 16 weeks pregnant with Claire. Needless to say, I could not find a job given the economy, and on top of that I had an already big belly brewing. I knew I would be out of work at least until early 2010, so we needed to stretch every dollar in order to make it on one salary. Breastfeeding was part of that. We needed to save money at every turn, not spending it on formula when we could feed her breastmilk for free. Not only did I have the pressure I put on myself to be the perfect mom but I also had dollar signs flashing in my mind. The day after Claire was born I said to myself, come hell or high water, I would breastfeed Claire. I would not let her or my checkbook down.(And I am fully aware that this is pressure I put on myselfnot that anyone else put on me.Don’t ever let someone pressure you do something or be someone.)

So I spent lots of time with the lactation consultant in the hospital, and things slowly got better. Claire needed four or five formula bottles while we were there, and other than that, was starting to get the hang of the boob. I was so proud.Proud of myself. Proud of my baby. Really proud of my super supportive husband. We were a family, and we were making it through the first of many obstacles together.

And then we go home. And things got worse. Claire had lost more than the average 7% of her body weight before we were discharged. And when we saw the pediatrician again at 4 days old she was down almost 2 pounds from her birth weight. The pediatrician recommended we up the formula because Claire was simply not gaining enough weight. I began to doubt the idyllic breastfeeding situation I had fought so hard to create.

My milk finally came in when she was a week old. Now, I knew we would get back on track. Wrong again. Even with my crazy-full boobs waiting to be relieved, Claire still wasn’t getting enough to eat. So at ten days old, I packed up my momma and my babe and we trekked back to the hospital for another visit with the lactation consultant. The visit that would change everything.

To be continued…

Telling the good stories

It can be easy to get overwhelmed if you even just dip your toe into the breastfeeding debate. People can feel very strongly about anything related to breast-feeding and passionately express their opinions. Personally, I like passionate people, even people that passionately disagree with me. Living life with passion makes it exciting and hearing about others passionate opinions on any given subject gives me the opportunity to learn and grow. Even if it is to learn and grow more deeply in what I believe.

That said, the clamor of passionate voices can get to be a bit much for a new mom and her family. Even before baby comes everyone is an expert with the right way to care for the new little person. After the little one is taking up residence in the family’s home, all those experts, and then some, come out and start grading. It’s nerve wracking to say the least. When it comes to breast-feeding, it is down right intimidating and can be really scary.

Particularly when baby needs to eat and you’re out and about. Nursing in public, or NIP as it is often referred to, can spark a heated discussion just about anywhere. From the internet, where blogs, forums, facebook groups, and websites fan the flames of in-your-face debate, to mom groups, where not-so-subtle expressions burn branded looks of almost partisan level judgment from all sides. Not to mention everywhere in between: churches, restaurants, media, playgrounds, offices, and pretty much anywhere people talk. The issues? Not as cut and dry as they appear, actually. Is it about modesty? Covering up? Not covering up? Offending someone? What somebody may see? What somebody may not see? Efforts to normalize breastfeeding? A mother meeting her baby’s needs? Indecency? Who gets to define decency? Eating on the toilet? Being discreet? Being rude? And what is rude? Family friendly? And on and on and on. It is enough for a woman to never leave home if she chooses to breastfeed. Or at least, to never leave home without a bottle for the baby because should she need to feed that baby with her breast she could very well experience humiliation at the hands of everyone around her. And seriously, who needs that? Not a new mother, that’s for sure. Because the journey of motherhood doesn’t already redefine a woman to such an extent that her insecurities are sky high. Now let’s add this into the mix. Let’s tell her that breast is best, give her the support and education she needs to succeed at it and then scare the shit out of her so she never leaves the house and ends up depressed. If we know that breast really is best then our behavior towards a breast-feeding mother and her child should not shame or punish her.

If you listen to all the voices out there it would be easy to think that every time a woman puts her child to her breast in response to that child’s hunger TV cameras and nay-sayers immediately appear. Even those that greatly support public breastfeeding end up talking more about the negative experiences than the positive ones in an effort to help educate and defend the rights of moms and babies. Those experiences do need to be talked about, and loudly. We need to shine the light of investigation and outrage, holding companies and individuals accountable when a mother and her child are treated poorly for NIP. The only ones that should be shamed are those that attempt to imply that a NIP mother is some how doing something bad. Education is needed for breast-feeding including NIP. So I don’t want that to stop. But I do want something to start.

Let’s tell the positive stories too. The funny ones, the heart-warming, encouraging tales that let moms and families everywhere know that lifting your shirt to feed your baby shouldn’t be a nerve inducing experience. There are people that show support for breastfeeding women in public and do so in really wonderful and encouraging ways.

The Leak Boob wants to help tell these positive stories, to start a collection of the good times had NIP. Please share your positive NIP tales with us. We’d love to hear from anyone, moms, dads, family members, and the people supportive of breastfeeding. Share either in the comments below or e-mail us your story to post here. Let’s give moms some encouragement through personal experiences that no matter where they are, if they cover or not, there are people that won’t be freaked out by them doing the best for their baby. We got started here, thanks to our Facebook “leakies.”

Eliana’s Story part 3

We’re happy to share a guest post by our friend Eliana and her breastfeeding experience. The story of the breastfeeding journey she and her son went on will be shared here in parts. We have already brought you part 1 and part 2, today we conclude this portion of her story with part three. It is our hope that some time in the future, Eliana will be back to tell us more as her journey continues.

After reflux, and reactions we didn’t understand or know about at the time, my son was put on Alimentum at 2 months old. And this is when my medical issues became the big problem.

Bleeding after birth, whether vaginal or c-section, is common, and often lasts up to 6 weeks after birth. Mine never went away that early. Apparently this little piece of placenta kept open a spot in my uterine wall. So I didn’t stop bleeding at 6 weeks.

The dr gave me some medication (hormones), where if I had been nursing, I would have to pump and dump anyway. So it was a blessing that my son was on formula by this point. These hormones were supposed help stop the bleeding. I was on them for a couple weeks, but it didn’t change anything.

I still hadn’t passed the placental piece by 3 months after birth, so my OB started to explore what was going on. A biopsy revealed that I had 2 uterine infections in the 3 months after birth. It didn’t show why I was bleeding, but the infections could have been from the birth or the placental piece they were missing. My dr gave me antibiotics, just in case that was causing the bleeding, but that didn’t stop it either.

My doctor decided to perform a D&C to remove whatever was causing the problem. If the D&C didn’t fix it, I would have been at risk for a hysterectomy. Apparently, however, this scared the placenta out of me because 4 days before my surgery, I finally passed it. We still went ahead with the D&C, just to make sure but the bleeding had already basically stopped by that time.

The most difficult part for me by this point was that my milk seemed like it had dried up, also. By the time that I had my D&C, I couldn’t squeeze a drop out. They say that you shouldn’t do this, but I had to try. It was actually VERY painful to even try, and I just felt like my body had failed me. I had no recovery time from the birth, because of all the issues we had following it.

After the D&C, I began to leak like never before. Suddenly, my sheets and nightclothes were soaked. I even felt like I went through a second round of “baby blues.” Still no engorgement, but more milk then I ever made before. No one had prepared me for all this. I knew the placenta controlled a lot of things, but I had no idea that every post-partum issue would come back.

If I had been in contact with a lactation consultant, they might have suggested that I nurse again. If my OB had known what was going to happen, they might have supported me in my nursing efforts more than they did in reality. If I had known that I was going to start producing milk again, I might have pumped and dumped for those middle 2 months.

But without the support and the knowledge that I needed, my husband and I decided the best course was just to continue to feed our son formula. It is a good thing, but we only know this is hindsight. With his reactions, reflux, and my placental issues, I did the best I could without much support regarding nursing.

I honestly have no idea whether the 2 months that I was able to nurse him helped him or did nothing for his reactions. But I do know that I gave him the best that I could at the time, and since. There is nothing wrong with nursing for only 2 months; there is nothing wrong with baby-wearing to stop baby from screaming; there is nothing wrong with not figuring out cloth-diapering before baby came along; there is nothing wrong with co-sleeping or having baby sleep in a crib. When my husband and I decide to have another one, which may be awhile considering everything we have gone through this time around, I might try all this again from the get-go.

But I will not be afraid to co-sleep, or baby-wear, or maybe even cloth-diaper. I will not be afraid to ask for a consult with a lactation expert. And I will not be afraid of formula.

After all, “successful breastfeeding does NOT mean EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding.”

Photo courtesy of Idils’ on Flickr.

Eliana’s Story part 2

We’re happy to share a guest post by our friend Eliana and her breastfeeding experience. The story of the breastfeeding journey she and her son went on will be shared her in parts. Yesterday we brought you part 1, today we continue her story with part two.

My son latched like a pro, like he had nursed for years already. And I was so proud that I was the only one able to give this gift to my son. I glowed in a way that I hadn’t while pregnant. I tried to be discreet about my nursing, leaving a room at feeding time, or trying to cover up as much as possible, although my son had different plans about that. But the thrill of helping my son survive and being the only one was amazing. I had never felt a bond like that before.


I started to notice problems almost as soon as I got home from the hospital. I had heard that engorgement was REALLY painful, for some women, even worse than labor. Although my boobs grew several sizes, I never felt like I was going to pop. I read all the symptoms for it and all the solutions to help, but after a couple weeks, I still hadn’t had the feeling and so thought maybe I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t have to deal with it.

Then my son’s reflux started. He is a silent reflux-er, and it can be disturbing to hear the reflux moving up but nothing coming out. He really never spit up (doctors had trouble believing this). But from his gas and the sounds from his belly, you could tell that he was in pain. Honestly, even now at 2 years old, his normal cry typically has a slight pain side to it. He just seems like he has always been in pain in some way.

I tried changing my diet to a certain degree. I tried to remove dairy for a few days, although that did nothing. I tried to avoid gassy foods, like broccoli and sauerkraut, but bread seemed to give him gas. We used Mylicon drops and Gripe Water, but each of those only lasted so long. It didn’t stop the way he screamed, and it didn’t stop the gurgling in his belly.

Then I entered my nursing nightmare and the end of my breastfeeding dream.

I honestly was so sleep deprived by this time that I can’t tell you how exactly it began. I know that it was somewhere between 6 and 8 weeks. But one Wednesday, my son decided that he wanted to nurse every half hour around the clock. For two. Days. Straight. He would sip (maybe get an ounce), fall asleep while eating, sleep for only 30 minutes, wake up SCREAMING, sip again, and the cycle continued. FOR 2 DAYS STRAIGHT.

I finally took him to the pediatrician Friday. I was basically told that it was simple colic and would go away on it own about 3 months. Again so much for fantasy. But my “mommy gut” told me that wasn’t all there was. I KNEW there was more than just colic. Colic comes and goes, gets worse at night, isn’t helped by feedings, etc. Reflux is pain, pain you can hear from the outside, screaming for days on end. With colic, you have moments of time where you can enjoy your new little baby, the coos, the smiles, the little fingers wrapped around your finger. Reflux steals all that from you.

Everything that I had read and heard told me my poor baby had reflux, and so I BEGGED for some Zantac for my son. We started it that Friday, although with some formula (I needed to sleep), and he was a new baby by Sunday.

My husband and I decided to stick with the formula for a few weeks, and that I could try to pump as much as possible. Well, my pumping was a miserable failure; even though I tried for several weeks, I never got more than an ounce out. So I just figured it was either formula or nursing for us. That was okay since “successful breastfeeding isn’t EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding.”

Then my son had a constipation problem and we had to take him to the ER. We didn’t realize that his constipation would turn into a bigger issue as he got older. It turned out that his constipation was due to an allergy or reaction* he had, that was even present in his formula: cow’s milk. I had no idea, however, that he reacting* to so many other things as well. At this point in time, his formula was then switched to the highly expensive Similac Alimentum. We didn’t discover all of his reactions* until he was 18 months old, after a full year of random hives and ongoing bowel issues.

And this is when my medical issues became the big problem.

To be continued…

*I use the terms “allergy” or “reaction” to describe IgG-mediated immune reactions. The typical itchy eyes, runny nose, cough, throat closing reactions are caused by IgE-mediated reactions. The reactions my son has are mostly gastrointestinal reactions, like abdominal pain, reflux, constipation, and diarrhea. The testing for these reactions are not FDA-approved or even accepted by all allergy communities.