I always wanted a natural birth but it wasn’t meant to be - I had a ruptured uterus early on in a previous pregnancy, so c-sections seem to be necessary for me. And I’m okay with that, at least I can still carry a child. I also didn’t get to breastfeed with my son for more than, oh, maybe a month – once per day if even that. If I was lucky. He was a preemie, and tube fed at first and is a special needs child. He has Down Syndrome and has the most unique amazing story to tell . . . but that’s a whole other seizures/nutrition story! LOL Anyway . . boy have I learned a lot! How to stand up to the NICU nurses . . . and that women can pump long term if breastfeeding doesn’t work out (no thanks to the NICU nurses there - UGH!!!). Even the pediatrician didn’t think I could make it pumping for more than a couple months.
I hope you'll enjoy her helpful hints here and there are mothers out there that will find her story encouraging. Thanks, Anne, for allowing me to share your story.
· If you choose to buy a used pump, get the suction tested before you commit to buy!
· Keep spare pump parts on hand. The membranes/valve assemblies DO wear out and should be changed every 3 months to keep the suction at its best.
· For working Mama’s, most workplaces are required to provide a private place for you to pump. Check your state laws and with your employer.
· You DO need to pump every 3 hours around the clock, for 15 – 20 minutes per session for the first 6 – 8 weeks. No skipping sessions. This establishes your supply just as breastfeeding does.
· Same as breastfeeding, be aware that what you eat affects your baby and you may need an elimination diet depending on your baby’s dietary needs.
· Learn the proper way to hand express milk from your breasts, and do so after every pumping session to fully empty your breasts as possible. In an emergency situation (like forgetting your pump AND stored milk at home and your baby is hungry!) you can hand express what your baby needs.
· Always keep a spare bottle/nipple in the diaper bag. If you aren’t afraid to breastfeed in public, be warned, there are times you may need to pump and/or hand express in public.
· You CAN exclusively pump long term. It just takes a time commitment.
· Keep up on your calories and fluid intake! This is not the time to worry about your weight or figure. Your body needs the extra calories and fluids to produce milk.
· You may become obsessed with the amount of breastmilk you produce . . . nursing Mama’s don’t get to see the amount their baby eats, but you do. Try not to get over-obsessed with it.
· As your baby grows, your supply will naturally diminish. It is typical to lose a little supply around the 6 – 9 month period, then again in the 9 – 12 month period. As your baby begins to eat solids, they will eventually need less breastmilk so although it can be saddening, it really is okay to see your supply decrease.
· Stress can diminish your supply, especially emotional stress. While it’s near impossible to avoid such situations, you can be aware in advance that you will need to take extra care of yourself during these times by practicing relaxation techniques and not skipping meals. Especially not skipping meals.
· There are herbal supplements you can try if your milk supply isn’t what you’d like. Mother’s Milk tea, fenugreek, blessed thistle, and fennel are just to name a few.
· There are internet forums just for EP’ing Mama’s, I recommend joining one for encouragement and support.
Two other friends will be sharing their stories over the next few weeks, too. Alisa pumped for her son born with a severe cleft palate/lip, and Mellanie will be sharing her story of breastfeeding her daughter born with Kabuki Syndrome. Both are touching and inspiring stories I hope you will enjoy. I know these stories are near and dear to these mother's hearts and I appreciate their willingness to share them here.