Tuesday, September 16, 2008


A pumping mom is not far removed from those of a bovine variety.

Let's think about it. I have tubing and horns attached to my udders (okay, we call them nipples and areolas in these parts) as suction stimulates the flow of milk at mid-tempo. Even the pump motor taunts me with a continuous soft, slow "moo" .

I have to hand it to exclusive pumpers. Breastfeeding isn't exactly a picnic but it seems so much easier now that I'm in my groove. No bottles, valves, membranes or flutes to wash. No need to remember storage guidelines or watch the clock as you follow a rigid pumping schedule. Breastmilk fresh from the tap is always at the perfect temperature and requires practically no cleanup, aside from my overactive letdown that gags Little Man and sprays him in the face if he should suddenly pull off. You know that carnival game where you squirt the water at the bullseye to see who can reach the top the fastest? Yeah, well I could be a champ and I don't even need the gun.

When pumping, I find myself eyeballing the drops. Counting the ounces. Cheering on the boobies. I turn it into a competition. Which boob will give the most milk in the fastest time? Lefty is almost always the winner so I find myself rooting for underdog Righty. After a feed, I can usually get about 2-3 oz. but I've gotten as much as 6 oz. when Nate only fed off Righty and Lefty was engorged (the things I get excited about these days...). My little piggie eats about 3-5 oz. from the bottle now so I need to do a good bit of pumping to provide 4 bottles on those days I will be working in the office.

For me, the scheduling is the hardest part. Nate falls asleep after almost every feed so it is hard to put him down and pump immediately. He is clingy and needs to be held ALOT. If he wakes up shortly after I put him down, he wants to dream feed to soothe himself back to sleep. In other words, I top him off so he gets that much more milk drunk. His feeds can be so sporadic (one boob vs. two, 1 hour vs. 3 hours apart) that it makes it hard to predict a safe time to pump. I don't want to pump and then have only an appetizer if he decides to wake up demanding a 4-course meal. Needless to say, I don't have much of a stash built up for when I return to work next week. But I'm hoping to correct that problem this week. I've been drinking Gatorade left and right (the electrolytes can boost your supply!) and I'm considering getting some Mother's Milk Tea to help me out temporarily. I am not opposed to supplementing with formula, if needed, but I really want to avoid it if I can and stick with exclusive breastmilk.

It's just hard to manage all of the details and I'm hoping that, like everything else, it will get easier and more predictable as time goes on.

BTW: No more nursing strikes so far. Whew. And he is now taking a bottle quite willingly when we offer it. Go figure.


eggorchicken said...

Ooooh I'm so glad to hear you seem to have won the breast/bottle war! Good going Mom! :) My daughter successfully mastered both, but James never mastered the art of drinking from a bottle. At 15 months it's still only breast, straw-cup or sippy cup. *sigh* ;)

How are you feeling about your impending return to work??


Kim said...

Yay for getting into a good groove!

I hear ya on the counting the drops.. that's all that I had, literally. I was lucky to get one ounce combined after 30 mins and a hospital grade pump. It really is exhausting to keep up with. There were a few times in the NICU when I was really ready to commit myself.

Emily said...

oh, the pumping. I am thankful i'm done with that part. I couldn't help but stare at the milk going into the bottle.

You are doing a great job, kris. It's hard, hard work but I promise it is worth it in the end. Keep it up!

Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

I often feel like my day is spent planning around the pump. It stinks, but I think Lemy has a tooth coming in or at least budding so our BF days are numbered. For supply, you can try Fenugreek. I take four capsules a day & I think its helped. Esp since I've already had a period which can hurt your supply. Good luck and let me know if the gatorade works! :) ((HUGS))

Blankenship Babbles said...

You crack me up woman :) Your udderly delightful!!!!