Thursday, April 23, 2015

being an exclusively pumping mom: part one

As Oliver comes up on five months old, I'm coming up on four months of exclusively pumping.  It's been a frustrating journey getting to this point, but I'm so happy that Ollie is primarily breastfed with a few supplemental formula bottles every once in a while.

Before Oliver was born, breastfeeding was the thing I was most nervous about.  I would wake up from a vivid pregnancy dream about our newborn baby starving because my body wouldn't make enough milk.  Trevor laughed at these dreams and our teacher in birthing class told us that as long as you fed your baby when they were hungry, your body would take care of the rest.  I was still nervous, but tried to relax.

Immediately after Oliver was born, we did skin-to-skin and got a bunch of cuddles in.  Before we even left the labor and delivery room, my nurse looked at me and asked, "Do you want to try and nurse him right now?"  "Yes!" I replied.  I figured the more practice we could get, the better.  He latched right away.  Through the rest of our stay in the hospital, Ollie latched like a champ and was nicknamed "barracuda" by the nurses.  Even so, I was still nervous as we headed home. 

However easy and quick my pregnancy and labor had been, I felt it was the opposite for breastfeeding. Because of his "barracuda" latch and suck, breastfeeding became uncomfortable at best.  I was told that if feeding was painful, unlatch your baby and try again.  I remember looking at Trevor through tears one night and saying "I can only unlatch him so many times before I give up and just let him eat." It got frustrating very quickly to keep un-latching and re-latching when a hungry baby was screaming.  

Due to latch issues, I developed a cracked nipple.  I decided to pump milk on that side and nurse on the other.  I took the milk I pumped and put it in the freezer, hoping to build a bit of a stash for when I went back to work.  

One night, Oliver latched on, took a few sucks and then started screaming while he was still latched.  This had been happening for a few days.  I was nervous that he had some type of allergy or aversion to something I ate.  Trevor suggested giving him a bottle of the pumped milk since he probably wasn't eating too much while he was screaming, not to mention how stressed and disheartened I was feeling.  We put the bottle in Ollie's mouth and he sucked down the entire thing.  No screaming a few sucks in, no fussing and fighting.  He drank the entire bottle without a problem.  That night, I decided to switch over to exclusively pumping.  Since I had already been pumping on one side, it wasn't too hard of a transition.  There was definitely a learning curve to exclusively pumping (which I'll talk about later) and I miss the sweet cuddles that come along with nursing, but exclusively pumping saved our breastfeeding relationship.