Jared and I did not take a single parenting class when I was pregnant with Jude. I knew my trusty friends, Youtube and Google, could help me if needed. When researching pregnancy and childbirth, I failed when it came to reading about breast feeding. How hard can it really be? I have boobs, the boobs will fill with milk, and then the baby will drink the milk. Easy peasy.
I was wrong. Breastfeeding was and still is challenging!
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that breastfeeding, with its many known health benefits for infants, children, and mothers, is a key strategy to improve public health. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding alongside introduction of complementary foods for at least 1 year.
The CDC and AAP failed to mention that if you want to exclusively give breast milk to your baby, you need to bust your ass each day. You may even do everything you can to breast feed and something still just doesn’t work! My personal experience is that providing your baby with breast milk is extremely taxing, exhausting, and rewarding.
1,000 ounces in 3 months
I knew I would be going back to work when Jude was 3 months old. I also knew that I wanted to give him breast milk until his first birthday. Thanks to my breast pump, I was able to pump and store over 1,000 ounces before going back to work. Here is how I did it:
After reading the reviews on amazon, I ordered Fenugreek Seed and Blessed Thistle. Although some claim they didn’t see a difference in milk production, I personally did. For the low price of these supplements, I thought it was worth a try!
As a baby gift, my mom got us the Medela Freestyle Hands-Free Double Electric Breast Pump. I could have found a cheaper option that would be covered by insurance, but I was set on having a pump that was battery operated and hands-free, so I could walk around the house while pumping. The freestyle allowed me to pump everywhere. The motor is so little that it could easily fit in the diaper bag. I once even pumped while at the movie theater!
If you have ever washed a breast milk bottle, you know that the fatty liquid can leave residue inside the bottle. Kiinde offers an easy alternative with its disposable bottles. I was able to pump directly into the storage bag with the Kiinde system. If Jude needed a bottle when I wasn’t around, Jared could easily pop a nipple onto the storage bag. The one downfall of this system is that the bags are quite large. You still have to use a 6-ounce bag even if you only produce an ounce of milk.
4. Pump Strap
As I said before, I pumped EVERYWHERE. We live about 20 minutes out of town so I always used that time to pump. The Pump Strap allowed me to be hands-free, so I could pump and drive at the same time. I tried many different support devices including the Medela and Hogfish but this was my favorite. I loved that I could keep my coat on while pumping during the cold winter months.
I purchased doubles of many items and sometimes even triple! I believe we have two car chargers and at least four wall chargers for my pump. I know we have at least triple of every pump piece (besides the motor). I would justify paying for all of these duplicates by calculating how much money breastfeeding was saving our family because we didn’t have to buy formula.
In order to reach 1,000 ounces before returning to work, I had to spend a lot of time pumping. I began pumping when Jude was just a few hours old. After a few weeks of building up my supply, in a thirty-minute pumping session, I could usually produce 10 ounces. In addition to pumping, I was also breastfeeding as much as possible. I once calculated that with breastfeeding and pumping, I was getting milked for at least 8 hours each day. This was a typical day for us:
7:00 am: breastfeed
7:30 am: pump
8:00 am: finish
11:00 am: finish
1:00 pm: breastfeed
1:30 pm: pump
2:00 am: finish
4:00 pm: breastfeed
4:30 pm: pump
5:00 pm: finish
7:00 pm: breastfeed
7:30 pm: pump
8:00 pm: finish
10:00 pm: breastfeed
10:30 pm: pump
11:00 pm: finish
1:30 am: SKIP PUMPING
4:00 am: breastfeed
4:30 am: pump
5:00 am: finish
7. Support System
I told EVERYONE I was a “pumping mom”. The truth is, in order to pump, I needed some extra help! My parents would order dinner for me when I was in the car pumping outside the restaurant. My husband would wash the pump parts each night. My sister-in-law was always answering the crazy questions I had. My friends cheered me on as I tested my breastmilk for alcohol after girls night. I had so many people that knew my goal and encouraged me. I know I wouldn’t have reached my goal without their support.