Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How I Breastfed For A Year

I hate that there always has to be disclaimers with this subject, but this is NOT a "Breast Is Best"/put myself on a pedestal post.  I saw a post on Instagram that said something like, "Breast is great, FED is best!"  Love!  This is a legit, "Oh, breast feeding is working for you, too?  Great!  Here are some things that helped me stick with it" since I have received quite a few questions.  I was once that person who texted my friends asking for tips, too!  And this is just what worked for me.  Every body is different, situations are different, lifestyles are different, and I am not a health care expert, just tips from mom to mom.  AND FORMULA IS AMAZING AND JUST FINE, TOO!!!!  Every mom is amazing with whatever you choose!  Enough disclaimers?  Did I miss anything? :)  

I see ALL the time people posting on mom posts/blogs saying, "my supply is going away!  Help!" For me, when my supply would dip I could almost always turn it around in a few weeks with changes.  So here are some ways I made it to a year!

1.  Pump longer and more often!  I always wanted a miracle cure, miracle pill, miracle lactation cookie but there wasn't one for me.  The SIL always told me this advice - pump longer and more often.  Ugh!  It's like someone telling you to cut sugar to lose weight.  Not what you want to hear!  But it works.  I ended up setting a timer for every single time I pumped because I am someone who has zero patience and is always on the go, so I had to!  My "magic number" of times/amounts to pump was 5x a day on workdays (plus breastfeeding 2+ times a day), then on weekends only breastfeeding but pumping morning and night.  But remember, everyone's number is different (good article here).  And my timer was set for 15 minutes minimum each time.  Even when nothing is coming out, it is telling your body it needs to make more milk.  Also, that last nighttime pump to clean out the cans (haha) really helped my supply and was so necessary, and to get a little more milk for his bottles.  I never had a good freezer stash (maybe 15 bags at the peak?) so I was always a little nervous about having enough.

A typical workday looked like this:

5:45AM Breastfeed
6AM Pump
9AM Pump
12PM feed at daycare (or past 6 months old I would pump at work)
3:30PM Pump
6PM Breastfeed
8PM Breastfeed before bed
9PM Pump before bed

2.  Supportive workplace!  This is a tough one because it is something you can't control.  To have a supportive workplace is an absolute must!  I am so lucky that my boss was super pro breastfeeding and supported me in whatever I needed to do to maintain supply and do what I needed at work. I can't even imagine having a boss that would be passive aggressive or not understand how much it helps a mom to breast feed.  The pressures to stop are coming from every direction so to have SUPPORT from work is invaluable!!  Thank you boss! :)

3.  Change those parts!  One time I was certain that I was just done for and wouldn't be able to keep up and was THISCLOSE to throwing the towel in.  The SIL (always the SIL) said "when did you change your tubing  and membranes?"  Ummmm...never?  I changed these and literally within a few days had newly engorged boobs because it got SO much more out.  You have to remove all the milk for your body to produce more, so that was a miracle cure for me!  From then on, I kept an extra set in the bag at all times so I wouldn't have to wait for shipping or find in a store when it was too late. Next time I might change the membranes every few weeks even!  They are so cheap and control the suction, so it can't hurt!

4.  Supportive hubs!  This one goes without saying, if your partner isn't on board with breastfeeding, you are screwed!  Ha!  Not screwed, but your uphill battle will definitely be steeper!  Nate was always so pro-breast milk for the benefits but also because it is free and formula is pricey!  I told him since I made it to a year and we never had to buy formula I want a prize for all the money we saved. :)  Still waiting...haha!

Since I was spending over an hour a day pumping and more than that breastfeeding, Nate's duty was to always wash and sanitize the bottles and parts.  We are dumb, and only had one set of Bradley's daycare bottles, so for kid #2 we will for sure get a second set.  But Nate never complained and only missed doing it a few times (and would hear about it in the morning from me!  Yikes!).  Such a good hubs!

5.  Get the Goods!  Like anything in life, buying some crap will help you.  :)  The Simple Wishes bra is a beyond must for any working/pumping mom!  You need to be hands free so you can catch up on your social media feeds! :)  Since we washed and sanitized every day, the Medela Micro Steam bags were imperative (for Nate more than me since he was washing them!).  And like I mentioned above, extra parts to replace really do help get more out!

6.  Breast feed when possible!  This also is something that most people can't control, but it was AMAZING to have Bradley's daycare close to my work, so from about 12 weeks to 6 months old I went every day over lunch to feed him at the daycare.  There is for sure something scientific with your cans (I am so unprofessional) getting cleaned out by a baby's amazing suction versus a machine.  Once he was more mobile, it was much harder to get him to breastfeed when it was convenient for me, so extra pumping would happen on those times.  But when possible, have your baby go straight to the source!

When Bradley lost some of the interest in breastfeeding as he got a little older and we were at home without Nate, I would have to get his lunch/snack/dinner/toys ready and strap him in the high chair with multiple options and pump right next to him.  I would usually be sweating by the end of each of these times because he wouldn't want to sit still through the full timer and I would be on full entertainment mode.  Again, where the hands free bra is a must!

Hopefully one of these tips will help if you are needing some tips as well!  When in doubt, meet with a lactation consultant!  And as long as your baby is getting fed with something, you are doing just fine. :)

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  1. Sitting here pumping for my two week old as I read this (less than a half oz every time I pump!!!) but super helful to read!

    1. Aww go mama! It isn't easy but doable!! You got this!!

  2. Pumping at my desk while I read. In two weeks, I will have made it to a year!! YAY!! My freezer stash is NUTS because when I was on maternity leave I pumped for five minutes after *most* feedings because I was so concerned about supply when I returned to work. Using many of these tips, I haven't needed the extra so I have donated most to a mom who couldn't nurse. I'm just so thrilled I've been able to make it this long! Congrats to you!

    1. You are so close!! And that is amazing you were able to donate! Next time I am starting pumping MUCH earlier!! :)