Posts Tagged ‘Breastfeeding Support’

Guest Post: Life as an Exclusively Pumping Mom

Today’s blog post comes from Rachel at The Purposeful Wife. Rachel blogs on purposeful Christian womanhood, homemaking, marriage, and parenthood to a beautiful baby girl. Enjoy!

Maybe some women choose exclusive pumping as a means of feeding their baby.

For the most part, however, it seems that exclusive pumping is a fall back plan.

At least it was in my case.

My first choice has always been breastfeeding. I knew that it was good for both baby and me. My mom did it, my friends did it, why wouldn’t I do it?

Because my daughter came at only 27 weeks gestation, weighing just under two pounds. Oral feeds were not an option, and wouldn’t be for weeks. Breast milk was no longer an issue of preference, but of life and death.

The breast pump became my new best friend. I pumped- boy, did I pump! Round the clock, every two hours during the day, taking only a five hour break to sleep at night. I fretted and I prayed and I pumped, rejoicing as 2 ml a pump turned into 2 oz. a pump, then 4 oz.

Precious Colostrum, Warming in Baby’s Isolette

It was not the introduction to breastfeeding that I had dreamed about or planned, but I was thankful for this means of providing good food for my baby.

My daughter became stable, and once again my goal turned to breastfeeding. We began daily kangaroo care as soon as the doctors gave the go ahead. I held her against my chest for hours every day, turning her mouth towards my breast.

Unfortunately not much breastfeeding occurred. Lots of other good things were happening- my baby was growing, she loved kangaroo care, she was alert and thriving. Direct breastfeeding just wasn’t one of them.

After six weeks in the NICU, the doctors said she was ready to begin oral feeding. I continued to attempt breastfeeding during our kangaroo times. Sometimes she would suck and doze off, but mostly the nipple shield I needed to wear was just too big and awkward for her tiny mouth.

The doctors explained to me that although I was welcome to try exclusive breastfeeding, bottle feeding was the fast track to getting my baby home.

After seven weeks, I was tired. Tired of running around on empty. Tired of living in a hospital room. Tired of leaving my baby every night. Emotionally, physically, and mentally, tired.

So we gave her the bottle. I still worked with lactation consultants and attempted breast feeding, but almost all of her nutrition was breast milk via bottle. After a two month NICU stay, our baby came home. Life was bliss!

Our Little Girl, Bottle Feeding in the NICU

For about a month I continued my breastfeeding attempts. Because of my extensive pump use, even with a proper latch it was often painful. I would set her up to eat, a few minutes later she would doze off, and I would still have to feed her a bottle and pump. After weeks of this exhausting routine and zero progress, I quit.

I continued to pump and give her all the breast milk I could. Two weeks after her first birthday, I performed my last pump. Today my little girl drinks formula.

Pumping was draining. I felt literally chained to my pump- I couldn’t leave my house for longer than three hours. It was the first thing I did every morning, and the last thing I did every night. I spent on average six hours a day pumping and washing bottles and pump parts (35 hours a week- almost a full-time job!). My boobs hurt and I was spent.

When I told women about my plight, oftentimes they remarked on the probability of improper latch, lack of know-how, or lack of trying. This was indescribably frustrating- did they realize how many hours I’d spent attempting to breastfeed? That I’d worked with three different lactation consultants on numerous occasions? That I’d read the same books they had? That my situation had been extremely trying and unorthodox?

If you’ve found yourself in the same position, please know that you are not alone. The more I’ve met mothers of preemies, the more I realize there are many exclusive pumpers out there. We’ve been there, done that. We know the pain, the exhaustion, the frustration, the “if onlys…”. You are not alone.

If you were blessed with the ability to breastfeed your baby, that is wonderful! I sincerely hope to have this experience some day. Thank God, and be happy. When you run into a woman stuck in the boat of exclusive pumping, please be gracious and understanding. Assume that she gave it her best shot, commend her for her intense commitment to giving her best to her baby, and let her know that she is not alone.

Exclusive pumping is grueling. It is a serious commitment. It requires discipline, a lot of self-denial, and being spent for the welfare of your child. It is not the easy road, and it is very rarely a choice.

Our Healthy Peanut, One Year Later

The exclusively pumping mother needs all of the encouragement and support that can be given. Here’s to you, pumping mom!


Resources for Breastfeeding Information and Support

My last post was about the bad breastfeeding advice women so often receive from health care providers, including lactation consultants that work with new mothers in the hospital regularly. The comments I received made me realize that there is, unfortunately, a lack of understanding of the basics of breastfeeding in many moms, and a wide lack of proper support for these new mothers. Without gaining knowledge themselves, or receiving help from those who do have it, it is very difficult for moms to have successful breastfeeding experiences.

Thanks to Stork Stories Blog , Melissa from Luna Lactation, and Jo Martin at I Want to Breastfeed, I’ve been put on to a plethora of resources for breastfeeding mothers. I want to share some of these resources in order to help mothers who want to breastfeed their babies but may not have the proper support to do so successfully. It’s not much, but any little step to spread accurate information and help find local support is a step in the right direction for moms who want to breastfeed.

The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners has released a video that addresses some of the problems we have discussed. We need qualified  lactation consulants, spread of evidence-based information to mothers who wish to breastfeed, and proper support for mothers to work through breastfeeding challenges and continue breastfeeding for longer periods of time. This is a great short video on these topics.

Best for Babes is a great sight for promoting breastfeeding and finding resources to do so succesfully. It also helps moms avoid the “booby traps” of breastfeeding!

KellyMom is a great site that’s full of articles that address commonly asked questions about breastfeeding, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding/tandem nursing, what is and isn’t safe when breastfeeding, and herbs when breastfeeding. It also has tons of parenting articles covering a variety of topics and forums to discuss breastfeeding and parenting issues with other moms.

Dr. Jack Newman’s website offers lots of breastfeeding help, including informative and clear breastfeeding videos. Videos really helped me out in those early days (and nights) of figuring out how to get my son to latch and nurse effectively.

Finally, we certainly can’t forget La Leche League International as a great place to find local support and tons of  breastfeeding resources for mothers and providers, including publications, links, breastfeeding education, and answers to various nursing questions (including breastfeeding and the law).

This is just a small start, but I hope to keep adding breastfeeding websites to my resource page as I go. It’s a tiny step to improving the information mothers get on breastfeeding. Please feel free to add other resources that you know of in the comment section.