It seemed like right when mini-d and I were starting to get into a good rhythm with breastfeeding it was time for me to return to work. Working, nursing, and pumping brought their own set of unique challenges. As I type this I already know that it will be difficult for some people to understand why I would put myself through this. If you have never experienced the joy of looking at your little one and seeing them grow knowing that YOU were providing their nourishment or being the cure all to every bump, scrape, and boo-boo then you probably won't get it, and that's okay.
Everyone has their own unique journey. My hope is that maybe there is a Mommy or future Mommy out there reading this that is getting overwhelmed thinking about returning to work and breastfeeding, and maybe by chance this blog encourages them because I can tell you from experience it is totally 100% possible. If it's worth it to you, you will find a way. Even if that means climbing three flights of stairs multiple times a day to pump in the dressing room of the gym at your work. Yes you heard that right, my work has a gym. My job rocks.
Anyway, we started introducing the bottle at around 8 weeks so that hopefully we could get mini-d to eat from someone other than me because we knew that at 12 weeks that would be the reality of our situation. She hated it. I couldn't even be in the house when daddy-d would attempt to feed her with it because she could smell me from a mile away. Remember what I said about milk vampires? Eventually after many tears, about twenty different bottle brands, and about 2 weeks we got it figured out.
So we got her to take the bottle, but now I was responsible for producing what we would put in it. This began my relationship with THE PUMP....my BFF for a year. Working out a schedule of feeding and pumping and freezing and thawing was a little insane.
Our schedule went a little something like this:
12:00 am - 4:00 am - Nurse on demand (or on hemangioma medication schedule)
4:30 am - Pump dry before showering for work (usually I would get 4 - 6 ounces)
7:00 am - Pump dry before leaving for work (2 ounces)
10:00 am - Pump dry (4 ounces)
12:30 pm - Pump dry (4 ounces)
3:30 pm - Pump dry (4 ounces)
5:30 pm - 11:59 pm Nurse on demand
I pumped both sides at the same time for 6 - 10 minutes depending on how full I was.
So what did I freeze? Did I produce enough? Please remember that a breastfed baby NEVER needs more than 4 ounces of milk at a feeding. Look it up, truth. We used the FIFO (first in first out, AKA nerdy accounting term) method for frozen breastmilk. I would freeze everything I pumped that day.
Side Note - The Up & Up bags made by Target are the absolute best for freezing milk!
I knew roughly how much mini-d was going to eat every day so I would take the oldest frozen milk out and put it in the fridge the night before to unthaw. When in doubt unthaw a little more than you think is necessary. It is good in the fridge for 2-3 days unthawed, or truthfully until it starts to get a smell. The bags would be kept cold until it was time to warm the milk for the bottle. One bag would be placed in a bowl of warm water (much easier to warm in the bag vs. the bottle), and then poured in to the bottle. Test the milk on your wrist by squirting a little out, if you don't feel it it's the right temperature. This means it is body temperature, which is what it would be if your little was getting it from the tap. Once warmed your milk is good at room temperature for up to 6 hours.
We always had a surplus of milk, and were actually able to donate to other Mommy's a few times.
At 9 months mini-d just decided she was done with the boobs entirely. It was like a light switch went off and she wanted nothing to do with them anymore. The feelings that come over you during this process are so strong and so mixed. It was part relief and a large part sadness. Most people will call what she did a nursing strike. Unfortunately, we couldn't spend all day cuddled up trying to re-kindle that relationship, which is what some would suggest. I had to go to work on Monday so when it was over it was just over.
At this point I now had to pump ALL THE TIME. If she was going to eat I was going to have to pump because knowing that I could produce what was best for her and not giving it to her just wasn't an option I was willing to consider.
When she turned a year old I put the pump down. Over a three week period I weaned myself from pumping. I knew we were done. I had enough milk frozen to feed her for THREE MORE MONTHS. And honestly still have some frozen that I give her on occasion.
Things you can use breastmilk for that may surprise you:
Pink Eye or Cold in Eye (use as drops)
Ear Infection (use as drops)
Eczema (rub on affected area)
Immune System Booster
Freeze as a Popsicle for teething
Helpful Tip: If you are going to have to really depend on your pump don't go for a cheap one. We all know I'm all about saving that dollar, but this is a case where money should not be an issue. Besides, consider all of the money you are saving by not buying formula? You can also claim the pump, bags, and all misc. breastfeeding supplies as miscellaneous medical expenses on your Schedule A on your tax return.
This is the pump I recommend (picture is linked):
Many insurance providers are now covering the cost of your pump so be sure to check on that too. OR you can buy used and replace the tubing at minimal cost.
PS: Please feel free to ask ANY questions. I'm totally open to answering questions, and would love to hear your feedback. Much Love, Misti