How I Decided to Exclusively Pump

breastmilk freezer brick

When I was pregnant with Kaylee Mae, I thought breastfeeding her would be so much easier than with Jackson because I planned on having her breastfeed right away.  Jackson was taken away right away and I couldn’t nurse him for 24 hours due to fluid in his lungs and breathing issues.

If you read my last post about Kaylee Mae’s birth, you’ll know she was given to me right away. She was in perfect health and super awake and aware.  She was rooting around within an hour of being born but she wouldn’t latch for more than a few seconds.

I continued trying throughout the morning when she wasn’t sleeping and when the nurse checked and asked if she had successfully latched, I had to tell her no.  🙁

With Jackson I had to use a nipple shield so I had brought one with me just in case I needed it with Kaylee Mae.  I felt like the nurses disapproved of me using the nipple shield but she latched and stayed on for a while.

I felt good that she latched – even if it was with a nipple shield. With Jackson, I had low milk supply and he had weight gain issues so when I had time, like when Kaylee Mae was sleeping or being held by someone else, I pumped to start a stash of breastmilk.

She was on me all the time – around the clock… it was so exhausting.  She wouldn’t fall asleep at night unless she was on me but when I would give her a bottle of expressed breast milk, she would conk right out.  That was my first clue that she wasn’t getting enough from me.

At our 2 day check-up at the birth center, I said I had a lot of pain from breastfeeding and the nurse/lactation specialist checked Kaylee Mae’s tongue and saw it was shaped like a heart and not round.  She drew a picture on the table paper that looked like a lopsided hill and asked if that was what my nipple looked like after nursing.  Yep!

She said she couldn’t diagnose a tongue tie but to mention it to the pediatrician. Which we did and her pediatrician confirmed she has a tongue tie and not the kind that can just be snipped and go.  Her tongue tie was short and thick and she would have had to be put under to fix it.  We just weren’t willing to do that so it was either painful nursing, or formula – at least those were the only options I felt like I had a at the time.

I don’t remember who I was talking to but I made the comment – maybe I should just pump and give that in a bottle all the time.  Well, at the time I made the comment I wasn’t 100% into the idea but then at my 6 week follow up, I had thrush or yeast – or whatever and Kaylee Mae had thrush on her tongue.

Nursing was still crazy painful and at Kaylee Mae’s 1 month appointment, the pediatrician said she wasn’t gaining like she should. That was it for me… I started pumping exclusively and realized I was barely making any milk.

Day 1 of pumping, I pumped 12 ounces. Not enough for my 6 week old baby to gain weight like she should have. I know I hear all the time, babies can empty a breast much more efficiently than a pump. Well, not for all babies.  Not my baby.  With her tongue tie, she was using different muscles in her mouth to suck and she couldn’t extend her tongue far enough to transfer milk well.

I would nurse her and then pump and I would get about the same amount when I didn’t nurse her.

So… I started pumping every 2 hours or every time she would take a bottle.  At first, I had to supplement with formula.  Like I said, I was only making 12 ounces.  I tried all the things that are supposed to help with increasing milk supply – oatmeal, oatmeal bars, flax seed, brewer’s yeast, fenugreek, blessed thistle, goat’s rue, moringa, and drinking TONS or gatorade and water.

While other moms had awesome success stories taking herbs and such, my body just didn’t respond to the stuff.  The only thing that worked for me was frequent pumping and staying hydrated.  I had to make myself pump 9-10 times a day and I started seeing my numbers increase.

It took about a month but I finally didn’t need to supplement anymore! I was consistently pumping 27-30 oz a day and was able to freeze a 4-6 oz bag every now and then. There are days when I make a bit less due to missing a pump or not drinking enough water but I’ve only had to give formula like once every few days and I don’t beat myself up over giving her formula every now and then.

I have my moments where I think I want to give up but then I think I can make it 2 more weeks or until she starts solids.  I can reach my little goals.  If I think about 12 months pumping I want to quit like now lol… But I think I can get through today or I can get through the weekend.

4 Comments

  1. You’ve already got 4 months down! Just 8 more to go!!!!!! Woohoo hooo I love that little chunk of baby sugar!

  2. First off, you love & cuddle your baby. Required! Lots of physical skin to skin touching! What you research and try or decide how to feed her is your choice! It is proven that the way to increase your milk supply is her nursing to cause more milk for the next feeding. You can also pump which will do a bit for increasing milk, so you feed to her using a bottle- more increase. I believe that until baby can use her fingers, food supplements are not indicated…lessens the milk supply. Again my theory, not preaching. She is not your first and she does have some physical issues so your life is running into your nursing time As if this wasn’t enough, you have to share her with Jackson – he needs a mommy, too. With my second, I made nursing time (about every 1-2- hours) reading time for my older child so he got attention while baby was nursing or at least trying to. I nursed my babies much longer than 12 months, but that was our choice, If I had to say what is the least amount of time to nurse, I would say right after birth for colostrum and as many times as you never come to resent having to feed her. Every drop she gets inside her helps her grow, but not at the expense of the mother’s sanity. And expressed milk is always better than formula.

    End of my sermon. Once again my thoughts & tips but you must know in your heart that whatever you decide for baby & rest of family, will be the right decision for y’all. I wish I could help more but all I can do is encourage from afar. Breast milk is best, but some people need to change to bottle milk or formula.for their own reasons. Either way, you have beautiful children and are raising them in the Lord. ‘Nuf said!

    • You are right on all points. I so wish I could have nursed Kaylee Mae but it was just so painful to the point I was in tears and every muscle in my body was tensed up. I’m sure that had something to do with my low milk supply too. Tongue tie release surgery just wasn’t an option in our minds – she was just too little to be put under.
      Thankfully, my supply is pretty steady now and I can space out times for pumping (think every 4 hours or so) AND I can go about doing my regular routine since I can walk around with my pump. I can fold clothes, build lego creations with Jackson, wash dishes – you name it. I have seriously even considered showering while pumping (lol) but I never did.
      I am so thankful for pumping and bottle feeding as an option for me and my baby girl.
      Thanks for your kind words and knowledge <3

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