I stopped breastfeeding in favor of pumping.
One of the hardest decisions I had to make as a new mother was whether or not to stop breastfeeding. You hear about all the moms who have this strong bond with their baby through breastfeeding… Unfortunately I was not one of them. I realized that after several months of trying to breastfeed, it was taking not only a physical toll, but also an emotional toll on me – even to the point where I almost resented my own baby.
Torben never liked the breast from the get-go; he had been given a bottle from day one because of time he spent in the NICU. Pair that with a tongue tie and size issues and it made it almost impossible to get him to latch. When he did latch, it was painful! I was sore from trying to hold him in the right position, my breasts were bruised from trying to hold them at just the right angle, my neck kinked from staring down at my chest, nipples chaffed and pinched.
We had Torben get a frenotomy which fixed his tongue tie, but I didn’t feel like it helped with the feeding, and so I opted for a nipple shield. That worked okay for several months, but he wasn’t ever able to empty me completely and my supply fluctuated immensely! I would start to get an extra freezer stash going and then suddenly I was using my freezer stash every feed, had no milk and was emotional about not being able to provide enough for my baby! Over time it was harder and harder for him to latch – even with the shield – to the point that some days I would spend 10 minutes just to get him to actually latch, all the while he would cry, claw, slap, push, and squirm. Sometimes he would even latch (after 10 minutes of me trying) and then decide a minute later that he no longer wanted the breast.
Looking back, I believe I could have done things differently to encourage better feedings. Part of the problem was that we gave him a bottle at night to “dream feed” which my husband would do so that I could get some sleep! This potentially caused nipple confusion, but I think my baby just got lazy and realized that the bottle was easier to get milk out of!
That didn’t change the fact that I felt like he was always hungry, fussing, and hated the breast. Since starting to exclusively pump, the tables have turned and I find that I can now enjoy spending that quality time with my baby.
Since I now pump exclusively, here are some pros to pumping along with some tips I’ve gathered along the way!
1. Do it on Your Own Schedule
Your baby may need to eat every 3 hours, but you get to choose how often you want to pump. This is also a great option for working mothers as they don’t need to be with the baby to pump milk. I’ve personally chosen to schedule my pump sessions so that they are either during baby’s play time or nap time. I pump roughly 3-4 times a day at 4-5 hour increments, and then I sleep through the night!
2. Know How Much Your Baby is Eating
One of my biggest concerns when we first came home from the hospital was if my baby was getting enough food. My milk supply fluctuated so much that I couldn’t have been sure one day to another how much milk I was actually producing. Torben always seemed hungry, and I always felt empty.
By pumping rather than nursing, I now know exactly how much milk he is getting and am confident that he is a healthy and well-fed chunk.
3. Save Money!
Some people question why some mothers spend time pumping since they aren’t physically nursing a child on their breast and when formula is more convenient. While I could come up with a few reasons on why I personally prefer breast milk to formula (my child has had both), one of the biggest reasons is that it saves you money!
Having a baby can be expensive, and to top off all the money we’ve spent on our bundles of joy, formula is even more expensive! If your baby eats like mine does (both eating large amounts and simply spilling it all over the place), it needs to be purchased often, so I choose to pump that liquid gold while I can!
4. Build your Freezer Stash (and Lay the Bags Flat)
If you’re concerned about leaving your little one for more than a few hours because they won’t have anything to eat, queue the freezer stash! Milk can be frozen for 6-12 months and having a freezer stash is perfect if you need to be away from your baby for an extended period of time. All you’ve got to do is take any extra milk pumped, put it in a bag that is designed for storing breast milk (we use these ones), DATE IT, then throw it in the freezer. These bags are cheap and often have the ounce/ML marks already on them. One way we have saved space is to lay them flat to freeze and then they can be stacked and stored much easier than large blobs of frozen milk.
Using milk from your freezer stash allows your baby to continue to get breast milk instead of getting a one-off with formula that could mess with their little bellies and bowels. Additionally, you won’t have to open an entire canister of formula just for one evening out with your girl friends!
Pump some milk, find a babysitter, and go on a baby-free outing! All I see is win-win here.
4. Baby Bonds With Partner
By bottle-feeding your baby, not only can you ask your partner to help with some of those late-night feedings, it also gives them an extra chance to bond with the baby in ways that they previously had no interaction with.
Really though, I was so appreciative that my husband was willing to feed the baby at 12:00 am so that I could get some much needed rest. It gives him and the baby some time without giggles or crying or electronics to just enjoy each others company. Staring into those little eyes can just melt my heart!
Sometimes I’ll watch Daddy and baby while feeding (since my dearest husband also does most of the bedtime feedings now) and can literally see the love radiate from him. It also gets you thinking about how amazing it is to know that this little child of God is solely dependent on you.
5. Insurance Covers your Breast Pump
I had the hardest time getting my breast pump and I don’t even know why. I had already had the baby, and was given the run around and sent in circles by literally everyone I talked to — my insurance company, the hospital, my OB/GYN, and the Pediatrician. Somehow with all of those resources at my disposal, I ended up having to figure it out on my own.
After some extensive online research, I found a the company that finally gave me my pump.
The company? Edgepark Medical Supplier.
Let me tell ya, this company was the light in the dark! The website had me put in my insurance company and plan, then automatically filtered which pumps were covered by that specific insurance plan. Once chosen, I filled in the rest of my insurance details (found on your insurance card) and submitted. Simple. As. Pie.
Not only did I get my pump just a few days later, they also filed the medical claim directly with my insurance company so I didn’t have to be the middle man or worry about who bills who. (I am not a sponsor of this company – I just really loved my experience with it.)
I would definitely say that a breast pump is great to have, even if you exclusively breastfeed. It’s a back-up in case you’re gone for awhile and need to express some milk (and if that happens, go ahead and save that milk for your freezer stash!).
5.5. Portable electric pump
I’ll call this 5.5. because it is all about getting a breast pump.
One of the things I hate is being stuck on the couch or in a chair because my pump has to be plugged in to the wall. Having a portable pump enables you to be mobile. Pair this with a hands free pumping bra and you can basically go throughout your day as normal!
6. Hands Free Pumping Bra
Speaking of convenience… Do yourself a favor and actually get a hands free pumping bra! Having your hands available makes a world of difference – even if it simply enables you to scroll through your phone.
7. Purchase Extra Pump Equipment
If you pump exclusively, I highly suggest getting several sets so that you are not stuck hand washing each piece every few hours. I was able to rotate through the day and then wash after Torben had gone to bed.
8. Utilize your Dishwasher
I’d say the one downside to pumping is that your pump has parts that all need to be washed regularly. Luckily, there are dishwashers – let them do the dirty work!
Once thoroughly rinsed, I throw the pieces into the top rack of my dishwasher (to be run later that day). Be sure to use your bottle cleaner and give them a good sterilizing regularly as keeping your pieces clean is so important to the health of your baby
9. It Burns Calories!
This is probably my favorite perk to pumping. Did you know that each ounce of breast milk that is pumped burns roughly 20 calories? It’s true!
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these tips and tricks for pumping!
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