Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Life as an Exclusive Pumper


If you were to ask me what the hardest part about being a new mom is, I wouldn't say the screaming baby at 2am. I'd say getting up to pump at 2am.

When you have inverted nipples like I do (a very very common thing), you and the baby have to work extra hard to nurse. The nurses at the hospital told me they didn't believe in "nipple confusion" and that it's a myth. I can now say with certainty - it is NOT!

despite what this looks like, Justin is not shaking the baby

My research into this subject has shown me that the first few hours after a baby is born, their sucking techniques are "imprinted" in their minds. So, since Eisley was given a pacifier before we were even moved to the post partum ward, we were doomed. Yes, many women can work through nipple confusin and get their babies to latch on correctly in the end, but if you have inverted nipples, it's 100 times harder. There's no way Eisley was going to want to work hard at it when she was given artificial nipples that made it so easy.

Here's Eisley and I goofing around in her play gym


So that sucked. No pun intended. Next baby I have I'm outlawing ANY artificial nipples until the baby is good and used to my inverted nipples. I've tried many a times to get Eisley to latch on - using hundreds of "tricks" the lactation consultants provided me. She just won't. And I don't want to frustrate her (or myself). I *could* get hr on with a nipple shield but she didn't want to eat that way and it hurt like hell, even for days afterwards - it's impossible to get them to latch correctly with a shield.

But I wanted Eisley to have breast milk. Plus, formula is HELLA expensive. So I'm what the online mom community calls an "EPer", or exclusive pumper. It's worth it to be able to breastfeed still (I just can't nurse), but it's definitely very challenging. Surprisingly, there's a LOT of moms who resort to EPing! After googling it, I've realized I'm hardly alone. And part of what's been able to keep me going is reading the success stories. Many women make it past a year...



In my honest opinion, it's got to be harder than regular breast feeding. For an EPer to avoid losing their supply, they have to have a really good pump (thank goodness I spent the money on a Medela way back when I was just a few months pregnant) because the body seems to know the difference between a baby and a pump and it often quits producing if it's not "real" enough.

I also have to follow a strict schedule. I am not supposed to go more than a few hours without pumping. So during the day, I do it ever 2-3 hours. At night, I usually pump before bed, around 10 or 11pm. Then I get up again at 1 or 2am. Then again at 5 or 6am. It's hard! Especially when Eisley is on a whole other schedule of her own. So I get up for her and the pumping. Luckily Justin helps with Eisley.

The only real pro is that it's not as painful, although I've already encountered some blisters.

I'm looking forward to getting past 6 weeks, because then I can *try* to cut down on the night pumping. The first 6 weeks is crucial to establishing good supply. After that, if my body keeps up, then I can cut back. If I show a decrease after trying, no cigar. So far I'm doing well, staying ahead of Eisley's needs by getting about 40-50 ounces a day. She only eats 25-30. As she gets older they actually don't need as much and we'll start to phase in rice cereal.



So, 8 times a day, about 2 hours total, I spend pumping :) and after each time I hand wash all the parts and set my mental timer for another 3 hours. It's hard, but if I didn't want to be doing it, I would stop.

I'm not sure how long I'll be able to go... I'm hoping for at least 6 months. But according to my calculations - thats almost 1500 times pumping! I already have a freezer full, we might have to buy another just to hold all this stuff.

Wish me luck, I want to go as long as I can...

She makes me look sooo white

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