I was quite anxious about breastfeeding the second time round. I was fully prepared pumping wise given my experience with my first baby. It really remained a mystery why breastfeeding never worked with my son. I never really figured it out and that was another reason why I couldn’t “give up” on the breastfeeding. It made everyone’s life more difficult though and the additional stress wasn’t good on my supply. It took me a lot of effort to get it back up. On top, I live in Europe and pumping is not really common here. You do it to accompany breastfeeding and improve your supply but not instead of breast feeding. I didn’t even know that it was possible to exclusively pump!
Well let me tell you breastfeeding is difficult no matter what. It does hurt at the beginning even if you are psychologically prepared, but you can still look past the pain. It was difficult to get started and I was even more anxious than the first time because I wanted it so badly to work. After a rocky start we did manage to get it to work but I was just never sure if my daughter was really getting enough milk. She was generally fussy at the breast and that made me more anxious but she was gaining weight rapidly which was a good sign.
What made me want to stop a few times with the whole breast feeding was my daughter’s fussiness and the times where I felt I had no milk left. Yes those were the growth spurts that seemed to last for far too many days. On top she refused to take the bottle for some time so I couldn’t even get to pump and feed her to see how much she was drinking. I was also worried about was that I don’t have enough milk for her. What I remembered though was that the more milk you extract, the more milk is produced, so every time she cried and I wasn’t sure if she was hungry or tired, I just put her on the breast. If she didn’t want any, she would just latch off and cry. Sometimes she would suck just until my milk came in and then come off and cry. I HATED that!!!! but I tried to see the good side. It was at least good for my supply. In the end once we reached the 12 week mark everything got easier and breast feeding became a breeze. The first three months are really difficult. Your baby is small, your milk supply and body are still adjusting, you are constantly tired and your hormones are shooting up and down. My advice: No matter if you are breast feeding or pumping, just try to get past this benchmark before you throw in the towel.
So breastfeeding did not work for me first time round no matter what I did or tried. At some point I gave up and resorted to full time pumping which was hell as any mother who has exclusively pumped knows, but it worked. Of course to get my supply up, it required constant pumping, tears and driving my dh crazy. Looking back I am proud of myself for actually going through with the pumping.
Now my second child is due in two weeks and the question I keep asking myself is will I be able to breastfeed this time round? It makes me a bit nervous because I never really found out the reason why my son couldn’t latch on properly. Was it because of his tongue? Was it my nipple shape and size? Was it both?
I did some research to see if other moms were able to breastfeed their second child. Some were and some weren’t. But at least the possibility is there. So now what I tell myself is this time round I
- feel more confident as a mother
- will not go hysterical (hopefully) if breastfeeding becomes a struggle
- will take it easier in general and (again hopefully) will not drive my dh too crazy by obsessing constantly about my milk supply
I will give it all it takes and let’s see what will be……
Photo credit: Courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn / freedigitalphotos.net
Pump and dump means you first express your breast milk and then dispose of it by dumping it down the drain. You might need to do this if on special medication or have consumed alcohol.
Pumping while on medication
If you get sick and need medication your doctor might advise you to stop breast feeding while taking it. In the older days doctors were overcautious or had a lack of information so they generally advised mothers to stop breastfeeding or expressing. Nowadays generally all doctors value the benefits of breast milk and aren’t too quick to advise mothers to take medications which negatively impacts their milk supply.
In case your doctor does give you medication with which you are not to breastfeed or express, ask if there is an alternate medicine that can be safe for your baby. It’s also recommended to check with a lactation consultant for the impact of the medication on the breast milk and if at all possible to take your dose after pumping. That way you don’t have to dump all the pumped milk, and would be able to use for example the morning pump before your medication and your evening pump before your next dose. That of course depends on your doctor/lactation consultant and the impact of the medication on your milk, so do check with them.
Now in case you don’t have a choice and do need to take a medication where you are advised not to breastfeed, then you should pump and dump your milk. Continuing to pump ensures that you keep up your supply. Your supply will probably drop a bit while you’re sick or on medication but do not worry. Just continue pumping like you would before and your supply will
Pumping and alcohol consumption
Apart from taking medication the other time to pump and dump is when you have been drinking alcohol. The general rule most mothers go by is that if you don’t feel tipsy anymore then it’s generally safe to feed your baby. Alcohol goes in and out of your milk so if you do feel ok then your body has eliminated the alcohol and it should be fine for your baby. Don’t think that drinking more water will reduce the alcohol in your milk. The only “technique” is time. Depending on how much alcohol you consume you need a certain amount of time for your body to eliminate the alcohol.
If you are in doubt then it’s ok to dump. Remember that alcohol in pumped milk is permanent – i.e. it’s not going to dissolve or evaporate. It’s always painful to dump your milk but it’s better to give your baby formula than milk that contains alcohol.
A hands-free pumping bra frees up your hands to do many things you love, like eat, apply your make up, read, play with your baby etc. but unfortunately also for things you don’t love as much such as work, pay your bills online, wash the dishes and the list goes on.
Research shows however, that if you put your hands to proper use you can notably increase your milk supply.
Simply because the more milk you remove from your breast, the more milk is produced. Neither a breastfed baby nor a pump can efficiently empty your breast, although the baby can certainly do a better job than the pump. The Stanford University Website provides a great video that actually shows you how you can use your hands while expressing milk using a double pump. The information in this video if put to practice, can significantly improve your supply and I highly recommend you watch it.
(Note that this material is put together by Jane Morton, MD and produced for educational purposes only)
The video proves that the pump alone extracts significantly less milk than if you were to combine pumping with breast massaging and hand expressions.
The results are shown in the above graph. Note that all the mothers participating in the research above pumped the same number of times and the same length of time each day.
The results confirm that:
- Mothers who solely relied on the suction of the pump extracted substantially less milk than those who massaged their breasts while pumping. Their supply also declined slowly as the weeks went by (black line)
- Mothers who used their hands to massage their breasts while expressing had a significant gain in milk supply. This supply continued to grow as they kept pumping and using their hands to massage their breasts (yellow line)
- The red line exhibits the supply of mothers who used the pump while massaging their breasts as will as hand expressing the remaining milk after their pumping sessions ended. They did the hand expressing only for the first three days after their milk came in, thus what differentiates these mothers from those of the yellow line is only these first three days of additional hand expressions. You can see the impact the few days of manual expressions had in their long-term milk supply which proves how important those first days are in building your long-term supply.
Are you wondering if your pumps’ performance has deteriorated? Has your pump lost its original suction or you just don’t feel as empty as before?
Caring for your pump is essential especially for exclusive pumping mothers. Just as the suckling of a baby determines a mother’s milk supply, the suction and the performance of your pump is crucial in determining and maintaining your supply.
Here’s how you can preserve your Medela PISA for best performance:
Check the membranes on your PISA
The membranes wear out depending on extent of usage. For some they need to be changed more regularly than others.
For exclusive pumping mothers I would recommend to change them every two to three months. With usage they also become thinner which negatively impacts your pumps performance.
To determine if it’s time for your membranes to be changed check them first for any wears and tears. If they seem fine, compare their thickness to your extra set or back up membranes. If they have thinned use your extra membrane set to pump next time round and see if you feel a difference. If yes, then it’s time to throw out the old set.
Inspect your PISA tubing for condensation
After each pumping session, quickly inspect the tubing. If you do see any condensation you can do any of the following:
- Continue to run the pump with the tubing attached but unplugged from your breastshield connectors for an additional minute or so until the condensation disappears. (You can run the pump while you go to store away your milk)
- Pour a small amount of Rubbing Alcohol in the tubing to dry
- Use a can of compressed air (the ones typically used to clean keyboards) to blow out any moisture
Remove mold/milk from your PISA tubing
If milk gets into tubing, best is to insert it in hot soapy water and then rinse with cold water. If mold has formed in the tubes and doesn’t seem to get out with hot water, boil some water in a pot and throw the tubing in the pot. This should rinse out the mold.
Make sure the tubes are dry before pumping again. Either hang them to air-dry or if you are compressed for time attach the tubes to your pump and run it for two minutes or so until they have dried off. Rubbing alcohol gives you even a faster result. Just pour a small amount through the tubing to dry.
To avoid mold from forming in the first place it’s best to rinse the tubing in hot or boiling water once every week.
Every baby is different. The general advice is that there is no need to avoid any food and that gas in babies are more likely not to be related to your food. In my case and in the cases of other mothers I have talked with, there seemed to be a high correlation between food consumed and gas in baby.
At the beginning, I just ate everything without thinking and as my son seemed to be a gassy baby anyhow, I didn’t think that avoiding any food could actually make it better. It was also difficult to track what I had eaten two or three days ago as I was making more milk than my little one needed so I had the fridge stacked up. I’d noticed that there were good days when he didn’t have as much gas and then really gassy days, as well as some days where he had a red rash and even some bleeding in his stool.
How do you know if pumping is for you. Here are a list of reasons why you would want to look into pumping:
1. You have problems breastfeeding. Baby has latch on issues that don’t seem to be resolved. Baby not extracting enough milk
2. You can breastfeed, but you want to increase your milk supply or have additional milk in the freezer for when you like to go out, or you’d like to express so your husband can give the bottle
1. Pump at least 7 times a day.
Best would be if you can get somewhere around 9 pumps in the first days. In my case I had started out with 7 pumps and got just a little milk out. I then increased to 10 times for a few days and then cut back to 9 pumps for about two weeks. This seemed to make a big difference in my milk supply.
2. Make sure you have a good pump and all necessary accessories.
Check your horn size. Most women need larger shields so make sure your shield is the right size for you. A good site that provides you with all your pump accessories is pumpingpals.com. They also offer a nipple measuring tool that helps you decide whether or not you need to go for a larger horn. Also make sure that you have a good suction with your pump. Some pumps when utilized so much by exclusive pumping mothers tend to loose the suction they had at the beginning. To get your suction back you need to change the membranes. Buy additional membranes in advance. If you are not sure if your pump is loosing suction just test with the new membranes. You will probably need them anyhow so this is a good investment.
The general recommendation that seems to work for most women is that for the first 12 weeks to pump around 8 to 12 times a day. The length of each session should be around 15 minutes or 5 minutes past your last let-down, whichever is the longest. In order to get your 8-12 sessions in one day, that means that you will pump each 2 or 3 hours in 24 hours. You can have closer pumping times during the day and longer stretches during the night.
These guidelines will help you increase your milk supply. By pumping so often what you end up doing is sending a signal to your body to produce more milk. Every time you empty your breasts, they start producing again.
The first 12 weeks are important as it is believed that during this time your supply is more easily influenced as your Prolactin levels (hormone primarily associated with lactation) are highest.
Best would be to stick to schedule and space your pumps evenly. However with a tiny demanding baby this is easier said than done. If you see yourself struggling and stressing to stick to schedule then make your pumps flexible. Remember being stressed out about your pumping will probably have a negative impact on your milk supply so if you find yourself stressed out just create for yourself a flexible pumping schedule.
Try to get at least 8 pumps in 24 hours. If you for example start the day pumping every three hours, then try to do every two hours as it gets later in the day. Just track the time you pump and then add two to three hours to that for your next pump. If it helps you, write a reminder and post it up somewhere within sight.
If you are alone with your little one and want to make sure that you can have an undisturbed pumping session you can try some of the following:
1. Invest in a baby swing.
This really seems to help distract your little one while you pump