Exclusively Pumping, am I just crazy!
I am currently 7 months pregnant and have decided that I would be most comfortable exclusively breast feeding. I know this isn't the norm and I'm an odd bird. My nipples are extremely sensitive and constant friction causes them to be over stimulated and painful even before pregnancy. I'm very worried this will be the case of breastfeeding and thinking about it makes me cringe. I am willing to try normal breast feeding however I am not to hopeful it will be something I stick to for the long haul. This brought me to exclusively pumping.
This is my second child. My first went to NICU for a week after she was born and no one suggested pumping. She was tube fed formula and when she was released I was inexperienced and wanted to do everything I could to keep her healthy. I stick to the formula as the hospital showed me and never thought about breast feeding. I know some women say that bonding over a bottle or breast feeding isn't the same but I had no issues bonding while giving my child a bottle. Actually I feel the stress I would experience trying to breast feed the normal way would cause me to be less connected during feedings.
I have done some research as to what I am getting myself into. I have purchased Medela Advanced Personal Double Breastpump. I know to start I will have to pump every 2 hours for at least 15 minutes but no more than 20. The idea is to have established 8-12 pumping sessions throughout a 24 hour period. My goal is to get though the first 3 days when the baby's intake is not very much breast feeding normally and pumping the other breast to stimulate milk production. I stay at home and my oldest child goes to school full time so my ability to pump every two hours should be pretty open. I plan on starting at 6am, 8am, 10am, 12am, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, 8pm, 10pm, and then when then when the baby wakes up during the middle of the night. My other child was easy to put onto a sleeping schedule during the night of going to sleep at 10, waking up at 12, 3 and then 6 which works with the pumping schedule I have planned.
My plan is mostly to have the milk stored in the fridge. I think I will want to establish a week's worth of milk to freeze but I am okay with dumping the milk. I know fridge milk is only good for a week and my plan is to be about 4 days ahead. Monday the baby has last Friday's milk and so on. This way when the demand increases I have a few days room to catch up and express more.
Is my plan crazy? Is it something that only seems good on paper? I am thinking it is a 15-20 session which gives me an hour and forty-five minutes in between pumping. Babies rarely sleep for longer so it's not like I will be missing more sleep to pump. I am semi flexible with my schedule and can change times to fit the baby's schedule. I also know I can be a bit late on pumping if I go out someplace or having a bad day. I have read that it's more about the amount of sessions than getting the times exactly right. Any advice would be appreciated. I would hate to waste over $500 on bottles, pump, parts, etc... only to have it be something that was insane to begin with.
What extras should I purchase to make this go as smoothly as possible? I am an A-type personality who needs everything to "ready" for when she arrives. Thanks for any help!
Re: Exclusively Pumping, am I just crazy!
Hi mama, there are mothers who exclusively pump for various reasons. So it's certainly feasible. But over the long run, harder than nursing. As baby gets older and you start going out and about, you have to figure out places where you can pump while out. It's harder for many women to maintain their milk supply with pumping, compared with nursing. Some women are not able to empty the breast well with pumping and have trouble with plugged ducts. As your baby gets older and more mobile, it's hard to combine pumping and taking care of baby. Not to say you can't or shouldn't do it, but just some information to think about. If I understand you correctly, you are planning to nurse for the first few days? I think that's a great idea, for one, because it's hard to pump out the colustrum that is so important in those early days. Would you be open to seeing how that feels for you? Keeping in mind that often those first few days can be the hardest, and the most painful - in my experience, even the second and third time around, I had to get used to breastfeeding again before it became as comfortable and natural as it did. Perhaps even some combination of nursing and pumping may be easier to maintain over the long run than pumping alone.
If you decide that EP'ing is the way you want to go, I think your plan and pumping schedule sounds like a good start - you may have to tweak it as you go along depending on your milk output. You might also want to consider using a hospital grade rental pump at the beginning to establish your supply, then switch to the Medela after that.
Although I think it makes sense to use the fresh milk that you are pumping to feed baby, if there is extra I personally would freeze it. Keep in mind that mothers sometimes struggle with maintaining supply with pumping, so even if you are able to pump plenty early on, you might find you need the extra milk later. Definitely do not dump it! You can keep the freezer stash fresh by periodically using the older frozen milk and subbing in fresher frozen milk.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some women do need more than a 15 or 20 minute session to pump - I don't know that you can predict that ahead of time.
Personally I would not spend a lot of money on extras until you see how things are going to go. If after a month or so it seems like your plan is working out, then you can invest in more bottles, flanges etc if you need to.
Speaking of flanges, it's important to make sure the ones you are using are properly fitted. A LC, preferably in IBCLC, can help fit them. Also keep in mind that the size that fits may change over time.
Re: Exclusively Pumping, am I just crazy!
Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the baby to come!
It's wonderful that you're open to breastfeeding this time around. And while I completely (COMPLETELY!!!) understand the urge to have everything planned before your baby arrives, I really encourage you to stay open and flexible. Everything may change once your baby arrives- as an experienced mom, and one who saw her first child through a NICU stay, I am sure you know how easily and how rapidly a baby can alter your well-constructed plans!
Nipples are designed to be sensitive- that's how a mom knows her baby is latched on properly. If it hurts, she needs to adjust the baby's latch. When a baby is properly latched on, the nipple actually experiences almost no motion, compression, suction, or friction. It sits on the back of the baby's tongue, at the opening of the throat. Motion/friction/compression/suction is happening at the front of the baby's mouth, where the areola sits. So if you can, today, pinch your areola and not feel pain in the nipple, that's a good indication that your nipples aren't going to enter into the equation when you're nursing or pumping.
The extreme sensitivity to friction makes me wonder if you have something going on that's a bit outside the normal realm. Maybe Raynaud's phenomenon? Raynaud's is pain that accompanies a sudden constriction in the vasculature, and resultant limited blood flow. Do you ever see your nipples blanch (turn white), turn bluish or bluish purple, and then return to a normal color?
It's wonderful that you're thinking of nursing for the first few days. If you're open to nursing for a few days, would you consider trying to nurse for a few weeks? Many moms find that nursing is painful at first, but if they tough it out for a while it becomes painless. Not trying to push you- I just think it's something to consider, particularly because nursing "straight from the tap" is so much easier than exclusive pumping.
Don't get me wrong: exclusive pumping (EP) can work and plenty of moms do it. Bfwmomof3 did a good job of outlining why EP can be difficult. When I was EP, I found that the hardest thing to balance was needing to pump and also needing to take care of my crying, hungry baby.
Your pumping schedule looks okay, but I would really encourage you to include some nighttime pump sessions during the first few weeks/months, as you figure out exactly what sort of pumping schedule is going to work for you. Nighttime sessions tend to yield a lot of milk, and nighttime pumping will help keep your daytime supply up where it should be. Babies are kind of designed to be nighttime feeders, so it is natural for our bodies to be producing milk, and having milk removed, at night.
ETA: The price point you have for pumping seems a bit high. If you live in the US and have health insurance, your plan is probably required to pay for a pump, so knock $200-300 off your estimate right there. Bottles you'd need to buy anyway, if you were going to feed your baby formula, so there goes another $100 or so. And bags for milk are cheap- I don't remember exactly how much, but pretty insignificant. But even if pumping did cost you the whole $500, it would still be a) cheaper than formula and b) worth it, because it's so much better for your health and the baby's health.
Re: Exclusively Pumping, am I just crazy!
I have been EPing for 11.5 weeks and I hate it...despise it. I would do nearly anything to simply breastfeed. The time it takes to pump, feed, wash, repeat-- takes up my whole day. I would rather spend more time with my baby and leave the house to see other people! If you can avoid EPing, I, without a nanosecond of hesitation, would recommend it.