Over the past 13 months I have been exclusively pumping for Clare. I struggled for 3 months trying to get her to nurse and accepting the fact that she never would. I started pumping in the hospital, but I didn't want to give up. I had NO IDEA that exclusively pumping was even a "thing" people did. I had NO idea what I was doing either.
I could probably write a book about exclusively pumping... It could probably get published too. There is little knowledge, support or awareness about exclusively pumping. Not many lactation consultants -(LC's) even recommend it. I think they live in their own perfect world where everyone breastfeeds and it's so damn easy.
After my daughter was born I put her skin to skin with me. It was the most amazing feeling ever. I couldn't believe that in 20 minutes I pushed out a beautiful HUMAN!
After she got cleaned up I tried breastfeeding. They nurse helped me get Clare latched on... She made it look so easy. I thought to myself, awesome here we go! The second she left clare popped off and when I tried to get her back on it was impossible.
The next couple of times I tried to breastfeed it was the same thing, the nurse would hang out for like 30 seconds and leave. I was struggling so bad. One of the nurses asked me if I wanted to pump... I said, "Sure!" (Mind you I was still waiting for the LC to come by and see me.) I would have never thought to do that! So I pumped and my husband gave Clare her first bottle, see picture below :)
Monday December 30th 10am
Today is the day we get discharged. It's 10am we are about an hour or two away from heading home. I was STILL waiting to see an LC for the first time. The nurses had come in and helped me latch; they always made it look so easy... It wasn't. It was painful... It was hard... It was impossible to get Clare to latch on my own. My husband would try and help me but he was as clueless as I was.
So I asked a nurse when I was going to see an LC as we were LEAVING soon. She told me one would be coming soon and to make sure to hide my daughters paci because they would probably yell at me! WTF??? I did what they told because I was not in any type of mood to argue with some random woman and it just seemed easier. (Some people think that a paci and bottle will give the baby nipple confusion and will hinder them from latching correctly or at all)
So in walks this woman, I don't remember her name but I will never forget what she said to me, "So, I see that you gave your daughter a bottle this morning?! That probably wasn't the best choice... You should have used a syringe." I think I was so shocked I didn't even process what she said in the moment. It was probably a combination of the drugs, the exhaustion and the shock of, "holy shit I just had a baby!"
She grabbed my daughter's head, which I thought was a little rough, and shoved her on to my breast... Was she thinking the harder you push the better the latch will be?? It didn't feel right, I didn't feel comfortable and she didn't TEACH me... She did it for me and that was that. Have you ever heard the saying, teach a kid to cook and he can feed himself forever? Yeah.. This lady needs to hear that one.
Ugh, another thing that didn't help my situation; I asked the nurse to write me a perscription for a breast pump. She told me that the only way my insurance would cover it would be if my child was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and even then it would be a manual pump... I wanted to cry. I had spoken with someone from my insurance company months before I had Clare and they said no problem they would cover one. I never thought to ask what kind. So not only was I going home feeling like I had NO idea what I was doing, I was going home without a breast pump... Honestly I don't think I would have known what to do with it anyway! I did no research on my own... I went home more confused than I ever had been in my life! Which I guess isn't surprising since I'd never had a baby before. :-D
Note: make sure you call your insurance in advance, ask them WHAT KIND of breast pump they cover. Can you pay an extra amount of money to get a better pump? I had no idea that was even an option. Ask a million questions. Don't feel afraid! There is no such thing as a stupid question.
So during the first week we were home I tried constantly to get Clare to latch. Most of the time I was either unsuccessful or it was so painful I wanted to cry. My mother in law and father in law were so extremely thoughtful; they picked me up a Tommy Tippie breast pump from target. It was a godsend. I was able to relieve myself and feed Clare!
My cousin Lisa had voiced to me months and months before that she had a breast pump she could give me if I wanted it. It was time to call in a favor! I texted messages my cousin and she OVER NIGHTED ME her pump!! I was SO thankful! So my pumping journey officially started here!
Here was this pump sitting in front of me and let me tell you I had NO IDEA what to do with it. Back to my Mommyhood group I went! I wish I could remember the girl that told me about the group Exclusively Pumping Group because I would send her the biggest thank you ever!! This group taught me everything I plan to share with you about being a pumping mama!
Honestly the first couple of weeks were a blur, as I stated above I was going 5-6 hours between pumps because my daughter had to go to the hospital 2x a day to get her blood drawn for jaundice. It wasn't until our over night stay at the hospital did I really say, "ok, maybe this is the road that is going to work for us." when it came to pumping. I asked to see an LC before we left. My husband wasn't too happy about this because he was satisfied with me pumping; with knowing how much milk she was getting. I'm sure the exhaustion from being up the majority of the night didn't help. (One of us had to be awake to make sure that Clare didn't ripe the shades off of her eyes.)
This LC changed my POV on LC's. She was so kind, supportive and informational. The words she said to me will stay with me forever, she said "I personally don't care how a baby gets breastmilk as long as they get breastmilk." So now I had a little more "support" on my pumping journey.
So we got home from the hospital around 2pm Saturday afternoon and I started having some major pain in my left breast. I went to my pumping group to ask what was wrong and they told me the basics of pumping. Making sure I was pumping every 2 hours, massage the area that hurts as it is most likely a clogged milk ducts, take hot hot showers and let the water hit your breasts, the hot water will get your milk flowing. Little did I know I was on my way to a nasty bout of mastitis.
For those of you who don't know what mastitis is, it is an infected milk duct. It is one of the most painful things I've ever delt with. I had flu like symptoms Sunday; chills, body aches, I could not get warm, and a fever of 102.4-103. About 10-15 moms told me to call the on-call doctor and tell them I have mastitis and to call me in an antibiotic asap. My amazing husband went out at 12am and got my antibiotic. Over the next couple of days my symptoms didn't get any better. I went in for a visit and I got a different antibiotic. It took 2 weeks, another doctors visit and another 1/2 script of antibiotics to get ride of it. If you ever get this make sure you call your doctor ASAP, it is not something to fool around with. (Note, you can still feed baby the milk and you will see a dip in your supply).
Please see my next post of a whole lot more tips I have polled my two groups on. There are some amazing tips that you wouldn't want to pump without. I hope you will find my posts helpful and please feel free to add any advice to any of my posts for other readers!!