Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pump it.

I must admit that the title of this post makes me think of that Black Eyed Peas song.

But, instead, it's about breastfeeding (or lack thereof). Warning, long long post ahead, written by a tired mom.

James won't nurse.

I've met with several lactation consultants, and he won't nurse. He got in the habit when I was pregnant of sucking on the back of his hand. Even our ultrasound at 20 weeks showed the little guy with his hands by his mouth. And in the 36-week ultrasound, his face was completely hidden by hands. The habit ruined his latch. He'll latch for a few seconds, get frustrated, and come off. Again. And again. And again. But a bottle of pumped milk? Fantastic Mom!

At first I was relieved to have a way to feed him. The first few days in the hospital were rough, hand expressing every.single.drop of colostrum into a thimble and feeding it to him with a spoon. Then trying to express as much milk/colostrum as possible until I was sore and frustrated and sleepless. Luckily, our hospital has donor milk, so I was able to feed him. But the anxiety leading up to our hospital release was great. I was being released from the hospital without a way to feed my baby besides formula? And, my milk hadn't yet come in.


Luckily, my milk came in 24 hours after we left the hospital. It wasn't enough though, and we had to supplement with some formula. Not too much, but some.

Once my milk came in, I started focusing on how I was feeding him. I remember crying to my husband that I didn't feel worse about not nursing. Oy, postpartum hormones.

But we had tried SO many things. Nipple shields. James peeled them off, so I taped them on, making me more sore. The nipple shields had tubing to a syringe of milk. I had to snake the tubing into the shield (while somehow maintaining suction) and then juggle a newborn baby, a syringe, a kinda suctioned covered breast and milk, and the loss of my modesty. Oh, and a baby that didn't want anything to do with the contraption but it occasionally worked, so I kept going anyway. Then after the baby would eat, I had to pump, at first to encourage milk to come in, and then after to catch anythign that happened to come out.

The nipple shield contraption was not maintainable. With him eating every 1-3 hours (between start of the last feeding and start of the next feeding) and the process taking 30-60 minutes, it just couldn't be maintained. So, we switched to finger feeding. We'd trained him to suck on a finger after a lot of work on day 1 and 2. So we took the tubing and syringe and had him suck on a finger with the tubing instead. But after a few days of that, we realized we might as well switch to a bottle. So we did.  The lactation consultants said it wouldn't harm his latch attempts to do bottle feeding, so we did.

But this has committed me to pumping. And being alone with him during the day is really difficult. I swear, he has a sixth sense and can start fussing as soon as I start pumping. He just KNOWS. I try to get 6-8 pumping sessions in a day. I have a hands-free bra so I can massage and pump both simultaneously. I need a window of 15 minutes for pumping, 5 minutes for set-up, and 5 minutes for take-down. I have a portable pump, which is nice too.

But, I can't comfort James that well with the pump on. And the pump dribbles stuff out when I bend over. And it constantly needs cleaning. And I still get stuff on me (it's not like the pump makes it a lot cleaner a process).

What's worst: I can't hold my baby while trying to pump to feed my baby.

And so, I dread pumping. I have to do it, but I dread it. I normally don't dread James crying, but if I'm pumping and he starts up, my heart SINKS. And then I have to stop pumping if I can't comfort him, but of course my milk doesn't stop coming in, so then I have milk all over (and attempts to soak it up via pads), and inevitably I can't shower right away, so I end up smelling like old milk.

It's frustrating. In a weird way, it makes me WANT to go back to work because most of my pumping sessions will be scheduled without interruption. Of course (enter the postpartum hormones) this makes me feel like a bad mother.

And, since pumping doesn't encourage milk production as much as nursing, I'm on a gabillion supplements from the lactation consultant, tea, and even lactation cookies (which do not help my pregnancy pounds come off, which leads to further emotions, sigh).

All this for this face:

For that face, I'd do anything. 

But I wish it wasn't this hard. There's a lot of other hard stuff about newborn-ness... Happily, James is an easygoing kiddo in all other aspects. Rare (knock on wood) are crying spells that last longer than a minute or so. I just wish that providing food for him wasn't quite so challenging or such a rollercoaster. 


  1. Oh Jessika, I'm sending empathetic mama vibes your way. I didn't have quite the same trouble, but we struggled with a shallow latch because my daughter was two weeks early, and those dang nipple shields for six weeks. I hate those things with a passion. I had to pump as well, and I swear babies know exactly when you hook that thing up!

    Fingers crossed that things get a little easier, and James looks adorable and content, so you're doing it right :)

  2. Megan-- thank you for this! I know I'm not alone in this, and it's nice to have the empathetic mama vibes. He's worth every ounce of effort, but it doesn't mean it's easy or not frustrating!