Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pumping For Breastmilk

Ah yes, time to discuss breastfeeding and pumping.  Where shall I begin??? 
(I apologize ahead of time I'm very sleepy therefore this is not one of my more colorful posts)

    Unlike quite a few of my friends I guess I will say I got lucky and Gabriel had a perfect latch as soon as he was born.  I knew aleady that I was going to breastfeed.  Two reasons; 1- It was healthiest 2- It's FREE!  How can you pass up free?  I was given the opportunity for him to room in with me so that I could freely breastfeed him, until he was taken away to the NICU that is.  Once he was in the NICU I was able to visit and feed him for the next 24 hours that I was in the hospital.  After that he would be placed on formula and bottle fed.  That did not make me happy.  But I knew he needed to eat and eat a lot to help flush his system and get his kidneys going as well.  I would breastfeed when I could during my visits.  There was one moment I was sweating it out because suddenly he didn't recognize my nipple and was screaming hungry but would not latch on.  We went at it for 5 mins before he finally latched on.
   Once I got home I would pump like a mad woman to get a dripple of colostrum.  I saved every drop of it and brought it to NICU and they would give it to him.  I was worried my milk wouldn't come in and my aunt and everyone else reassured me that I would know when it came in.  Sure enough I woke up one morning and my boobs were like lumpy bricks and hurt like hell!!  Pumping was nearly impossible at that point.  I ended up using a bag of frozen veggies to take down the swelling.  That aided in a great let down for me.  So for me, and it rings true to this day (14 weeks later) hot or cold will cause me to have a let down.  I generally go to warmth first with a heating pad when I'm really engorged and having trouble letting down.  I was up pumping every 2 hours in the beginning and it would take forever sometimes to pump an appropriate amount.  I immediately began over producing.  I was unsure how much I should be producing and after reading a number of things online it seems that there is no right number just as long as you have enough to feed your baby and he or she is thriving.  I personally over produce milk.  I can pump 1000cc-1500cc (33-50oz) in a day.  Production is on the lower side on the days that I have him latch.  I normally have him latch in the wee hours of the morning because that's easier for me and I can easily fall asleep while he nurses.  For a while I've been pumping every 3-4 hours.  There are a few random times I can go to the max of 6 hours before I'm engorged, painful, and can hardly lift my arms above my head.  
The Lansinoh bottles have my preferred nipple.  There are no latch issues after these.

Has My Supply Suffered?
  Thus far I have not had my supply suffer.  I made sure to track my production over several weeks to make sure I was producing enough throughout the day.  I'm not the healthiest eater on earth and I don't eat as many times a day as I should due to the nature of my job.  I believe that key for me has been the fact that I can easily down a gallon of water a day.  I drank water A LOT while pregnant so I just continued out of force of habit once I began pumping.  I always have a container of water while I'm pumping and make sure that I drink while pumping.   I also make sure to massage my breasts to help with let down.  I make sure to gently rub out any knots that are present due to me waiting too long to pump.  As my baby hit growth spurts and began drinking more my body automatically began producing what was needed to feed him.  Also, when he nurses, he could never drink enough to empty me so I'll allow him to nurse one side while I pump the other.  That greatly assists in a let down.  Once he's done nursing I will pump the side he was nursing on to make sure it's empty.  From my experience if I don't empty or I'm too stressed and don't have a proper let down my breasts angrily fill back up with way more milk than usual.  Me skipping pumpings, wearing tighter bras, and sleeping on my stomach only result in extra stimulation of my breasts therefore a faster production of milk. 

Uneven Supply

   In the beginning my left side out produced my right side to the moon and back. This was a bit concerning. After consulting with google I realized one side producing more was normal.  For some people it would catch up.  To remedy this I had my baby nurse more on the lower producing side, pumped when he was done, and massaged until nothing more was left.  Over a few weeks time this worked and production caught up.  My left side will always produce more, but the right side is only a few cc's off. 

How Long Do I Pump For?

   In the beginning I was doing marathon sessions because I could not master the art of let down.  I would stare at the bottles trying to will a milk let down and desperately wanting the bottles to fill up.  I finally learned that once I relax I had no problem. I started taking that time to look through my phone, play a game, look at facebook, or text a friend.  Before I knew it my bottles would be full.  I began being able to pump with a full let down for 20mins and then the unspeakable happened.  MY NIPPLES CRACKED!  OMG they cracked.  It was painful.  It was like when your lips are chapped and they slightly crack or crack in the corners of your mouth.  I was tempted to stop everything when that happened.  But after reading it seems everyone was encouraged to keep it up.  I began using more and more lanolin onintment to help out, but honestly it didn't help me.  I wanted to use vaseline but because that's not food grade I skipped out on that one.  What helped?  After pumping, for way longer than 20mins, on a very low suction setting, I soaked my nipples using shot glasses, in saline solution for 5 mins.  After that I would wipe a litttle breast milk on them and let them air dry.  It took 2 weeks, but they finally healed.  Oh, ointment wise I tossed the expensive lanolin ointment to the side and began using coconut oil instead.  currently I have a brusied nipple so I'm back to taking it easy with longer sessions. 

My Pumping Schedule

   Normally I wake up to pump at 2am or a little later.  I'm up for about an hour pumping, measuring, bagging and cleaning everything.  My baby never fails in waking up just as I'm ready to lay back down again so my husband rolls out of bed and gets him a bottle.  The nights my husband works I have to suck it up and get a bottle.  At 2am I have to fully drain myself so he takes a bottle.  I pump again at 5 or 6am.  The baby may wake up though at 4:30 and 5:30am.  If that happens I breastfeed.  At those times he eats less and allowing him to latch soothes him and he's back to sleep very quickly.  I've learned to pump in the car.  Yes, in the car.  Because of my work schedule interferes with my pumping schedule I tend to pump while drivng to work.  I get in the car, strap on my hands free bra, start up the pump, cover myself with a jacket and off I go.  I will also do this when we are out for the day or on long car rides.  I have no choice. Once I get to work I pump again around 10am, 3 or 4pm, and 7pm or on the way home at 8pm.  Once I get home I pump again at 10:30pm and I may pump at midnight or skip until 2am. 
   Pumping gets old and I'm so exhausted when I wake up in the middle of the night to pump.  I honestly managed to prop myself up in a forward leaning position and fell asleep pumping one night.  My pump shuts off after 60mins.  I woke up in a panic and was for sure I had strangled my nipples and cut of circulation after pumping that long.  It was okay though.  Bottles were seriously full, but the girls were okay. 

Pumping While Working

   Thankfully my job is very accomodating.  It's hard at times for me to break away and pump because I'm a vet tech at an emergency clinic so I can't always break away exactly on time if I'm dealing with a critical patient.  The second I can disappear my co-workers are cool and I'm off to pump.  Luckily I can take one of the computers and work on things while pumping.  Again, having something to do helps me take my mind of puming to have a let down. 

My freezer before the deep freezer
Milk Storage

   I generally keep 10 bags in the refrigerator at all times.  The average bag has 4-5oz in them.  I freeze the rest.  I produced so much our freezer was full.  We could no longer keep food in it and then the ice cubes were thrown out.  As of yesterday (11/8/14) we got a 5.2 cubic feet deep freezer just to keep my milk in.  It's great, I'm just wondering how I'm going to effeciently rotate milk.  My oldest mlik is from October 1st.  I think every week and a half we send a tub of frozen milk to daycare.  It frees up some space, but it's never enough. At this point I should buy stock in breastmilk bags. 

Which Pump Do I Use?

   I hated the pump at the hospital and thankfully brought my own with me.  I use the Lansinoh Sginature Pro pump.  It has held up quiet nicely.  I have an option of battery or plug in.  When I had to travel 8 hours with it and realized the battery portion didnt work we got an adapter for the car, I called the company and one was overnighted to my desitnation with no problem and the defective one returned at no cost to me. 

Lastly, I have Breast Implants.

   I've had implants for a very long time.  Mine are within the tissue, not under the muscle.  I had concerns about being able to produce, but my doctor told me he didn't think it would be a problem.  My implants are perfectly seated without having disrupted my mammary glands.  It doesn't seem as though breast feeding has effected them either.  They sit the same way even when they are perfectly soft and empty. 

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