27 December 2010

the bottle

So yeah, the bottle.

Today is a bottle only day from 9-3 or so... we are working up toward full days. It turns out I don't have enough banked in the freezer to do a full day since I started pumping once a day not for banking but for bottle feeding practice, and the amount I was pumping in the beginning was so small it is taking the output of 3 or 4 pumpings to make one feeding.

So... my strategy (guess there wasn't one) wasn't one. So hear me people of the pump-- before you do the pump/bottle only transition as if you are at work again, make sure you bank more than a day's worth so you can make the transition AND have some left over for emergencies. Or you can do the transition on formula.

A confession: I am hating it. The pumping is a little persnickety-- got a GREAT double pump (Medela Freestyle) on super sale. Used cones that were too small for the first month. Got bigger cones and felt a little better. If the flanges are not exactly right, there is no suction which is evil and you have to take it apart and reassemble. I was pumping in the morning, Doug offered a bottle to Della, then I would finish by nursing for a while-- this was a great bridge for both of us-- feeding via bottle then soothing via nursing for both baby and mom. Then we moved to bottles and no soothing in the morning feeding. And today, bottles, no soothing, and I hate not nursing. I miss feeding her. Snuggling. I hate what it means (to me at this time) which is work is about to begin again.

Two weeks from today I start back at work. I am not sure how many days a week or if I will have a job at all. But. But I am thinking about options that support my/our highest and best, trying to imagine balancing our very real need for financial income with my very real need to not be drained emotionally and with my consuming desire for more time with Della. And I might get laid off anyway. So. I am just not enjoying this.

In fairness, I have a pre-existing hate relationship with pumping because of my experience in the hospital (no milk at all) then at home trying to increase my supply. It made me feel like a failure to see so little milk (or no milk) in those bottles after pumping. God. I hate it. It made me feel like I was failing at One More Thing. Damn IF sets us up for this incremental self (esteem) destruction. Everything that does not work easily or well or at all feels so symbolic. Gah. Add baby screaming while feeding at the breast and not screaming at all while taking the bottle and.... yeah.

Now taking fenugreek and blessed thistle, drinking mother's milk tea. reading the book Making More Milk which is excellent but hard to read (It should have caveats like: THIS IS REALLY HARD, and THIS IS TEMPORARY).

For all of you who have fought your way through to your own conclusion about this thorny issue, I hear you. This is one of the thorniest.


heather said...

so i know your practice is helping you work towards full days of bottle-feeding... but it's important to feel happy during this transition time too. will there still be some days when you're back to work (like weekends) when you'll be home all day with della? if so, use those days to breastfeed all day and skip the bottles (or just have your hubby do one bottle to keep her in practice). and maybe ease up on the practicing a little bit for now. if you've got her taking a couple of bottles per day, she'll do just fine when you're back at work full time. for now, enjoy a little more breastfeeding time with her, if that makes you both feel happy and better. once you're back to work, it will help your supply if you have some full days of breastfeeding thrown in there on the weekends (or whenever it works). and the cuddles and snuggles and breastfeeding will do wonders for your soul during tough times. i mean, if you're okay with all of that, that is. i wish you luck! your baby is adorable.

Emily Erin said...

What made me able to survive pumping was a pumping bra that made it so that over my lunch break I could close my door and have my hands free (I got mine off e-bay). It also really helped to do something mindless in the evenings when I had a longer break between feedings (I'd put her down around 6 or 6:30 for the night and then she would sleep until around 11). At say 8:30 or 9, I'd watch Law and Order (or other brainless activity) and then the pumping wasn't so miserable because I could basically ignore it. Research shows that we produce more milk when we're not focused on it/feeling like a failure if we're not making much. I would only pump for one show and I knew it would be over in 45 minutes (I love instant watch). I stored up my 1-2 ounces from those feedings, and on stretches where she slept for longer sometimes I'd get more than that. Any time I was able to get milk at all I tried to look at it as a success. While I didn't have to use formula, I finally came to terms/peace with the fact that it is NOT poison and as a stop gap measure worked to allow me to not feel crazy stressed and her not feel hungry. There are lots of women who go straight to formula and their children are _just fine_.

But you are right, *THIS IS HARD* whenever a friend tells me that she's breastfeeding, I try to let them know that it's hard and that pumping is the bane of every working mother's experience. I have yet to meet a working Mom who is excited about pumping. You'll be surprised when you *do* go actual days where she doesn't nurse how much you _are_ making during the feedings. I also agree with PP, if you have 2 weeks before you go back, don't make yourself miserable, work in a feeding or two-- it'll keep your spirits up and you will always produce more milk for Della than for a pump. I'm cheering for you!

Rebecca said...

This may be something you already do (or don't need to), but I found that if I could manually get my milk to let down before putting the pump on my nipples, it really helped with getting a better supply from that pumping session. Maybe something to try?

Is there any way that you could get Doug to bring Della to your workplace once a day? Or go home for lunch? I did that when I first went back to work and it helped me emotionally deal with the transition a lot better.

Michele said...

Have you tried More Milk Plus? Or More Milk Special Blend? http://www.motherlove.com/category/breastfeeding.html They are herbal and did wonders for me.

What IF? said...

So good to read an update - have been thinking of you and Della a lot. A few thoughts:

The Exclusively Pumping forum is a great resource, even if you're not EPing: http://forums.ivillage.com/ivillage/?category.id=iv-ppexcluspump#iv-ppexcluspump-64

I found it such a valuable resource to read everyone's struggles and victories, and stumbled upon many tips.

For example:
Use a drop of olive oil to lubricate the cones.

If you pump longer than 15 minutes, you'll most likely have a 2nd letdown = bigger yield.

Once a week, watch an hourlong show and pump for 10 minutes, stop for 10, pump for 10, stop for 10, etc. This mimics cluster feedings and increases milk supply.

Milk supply is usually bigger first thing in the morning, so if output is important to you, try to pump then.

In addition to all the stuff you're already doing, I found guzzling water while pumping helped as did reading/watching anything relaxing that would take my mind off the pumping.

It *is* hard, but you can do it.

Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

It is SO hard.

Similar to WhatIF?'s suggestion of lubricating with olive oil, I used lanolin (must be Medela brand, the others are the wrong consistency) to lubricate. A really good dollop of lanolin, more than you think you need. Made a huge difference.

Because of my own catastrophic supply problems, I actually liked the pump -- at least I knew how much there was. Plus, because my preemies never mastered nursing, I felt like at least the pump knew what to do and wouldn't flail or cry.

When it was time to return my rental pump to the hospital, I literally kissed it goodbye.

Good luck with the job situation and the transition.

Kate said...

I switched to exclusively pumping. There's a group on babycenter as well.
Is there any way you can get on domperidone? I'm still taking that.
I wish you weren't having to deal with these struggles too...

linda said...

Going back to work right now has got to be really hard to do...I know that if I had a child it would be hard for me, too. I like the one suggestion of trying to see Della at lunch to do a midtime feeding...not sure if that's possible for you logistically speaking. I don't know what it is that you do for a living but if it's at all possible to work from home a bit, perhaps that will ease the transition back?

B. said...

I have to echo others' comments... lanolin in the cones lubes things up and makes it a lot more comfortable. Or at least less UNcomfortable.

I hope you aren't over-worrying or stressing over this (I know, it's hard not to). You'll be pumping while Della is bottle-fed, so you really only need a day or two supply ahead of time. Then, if you work in one extra pumping session every day (even when you nurse), you'll accumulate enough to keep Della satisfied. It took me a few weeks to get to maximum production, and it might take you a while too.

As for the heartache of leaving your baby... again, what someone else said. Maybe Doug can bring her to your work every day, or every other day or when the weather and roads aren't too bad? I chose a daycare that was just 4 miles from my office so I could sneak away and feed Charlotte every day. I could not have left her otherwise. And, while I did not pump as much at work as she consumed at daycare, I would pump before bed each night and come close to making enough milk in one day as she needed the next day. Then, I topped off the bottles from what I'd pumped over the weekend.

It'll work. You'll make it work. It's very very hard, but you've proven again and again that you're tenacious and resourceful. Della's a lucky baby to have you for a mom.

Emily Erin said...

Also, for what it's worth, a friend of mine who is an MD said that while breastfeeding for the first 6 months or year are ideal, it's really the first 6 weeks that are critical, and you've already done that, so you should feel successful!

Anonymous said...

Since I'm usually reading from my phone I can't comment!
I am pumping exclusivly while my boys get big enough to try nursing, so I feel like an expert at something!
Pumping bra is a must--you can make one from a sports bra (I found that compression actually made my breasts easier to work with--but mine are HUGE, so floppiness is an issue). Also, I'd search around on youtube and see if you can find any videos on doing manual compressions during pumping. Essentially, you feel around on your breasts and find either full or some what nobby parts and press on them. Increases flow like crazy. Also, I couldn't really use the conventional flanges, so I found these on line, and the lactation consultant at the hospital was extremely impressed: