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Pump It Up

Mar16

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bounceback_week28.jpgDuring my first pregnancy I registered for (and received) a small manual Avent Isis pump. Several people who saw it on my baby registry list gently patted my head and suggested that I wait and go the double-barrel hospital-rental route instead. Oh, I was! I told them! I have read all about pumps and pumping and pump-related accessories! The hand-pump is for later, for when I’m back and work and everything is going swimmingly and perfect and I just think I’ll want something small and discreet, you know?

And they would nod and pat my head again, because oh, AMY.

I did rent a hospital-grade pump. First, the LC gave me a big blue beast of a thing that tore my already battle-scarred nipples up. (“Pump trauma.” It’s apparently an actual Thing.) I swapped it for another hospital-grade pump, the Medela Symphony. This pump worked in that it did not hurt, but not so much with the actual production of actual milk. Jason would feed my losing-too-much-weight newborn formula while I pumped and cried and felt like a malfunctioning dairy cow. I hated it. HATED.

My plan to stockpile breast milk in preparation for returning to work was a spectacular failure — Noah went to his first day of daycare with the entire stash of one-and-a-half bottles. Likewise, pumping at work never produced enough to see him through the next day. Sometimes I didn’t even bother bringing home the sad little half-ounce amounts. I tried EVERYTHING. Baby photos, baby clothes, visualizations of rooting and waterfalls. The only thing that seemed to trigger a letdown was watching a video clip of Noah nursing, complete with those snuffly greedy baby noises he’d make, but it wasn’t like I was ever awash in ounce upon ounce of liquid gold.

The Avent hand-pump was indeed, a laughable choice for me, as it was nowhere near powerful enough for my stubborn boobs. Oh, AMY.

I never pumped “enough” at work, either. I had an office with a door and a lock and assumed that I’d have no problem finding time to pump during the day. And then I’d show up for work and some crisis would happen or a meeting would run over and then suddenly it was 2 pm and I hadn’t even eaten lunch, much less pumped to relieve my aching boobs. Seriously, there are few things that impress me more than hearing about mothers who end up pumping more or less exclusively for month after month. I want to give them all the gold stars and medals that we all joke about not getting.

I stopped viewing pumping at work as a milk production endeavor — Noah drank formula when he was away from me and there really wasn’t anything else to do. I kept pumping just to keep my boobs from drying up completely so we could continue to breastfeed at home. When Noah weaned after a couple months of this, one of my very first thoughts was something along the lines of “oh thank goodness, I don’t have to pump anymore.” I boxed every breastfeeding accessory I owned and donated some and tossed the rest. I was done. I was never doing that to myself again. If breastfeeding didn’t work the second time, I would give myself permission to stop and not torture myself with the pump.

I did rent the Medela Symphony again, pledging to at least do whatever I could at first to combat potential supply problems. I pumped for 10 to 15 minutes after every feeding, essentially tricking my body into thinking I’d had twins. And oh, how the milk flowed this time! Ounces and ounces of it! A quick sniff of Ezra’s laundry or the sound of a running sink faucet was enough to trigger an enormously powerful letdown reflex. Instead of hunching over the wheezing machine and feeling sorry for myself, I was filled with awe and pride at what my boobs were doing this time. I’d bring multiple full storage bags down to our refrigerator and show them off to Jason, like: DUDE. LOOK WHAT I CAN DO.

Once it was clear that I’d veered into oversupply territory, I returned my rental and bought both a Pump-in-Style…AND a Medela Harmony manual pump (which worked great for relieving engorgement or to prevent poor Ezra from choking on the initial letdown). I didn’t need to return to work, but my fridge and freezer always had enough milk to last a week. Pumping wasn’t a chore as much as a ticket to convenience…and a little freedom. Date nights. A solo shopping trip while Jason stayed home. An extra sanity-saving bottle in the diaper bag in case we got stuck in traffic or otherwise off schedule.
After awhile, though, my supply dipped as Ezra slept longer and nursed less, and the pump was the first thing to go. I suddenly couldn’t get anything anymore, maybe an ounce here or there. I was actually kind of bummed. Then Ezra started rejecting pumped milk anyway, so I boxed the pumps up and stuck them in a closet.

I never really thought about how my pumping experiences were just as drastically different as my actual nursing experiences, but they were. The first time, it’s like I transferred all my frustration and discomfort with nursing and working to that blasted pump, and it rewarded me in kind. The second time, everything was just…fine. Not a big deal at all. Was it me? The baby? More confidence, better technique? Physical? Mental? I have no idea. Sometimes pumping is great, and sometimes it…well, it sucks.

(Weirdly, entirely unrelated: Writing this post [and last week's] triggered very weird phantom letdown sensations in my boobs. The guy at the table next to me is giving me weird looks because I keep yanking on my bra. Keep it classy, self!)

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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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41 Responses to “Pump It Up”

  1. Christy Mar 16 at 10:37 am Reply Reply

    I appreciate the gold stars offered to ladies who pump at work. My son is 10.5 months and I am still pumping. I’m waiting until the magical one year point to start weaning him, and sometimes I wonder if I will miss the pump…yeah, probably not.

  2. kristin @ going country Mar 16 at 10:55 am Reply Reply

    Pumping is not fun. But neither are painful, totally engorged boobs that leak constantly, so the pump wins when THAT happens.
    Breastfeeding is beautiful and awe-inspiring and cool and all, but also . . . kind of gross sometimes.

  3. Sarah Mar 16 at 11:09 am Reply Reply

    I’ll take those gold stars, but I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep them. I’m pumping exclusively and am at 4 months. Something happened about 3 weeks ago (not sure what?) and my supply dropped like a rock. My goal was to have tons of milk in the freezer, and now we are going through it like crazy – unfreezing 1-2 bags a day. I hope I can last until 6 months with exclusive breastmilk, but I have been eyeing those formula coupons, and looking for deals. I’m only pumping once a day at work, and once in the morning, and once at night. I’m sure this is partially why my supply is low, but I swear it worked before! I had more milk than i knew what to do with! At this point though I’m exhausted, sick of lugging the pump to work, hating the fact that pumping takes up so much of my time, and just feeling resentful of the pump. I’m ready to call it quits, even though I am determined to make it to 6 months.

  4. Michelle Mar 16 at 11:24 am Reply Reply

    I had the Medela Pump in Style with my first son. Breastfeeding was a spectacularly unproductive endeavor with him. He was a little early (36.5 weeks), severely tongue-tied; although I didn’t know that until later (thanks unhelpful lactation consultant), and was very jaundiced so I was told to get feed him as often as possible to help flush out the excess bilirubin. So I pumped and fed him breastmilk exclusively. The pump worked great and I had PLENTY of supply in the beginning. I had stashes of frozen breastmilk.
    Then at about 9 weeks, my supply started to dwindle (I truly think the mini pill had something to do with it). So I took fenugreek and pumped more often. My baby was sleeping through the night and I was getting up to pump. There is something very wrong with that. And then I went back to work (no choice, husband was laid off); there was a lovely laction room with a couch and InStyle magazine which was great. But still the supply wasn’t what it once was. Just shy of my son’s 4 month birthday, my dad passed away. And what little supply I had just limped away with the stress and the grief, etc. I was so heartbroken although the kid didn’t care one way or the other. Sold the stupid pump because I wasn’t doing that again.
    Only I am. Ha! My 2nd son was born a champion nurser and breastfeeding has been awesome with him. I went back to work in the office for 4 days week when he was 12 weeks. But now I work from home and only pump a couple times a day so the sitter can feed him while I work. My production for the pump isn’t spectacular. Frankly if I was having to pump exclusively again, I would already be supplementing with formual (my baby is 7.5 months old now).
    I did get a hand pump early on just to relief pressure since I have a lot of supply early on. And I found it fairly useless. Way easier to use the PIS for 2 or 3 minutes.
    And seriously, if you have a pump beforehand…tell the postpartum nurse. I was given extra pump parts (horns and membrane), extra storage containers, lanolin, etc. All free at the hospital by the very kind nursing staff. Loved having an extra set of everything when I was pumping in the office!

  5. Bethany Mar 16 at 11:29 am Reply Reply

    My son never got a good latch. We only lasted 2 weeks with nursing. I’ve been pumping exclusively since then. He will be 10 months old on Friday. He ended up with lots of food allergies and would have needed special, SUPER expensive, formula. We’ve been keeping it up purely from a budget standpoint. Initially, of course, it was for those motherly antibodies and what not. I was lucky enough to go back to work at a daycare where they let me pump as often as I needed. Now, I’m lucky enough to be able to stay home and that’s working nicely too. Thanks for the gold stars, Amy! Sometimes we really need them as we feel like dairy cows.

  6. Christy, we must have had our babies around the same time (April 28 for me). My daughter is 10.5 months and I am still pumping. I use the Pump-in-Style and it works great.
    I almost felt ashamed two weeks ago when I had to introduce formula for the first time. I know, lame right? I give my daughter salsa, but I don’t want to give her life-sustaining formula.
    After so much time, I have to say I am FINALLY ready to be done with pumping. From a convenience perspective, I have been ready to be done for a long time, but I have been too scared that breastfeeding will be over once I stop the pumping.
    I have a trip for work at the end of this month, so I am storing up milk for the mornings/evenings of that trip and then I *think* I am ready to pull the plug on the pumping.
    My relationship with my pump is more love/hate than most I can think of. It is less than 20 minutes of my workday, but it seems so hard to fit in… In all reality, it is not that bad. The worse part is schleping the pump to work and home each day.
    Amy, you obviously hit a topic I could ramble on forever about right now…
    Oh and every time I read your overproduction story, I laugh out loud.
    Cheers!

  7. Olivia Mar 16 at 12:44 pm Reply Reply

    I pumped at work from the time my baby was 3 weeks to just last week when she was 11.5 months. Please, may I have my gold stars? ;)
    Seriously though, for the first 3 months or so I was able to pump enough for her next day. But at around 4 months she hit a growth spurt or the mini-pill messed with my supply or…? I went from 4 oz per session to 2 or 3 oz, and once the freezer supply was gone my husband had to start giving her one bottle of formula a day in addition to the breastmilk.
    Pumping is just so different from a nursing baby. I know, duh right? But I never had a supply problem per se. My daughter was always able to nurse and was obviously getting enough milk, but the pump just didn’t get good results.
    I am so happy she is eating enough solids and drinking from cups that I could quit pumping. I HATED pumping. I hate the sound, I hate setting it up and taking it down and washing and drying, and hauling the milk cooler to/from work. It was really a necessary evil for me. Everytime I pumped I missed my daughter and lamented how I was hooked to this machine instead of nursing my baby.
    Thankfully, the pumping is over, and I can just enjoy nursing my daughter when we are together.

  8. bessie.viola Mar 16 at 1:18 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks for the gold star. This post made me cry a little bit (and I also had the phantom letdown). I pumped exclusively for 10 months. My daughter flat-out would not latch; she had better things to do, hated my boobs, whatever. It was an incredible love/hate relationship with the pump. I loved what it enabled me to do; hated pretty much everything else about it. My story is here: http://bessieviola.wordpress.com/category/breastfeeding/
    Amy, your story makes me really hopeful that my next experience with breastfeeding will also be absolutely different. Thanks for acknowledging the “herd” of pumpers. ;)

  9. chatty cricket Mar 16 at 1:22 pm Reply Reply

    I find this FASCINATING.
    I am 12 weeks away from being due with our 4th.
    I did not nurse my first two (I was adamant that I did NOT want to nurse my first- LONG STORY- and regretfully decided I should stick with what I know for my second)
    I DID nurse my third (because I was pretty sure that would be my last shot to give it a try)(WHOOPSIE! SURPRISE BONUS BABY)
    Recently I decided I will indeed try nursing the 4th.
    Nursing the 3rd was…….interesting. We made it through 9 weeks before I had to give up because my supply was so pitifully behind I was going CRAZY trying to pump and supplement and we got sucked into a whirlpool of NOT WORKING so I gave up in the interest of being happy to feed my baby instead of being stressed out about feeding my baby. I still don’t know what the problem was, but I suspect he never had a good latch and we could never REALLY make the boob thing work. So it was all pumping. And it was a LOSING BATTLE.
    So this time I keep hoping and praying I’ll get one of those babies who CAN latch, or who can at least LEARN to latch.
    Tell me more about how nursing the second time around was gangbusters, because I want to hear it.

  10. Lindsay Mar 16 at 1:31 pm Reply Reply

    I also applaud all my fellow pumpers out there! My son just turned a year and gave him only breast milk, which meant pumping at work three times a day for 8 months! I felt like throwing myself a little party to celebrate not pumping anymore. :) He’s still nursing at home, but I hope to not see that pump again until my next child is born.

  11. Amy Corinne Mar 16 at 1:39 pm Reply Reply

    I wanted to thank you for your post. I had a horrible time nursing and pumping when my daughter was born (partly because of the standard supply issues and partly because my grandmother died when my daughter was 12 days old). I beat myself up about using formula for way too long and 16 months later, I’m okay with everything. My daughter is healthy and happy, and that’s what matters.
    Anyway, reading about your experience with Ezra makes me hopeful that I’ll be a successful nurser/pumper next time. So, thanks.

  12. Dawn Mar 16 at 1:42 pm Reply Reply

    My son is just over 6 months old and I’ve been pumping exclusively since the beginning. He nursed better than his sister but never great and was introduced to the bottle much earlier then I would have liked due to his needing to stay in the hospital an extra two days thanks to extreme jaundice. But having gone through the low/dwindling supply with my daughter, I wa damn sure not going to let that happen with him! So I was able to generate a freezer full of milk while on maternity leave my tricking my boobs into thinking that I had twins (thanks for the idea to pump 10-15 min after each nursing session Amy!). I still have to defrost 2 bags/day for him but replace that with the morning’s pumping session. I’m able to pump 3 times a day during work, once in the morning and twice more in the evening. I’m glad to do it for him but I’m very much looking forward to ending this relationship come August! I can’t imagine that this is good for the tissues long term!

  13. Alissa Mar 16 at 2:10 pm Reply Reply

    SO SO happy to be done pumping! And I had a fairly decent relationship with my pump.
    But I wanted to share my most fun pumping story. When DS was five months old I traveled across the country for a wedding. Left DS at home with Dad. Brought handy pump. Which got lots of eyeballs from the security guard at airport x-ray thingy.
    On the red-eye flight back home my boobs were FULL and I needed a place to pump. Asked nice flight attendant guy, where could I pump without taking up a bathroom for 20 minutes. So – I ended up pumping in the first class flight attendant station – like where the coffee and water and stuff it. Sitting on a metal box. During turbulence. It was… an experience! :-)

  14. Abby Mar 16 at 2:13 pm Reply Reply

    I just want women who only want occasional or minor pumping to know that the Avent Isis hand pump can be all you need. I work part time now and so I only need to pump a few ounces each morning before the baby (11 months old) gets up and it works great.

  15. Marnie Mar 16 at 2:31 pm Reply Reply

    I couldn’t help but giggle, I read this while pumping at work! I pump 3 times a day at work for 15 mins each session and exclusively nurse on non-work hours. This is my 2nd go at this pumping situation and also found that it has been easier. Mostly because I know what to expect and I’ve try not to let myself get all stressed out about how much I make (emphasis on TRY). I’ve come to accept that I just don’t make as much with the pump as I do while actually nursing and that is OKAY.
    One thing that has surprised me with pumping/nursing is what a lifestyle it is. I recently went on a business trip for 4 days and my was it a LOT of stuff I brought along to continue making milk. I don’t know how those mommies who only pump do it, big huge sparkly gold stars for you!

  16. Suzanne Mar 16 at 2:41 pm Reply Reply

    I pumped in the beginning to relieve terrible, horrible engorgement and then kept doing it because…well…aren’t you supposed to? I mean, who doesn’t pump these days? Isn’t it sort of an unwritten law you have to have a freezer full of milk just in case?
    Fast forward almost 12 months and my son still refuses a bottle. Luckily I’m available to nurse him 24/7 but those 200+ oz in my deep freeze aren’t doing anyone any good. I would definitely suggest mothers don’t commit to a pump until they’re sure they’re going to need/want/keep/use it.
    p.s. If you DO need a pump long term, buying is almost always a better deal financially than renting from the hospital.

  17. Stephanie Mar 16 at 2:57 pm Reply Reply

    Pumping is not fun. And I realized quite early on that there was no way I was going to pump enough at work to give my baby what she needed. And it was so hard to find the time required to pump. I was spending an hour I didn’t have to pump out less than half of what my daughter needed! So the daycare lady began giving her half BM and half formula for about 4 months. And about six weeks ago, I just decided to stop pumping at work. I still nurse my baby in the morning and at night and all weekend long, and I feel fine about it. In fact, I feel much less stressed out now that I’ve let go of the guilt.

  18. Anonymous Mar 16 at 3:11 pm Reply Reply

    Is it an overshare to say I’m pumping at work right now? My supply has PLUMMETED. As in I only get 2-3 oz. all day. Formula is my son’s diet, but I’m crazy stubborn/competitive so I refuse to give up. I keep deciding I’ll let it go only to change my mind. Was taking Fenugreek and more milk plus before but got lazy and would forget. Think I’m going to get some more. What a silly game.
    P.S. – I have 2 pumps which is nice to not have to carry too and from work. Both off craigslist – an option for some of you still pumping champs!
    P.P.S – LOVE me some Amalah!

  19. Nora Mar 16 at 3:56 pm Reply Reply

    S turns 6 months next week and he is HUGE compared to my little 6th percentile infant.
    At his 1 month appt the doctor gave me one week to get his weight up before supplementing with formula. Milestone was achieved with basically round the clock nursing, skin-on-skin co-sleeping, and willpower. In that week we figured each other out, a week after that I was due to go back to work.
    The rental pump (Medela Lactina) had sat for two weeks without even being plugged in. Finally my husband, wanting to see how it worked, put all the parts together and plugged it in, nothing, the thing was busted. We exchanged it and he helped me maneuver to pump one side while S was working on the other, a difficult task as S tended to kick his feet while nursing, and I couldn’t seem to pump more than an ounce at a time. The pump was so big and loud I couldn’t see myself lugging it to work. I had about 10 ounces in the freezer when I went back to work.
    I got a Pump-in-style off Craigslist (I know, but it had never been used, the woman’s milk had never come in and I used all new tubing and parts). My first day back at work, after being away from the baby for a few hours for the first time, I was able to pump off 3 ounces, from each boob, in one sitting! I usually pump twice a day at work and bring home about 12 ounces for S the next day.
    I’ve been able to keep pace with S’s consumption for the most part. Sometimes I can actually pump off more than he needs, occasionally he laps me and the few bags I’ve got the freezer don’t sit for too long. We have one can of powdered formula that we have had to delve into during some of those growth spurts but there is still about a 1/4 can left and it’s due to expire soon. I feel very proud that I have outlasted the can of Enfamil.

  20. Claire Mar 16 at 4:25 pm Reply Reply

    I pumped at work from months 5-7 (twice a day), then was home again nursing exclusively from months 7-10. When I went back to work (again) at 10 months, I refused to pump at work, but was able to keep up with nursing at home for many months after that. I nursed 3 times a day for a month, then two times a day for another month, and then from months 12-15, my daughter only nursed once a day, in the morning, and somehow there was milk. And then one day she didn’t ask to nurse when she woke up, and nursing was over, just like that (not that I expected a going-away party, but it was SO unceremonious, after all those months of nursing!).
    So you guys who are worried about stopping pumping at work, just know that it might be okay and your milk supply might regulate to only make milk when you are at home with the baby, at least for a while, if you want to keep nursing at home. I was very pleasantly surprised by this, myself (and just a little bit proud of my body)!
    Eek, and as I write this, I’m having those phantom let-down feelings! Creepy.

  21. Melissa Mar 16 at 6:02 pm Reply Reply

    I’m one of those exclusive pumper people. DS and I just never got the hang of nursing … there was tongue-tie that was diagnosed late, flat nipples, thrush, numerous bouts of blocked ducts, etc., etc., etc. So, I’m pumping. And I hate it. My nipples are still sore and sensitive. DS still has thrush. I hate having to put him down to pump. I hate feeling like I can’t leave home for more than 4 hours because I need to pump. I’m constantly sick with some sort of ailment, I think because I’m not getting enough sleep what with waking to feed him and then having to pump. The constant washing and drying of pump parts, bottles, storage containers, etc, is driving me nuts, as is constantly tallying the milk in the fridge to see if I’m keeping up.
    I’m committed to exclusive BM for three months, and then I’m going to start introducing formula and slowly start to wean over the next month. I admire those that have gone longer, but I just don’t see it happening.

  22. Courtney Mar 16 at 8:56 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks for this, and for the gold stars. I am a physician with a crazy schedule and went back to work full-time at 3 months. Pumping was going great (though admittedly a big pain) until 9 months when my supply plummeted for no obvious reason – in fact it happened as we were finishing a family vacation when she was nursing 24/7. I nursed her morning and night and pumped 3 times a day. I took fenugreek until I thought I would turn into a bottle of pancake syrup. No dice. My daughter got breast milk exclusively for 10 months, and I pumped up until
    12 months despite only getting 4 ounces a day at best. I know it is ridiculous, but I still feel guilty that we didn’t make it to 12 months with breast milk exclusively. Put away the pump 2 weeks ago (happily), and my daughter weaned herself off the night nursing session on her own last week. She still nurses in the morning, and I kiss her sweet warm head every morning and hold her extra close because I know this time is so short. Funny, because I never *loved* nursing per se, but there’s a big lump in my throat thinking of it being over.

  23. miriam Mar 17 at 9:02 am Reply Reply

    Just weaned last week– a day before she turned 9 mo. The whole last month was a struggle to try to keep up supply– feeding her every 2-3 hours during the day (unless I was at work then pumping 2-3 times and again before I went to bed– all for about 10 lousy oz for 4 sessions). Was supplementing even before I started formally weaning– she was eating very well so she wasn’t complaining but I think she was getting a little dehydrated (stinky wets!). Sure, the “mature milk” comes in then, but I really felt like I wasn’t making enough for her. (I do believe in the mature milk thing– she went from 3 mo to 6 mo and was drinking about the same amount per feed but less feeds and doubled in weight. Whereas I went from 6-8 oz a session to 3-4 oz when I pumped).
    Breastfeeding went well, weaning went well– she’s never been picky about food and would eat breastmilk or formula warm or right out of the fridge without complaining. I think that helps as well as all the adventures in eating different table foods and crawling around that are distracting her from anything as prosaic as where mommy’s boobs went.
    I have heard that much like one’s second labor is easier, the second time around with the boobs is better. Milk comes in earlier and less “omg my boobs are exploding and Ima drown the baby”– so I’ve heard.

  24. Kate Mar 17 at 9:48 am Reply Reply

    I’m another one who gave up pumping at work (when my daughter was 9 months old) but was able to nurse when I was with her until she was 13 months old. I hope moms-to-be who are reading realize it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
    I also found that I had much better let down with the Isis hand pump than my Ameda electric pump (which was great, by the way, and cheaper than the Pump in Style), and I would have relied on that for occasional bottles if I’d been a SAHM. It was perfect for a weekend away from my 12 month old when I was pumping (and dumping) to relieve pressure and keep up my supply.

  25. Melissa Mar 17 at 10:26 am Reply Reply

    Went back to work when the kid was 3.5 months and pumped until she was 11.5 months. At which point we introduced cows milk mixed with breastmilk.
    I pumped 2-3 times a day, depending on business and whatnot. At first, I didn’t mind. I had an office and a super-supportive boss. I produced enough to feed a small nation. But sometime around the 9 month mark I was just tired of it. By 10 months I wanted to drop-kick my pump out my 4th floor office window.
    I dropped one session per week and eventually weaned her at 16 months when I was DONE. OH SO VERY DONE.

  26. Anne Mar 17 at 1:17 pm Reply Reply

    It is great reading this post! I am a pumping mom right now. My little man came out ready to latch and nurse…I called him my boob-man. Fast forward 1 month – I ruptured a disc in my back – unable to nurse 20 days due to heavy HEAVY narcotic pain killers and back surgery. He took right back to the breast without a problem and then I went back to work…the bottle was SOOOO easy for him and he would get frustrated in the evening when my supply was not the highest. I cried a lot and then decided to go to the pump when I got home. We still nurse right before bed and then when he wakes up in the morning. I still love my nursing time with him. He gladly nurses at those times, but likes the bottle at home when there is the hustle and bustle of action. I am not looking forward to a business trip, 14 days, to Germany trying to figure out the pumping situation. I may have to wean him by 9 months to prevent any issues overseas.
    Thanks Amy, Love your work.

  27. ClumberKim Mar 17 at 1:36 pm Reply Reply

    With my first child I went back to work when he was 8 weeks old and I pumped three times a day in a freezing cold server closet (better than the bathroom, I guess) and it was always a struggle to produce enough for the next day.
    Awful as it was, I was lucky. I had breast reduction 3.5 years before my son was born and was told at the time breastfeeding was not going to be an option. I took huge amounts of fenugreek and blessed thistle, and ate more oatmeal than I ever thought possible.
    I was home with my daughter and rarely pumped. Such a difference.
    I don’t miss my pump one bit.

  28. laura Mar 17 at 2:31 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks for the gold stars. As an exclusive pumper of 6.5 months who wanted so desperately to breastfeed (if it weren’t for the flat nipples, thrush, plus everything else that could possibly go wrong), I often feel ashamed that I can’t nurse my beautiful little girl. I hope and pray every day that the next one will be different. Thanks also for the hope that history won’t repeat. While I do feel grateful that I’ve had the supply to provide for her, it has still been very upsetting at times to feel so different. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to see my efforts validated instead of being reprimanded for being second best.

  29. Jessi Mar 17 at 3:21 pm Reply Reply

    While it’s a pain, I’ve never regretting hauling my pump with me to work. It’s just something I grab in the morning now. I used to have a private office and was able to pump whenever I wanted. Now that I share an office, it’s more of a pain to head down to the room – I have to get the key. But I’m still 3x a day.
    Really, it’s such a short amount of time in my life and his; it’s already been nine months, what’s three more?
    When I hold him in front of me, I ask, “You hungry?” He looks down and smacks my chest. I’ll be pretty sad when that doesn’t happen anymore.

  30. kari Weber Mar 17 at 7:13 pm Reply Reply

    I am a teacher, with not a lot of privacy in my room. With my first, I tried to pump every day but was having a real hard time not being freaked out that someone would come into my room unannounced (at the time EVERYONES key unlocked everyone else’s door). I lasted 7 months of exclusively breast feeding and pumping. Then I got overwhelmed with the stress and gave it all up cold turkey. Regretted it ever since. Do over time! With my second, I told myself I would not stress about it at all. Ha! But I did stress less. I got a better pump (used- replaced all the parts) and got more time at home with my wee one before having to go back to teaching. Pumped when I remembered, gave a bit of formula around 4 or 5 months, and tried to pump at work again. I could only pump once a day at lunch, and then I felt like I was rushed to try to eat, and never got to see other teachers, since I spent all my time locked in my classroom. Had a few “rip the pump off my boobs and throw under the desk as the custodian let a child in without warning to get a forgotten lunch and forgot I was pumping” experiences. But, other than that no issues. Except… I just hated pumping. So I stopped. I send formula with him to babysitting each day, and exclusively nurse all other time, weekends, and vacations. Haven’t cracked my own can of formula yet. He is a big eater, and eats a TON of other solids, but I haven’t had any supply issues. Sometimes, things are just different each time. My son is now almost 11 months old (seems like a lot of us had babies around the same time last April!) and is in the 95% for weight and the 100% (!!!!) for height. He weighs about 25 pounds. Christ. Thanks Amalah! Love your stuff.

  31. Kat Eden Mar 18 at 2:12 am Reply Reply

    OMG that Avent pump gave me nothing but RSI! Evil!! I’ve been lucky with the Medela Swing Electric, pricy, but a godsend! I do most of my pumping first thing in the am, and when I get home from work again.

  32. Stacy Mar 18 at 2:42 pm Reply Reply

    I feel very lucky that other than the very first week of my daughters life, where I was stressed out and pumping and bottle feeding while we worked on some latching and pain issues… We nursed really well on a 3 hr round the clock schedule for 7 months. At which she decided to self wean.
    I did pump a couple times a day for the first 5 months, but I had a ton of frozen milk and she only had a bottle a few times a week (husband did some feeds) and I felt like I had enough and quit pumping. Of course when she refused the breast I went through that frozen milk pretty damn fast and of course could barely get anything from the pump after my 2 month hiatus. Sigh. Well we switched to formula and even though we were really hoping to save $$ by exclusively breastfeeding — 5 months of formula wasn’t the end of the world. She’s just now a year old and we will make the switch to milk. If I have another I will definitely do the same, breast as well as pumping and freezing but I won’t get lazy and stop. Yeah the pump sucks rocks, but if I have 2 kids it would really be nice to have the flexibility of the bottle as well as the breast.

  33. Liz Mar 18 at 2:43 pm Reply Reply

    I have a 3.5 month old, and he’s a great nurser. No problems there. But I bought a little hand pump and have had the hardest time getting any milk. When I first pumped it was no problem, but now I have the hardest time with letting down. So I feel your pain Amy! I just don’t get pumping. But nursing is awesome. I might put off working for as long as I can so that I don’t have to pump… luckily we can afford the lack of income for a little while longer.

  34. LauraL Mar 18 at 3:42 pm Reply Reply

    I nursed and pumped with my first and everything went well (dodging missiles being hurled). My second never, ever could nurse because of low muscle tone, but it was pretty important that he get the breastmilk. And, interestingly, I produced as much pumping exclusively as I did with nursing/pumping. I managed to keep it up until he was 16 months old or so. I tell you, the first day at work when I didn’t have to go into an office where I could pump and work, it was kind of surreal…
    Also, I’ve had those phantom let-down reflexes. Very comforted to know I’m not the only one!

  35. Jen & The Amazing Trips Mar 19 at 3:47 pm Reply Reply

    Despite several cases of mastitis, I pumped for my triplets the first few months of their lives. They had been born 10 weeks prematurely and were critically ill in the NICU. I felt so guilty that my body had failed them. And although I couldn’t control when they were born, I could control my ability to pump and provide them the best nutrition available. Once I stopped pumping, I nursed them until they were 16 months old. (I enjoyed nursing so much, I then went on to nurse their younger brother until he was 2.5!!)
    Here’s more of my triplet breastfeeding story: http://www.theamazingtrips.com/2007/03/breastfeeding-basics.html

  36. kdw Mar 19 at 7:26 pm Reply Reply

    I have been pumping exclusively for almost 11 months. Breastfeeding was the thing about motherhood that I was most looking forward to and I probably would have nursed as long as the kiddo would have wanted to. I tried so hard to breastfeed for the first few weeks, but even with visits from multiple lactation consultants in the hospital and at home, we could never get a good enough latch and the baby would scream and scream and claw at my breast because he was so hungry. I was also pumping so that we could feed him bottles of breastmilk and my nipples were shredded. I was crying all the time, feeling inadequate and overwhelmed, and got diagnosed with PPD at my 6 week visit. I finally took a break from my constant attempts to nurse and just kept up with pumping so my nipples would have a chance to heal. Pumping became less painful and I tried off and on to get my son to latch until I went back to work at 4 months. There were a few weeks in the fall when I nursed him when I got home and it was so lovely and I am so grateful for that experience. But then he got a couple of teeth…I’m sure if we were nursing more often, I could have trained him not to bite, but the teeth put an end to our nursing sessions. I have a love/hate relationship with the pump. I hate it, but I love what it has allowed me to do. I can’t wait to be free of it, but I get sad when I think about pumping for the last time.

  37. Landie Mar 22 at 12:13 pm Reply Reply

    I was an exclusive pumper. I’ve posted responses on this board a few times before, but I had a cardiac baby and those little dudes are waaay too weak to breastfeed. My son dropped a ton of weight after birth and could nurse for about 3 minutes before he would basically pass out from the effort.
    Thanks to the advice of my other mummy friends, I had purchased a Medela Pump-in-Style double barreled extravaganza…THANK GOD. Because of that pump, my milk supply stayed ridiculous (as in I gave bags of milk away to friends who were having issues with milk supply) and my son got breast milk until he was 10 months old.
    I wasn’t too keen on breastfeeding anyhow. If I ever have another. I will probably just pump and bottle feed. I liked it a lot better.

  38. Olivia Mar 23 at 8:12 am Reply Reply

    Jen, I am in awe! Nursing triplets!? Just wow.

  39. Michelle Mar 24 at 6:08 pm Reply Reply

    THANK YOU for your post!!! It is impossible to pump at work! And I work from home! I have absolutely no problems multi-tasking but when it comes to pumping, it just cannot be done! I am an exclusive low volume pumper. Let-down only comes with constant massaging of both boobs throughout the entire pumping duration of 45-60mins. Yeap, you read that correctly! Thank god my baby is not on breastmilk exclusively, she is a premmie and we have been supplementing with formula since day 1. I send her to daycare with formula, no way in hell am I letting them toss away any unfinished liquid gold! It is now almost 10 months postpartum and I am amazed I am still hanging in here. I am still hoping to make it to a year, wish me luck!

  40. professormama Mar 25 at 1:43 am Reply Reply

    The Avent Isis hand Pump can be great. I used it to pump when I went back to work 6 weeks postpartum and it was awesome, quick and comfortable, so it has worked for some of us. The electric Medela one I tried before was so painful. Everyone’s body is different.

  41. Mrs. Warde May 29 at 1:51 am Reply Reply

    WIC gave me one of those big blue beasts to use and WOW was that think the WORST! I completely believe in “pump trauma” and even my husband felt my pain.

    I never needed to pump with my first baby (SAHM) but #2 was born premature and was in the hospital for 2 months. I used the Medela pump they rented out and it worked fabulously for me. I knew I was going to have to go on some medications that weren’t safe to take while breastfeeding, so I placed the demand on my boobs and froze enough that I had 3 months worth saved up when I stopped pumping after 3 months of doing it.

    I’m currently pregnant with my 3rd (and last) and I’m hoping to pump at the same time as I breastfeed (tricking my body into thinking I’m feeding twins) and I really hope I can pump another extra 3 month’s worth of milk in the 3 months after having my baby.

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