Friday, October 14, 2016

Seven Tips For Exclusively Breast Pumping

Thank you to everyone who commented on yesterday's post about my initial struggles with breastfeeding and my decision to exclusively pump.  I was shocked at how many women have had similar stories!  I wanted to share a few tips that I've found to be helpful throughout this process.  I've learned a lot throughout the last four months, and the key for me is keeping it as convenient as possible.  Here are my seven tips for exclusively pumping:

Tips for Exclusive Breast Pumping

1.  Invest in a good quality pump- I can say with 100% confidence that I wouldn't have made it this far if I didn't have a good pump.  When I found out I was pregnant I went through the process to get a free pump through insurance, and received the Medela Pump In Style.   Around the same time my sister in law offered to let me borrow her Medela Freestyle.  At that point I thought all breast pumps were created equally, but boy was I wrong.   The Freestyle is battery powered (rechargeable batteries) so I'm able to go anywhere with it.  I pump in the car (as a passenger) all the time.  The pump mechanism is small, and even has a belt clip, so that you can pump and move around at the same time.  Before I had Thompson, the thought of using someone else's breast pump really weirded me out.  But after using one, I realized it's basically just the motor that's being reused.  I purchased all new tubing and parts so that anything that actually touches my body and my milk is brand new.   If you don't want to shell out the big bucks for a pump, you can also rent one through the hospital.  The hospital grade pumps are even more powerful, and I've heard great things about them.  If mine ever bites the dust, I'll definitely look into a hospital rental (I think they are around $80 a month). While the free pump I received through insurance isn't the best, I still would advise anyone to go ahead and request one through their insurance company if it's going to be covered at 100%.  It's comforting to know that I have a backup just in case I ever need it.

2.  Buy a hands free pumping bra- After reading tons of reviews, I purchased this bra through Amazon and I've been really pleased with it.   I have the pink but I'd recommend buying the black one.  Even with regular washing, the pink one starts to look a little dingy after a while.  Using this allows me to be totally hands free when I'm pumping, so I'm always able to multitask. Plus, I think the added compression it gives helps me pump more milk.

3.  Get a good nursing cover- I mentioned above that I pump in the car a lot.  If T and I are taking a car trip that's more than 20 minutes, I plan to pump while I'm riding.  It's a great way to save time and make use of that otherwise wasted time in the car.  This stretchy nursing cover makes it so much more discreet, plus it can also be used as a car seat cover and a shopping cart cover, too.  Several different brands make these, but I love that this particular one is Prime Eligible on Amazon.

4. Stay hydrated- I'm pumping anywhere between 30 and 40 ounces of milk a day, which means I'm losing a lot of fluid.  Staying hydrated is the best way to keep milk production up.   I sip on decaffeinated tea, water, and gatorade, and bring a 32 oz tumbler of water with me to bed each night. I prefer a Swell bottle or a Yeti cup so that my water stays ice cold throughout the night.

5.  Purchase reusable breast pads- File this under things no one ever told me about before baby.  I had no clue that wearing breast pads would be an everyday requirement.  These ones on Amazon are leak proof, which is really important for the first few months while you're supply is still regulating.  If you don't get the leak proof ones, you may end up in a situation as depicted by the picture below.  How embarrassing.  I now stick to dark colored and printed tops only.

6.  Buy lots of extra bottles and pump parts- At any given time I usually have 3-4 bottles of milk in the fridge, 3-4 that need washing, and a few clean ones that I can use throughout the day.  I wash bottles and bottle parts once per day, so it's really helpful to have several extras on hand.  We use these because they work with my pump, but really any bottles will do.  

7.  Stock up on extra parts and bottle cleaning/sanitizing supplies- It's a great idea buy an extra set of pump parts, that way you won't have to wash them constantly throughout the day.  Pro Tip- after you use your pump parts they can be stored in the refrigerator until the next use.   This will keep them from growing bacteria, and you don't have to wash them after each use.  I do this throughout the day and wash everything once at night.  I usually sanitize parts every other day, using the Medela Sanitizing Bags. Using these bags is much easier than having to boil everything, just pop it in the bag, microwave for 3 minutes, and it's done.  My favorite bottle brush is the Oxo Tot Bottle Brush.  It's bristles are really soft and flexible, so it doesn't spray all over you when you pull the brush out of the bottle.  That is my biggest pet peeve.  And for feeding bottles, we really like the Dr. Brown's Options bottles.  They are great because you don't have to use the vent if you don't want to.  Less parts to clean if your baby ends up not needing that vent down the road.  If you're looking at buying these, go ahead and buy the 8 oz bottles, rather than the smaller 4 oz ones.  You'll only be able to use those 4 oz ones for feeding for the first couple of months, and then they're useless.  I'd also recommend getting the narrow bottles because they can hook right up to your breast pump, and the Medela caps fit on the top of them.  It's nice being able to interchange the caps and nipples as needed.

If you have any other tips or product suggestions for me, please do share!  I'd love to know what has worked for you.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Bad and The Ugly

Last night I had dinner with a few of my Greenville blogger friends, and it really made me miss the days when I was blogging more regularly.  Having a baby and owning a business definitely keep me busy, but blogging has always been something that I've enjoyed.  I love looking back at old posts, it's so great to have such a detailed diary of these past years of my life.  Just last week T was headed to New York for work, and asked about a place that we ate when we were there years ago.  I sifted through the archives and was able to tell him exactly where we went and what we ordered.  I just love having a record like that of the past.  I don't mean to loosely quote Ferris Bueller here, but life moves so fast that you tend to forget the little details of each day. Having a written record of the first years of our marriage, my pregnancy, and life with our new baby are absolutely priceless.

It feels so easy to write about all the good things that are happening in my life.  Sharing the pretty pictures and the great things that are happening in our life right now.  And, I'm so lucky to say that those good things definitely outweigh the not-so-good.  But, just like everybody else,  we have our fair share of the bad and the ugly, too.  Just this week I was talking to a friend about how the first few days after having a baby are the hardest.  Everyone told me how bad labor pains can be, and what my healing process would be like, but they failed to inform me how tough those first few days after baby can be.   You're exhausted, in pain, and loopy from pain meds.  Yet, you're expected to keep this new little baby alive.  The baby's screaming, you're crying, and your husband is looking at both of you with a helpless look on his face.  And, on top of all of that, the only way to get your baby to stop screaming is to breastfeed, which no one at the hospital really told you how to do.

(This picture in no way truly shows the ugly that I'm referring to.  In reality its much, much messier, uglier, and at least two out of the three of us are covered in spit up.)

While I was still pregnant, another one of my new mom friends told me she'd rather give birth twice than have to go through the first 2 weeks of breast feeding.  At that point, I thought she was crazy.  And now, I totally get it.

Whether it was error on my part or truly a baby who didn't want to latch, I will never know, but feeding from the breast was just not for us.  Maybe it will be for a future baby, but for Thompson and I, it just wasn't going to happen.  Those first few days I would just dread feeding him, it was painful, and he nursed for what seemed like forever.  In reality it was probably close to 30-45 minutes, but when they are eating every two hours (meaning two hours from when they started eating) you feel like you're constantly nursing.  A few days after he was born Thompson had his frenulum clipped because he was tongue tied, and we hoped that would help. We tried nipple shields to help with the latch and the pain, but then our dog George ate BOTH of the ones that I had.  I reached my breaking point when I was feeding him in the middle of the night and bawling from the pain, screaming to my husband through the tears "We're going to have a formula baby! I can't do this for one second longer!"

I have no issues what-so-ever with formula feeding.  I know the topic among moms is somewhat controversial, but I'm of the mindset that every mom should do what is best for her and for her baby.  And that looks different for everybody.  We may even decide down the road to make the switch to formula, I just don't know at this point what the future will hold.  I really wanted to make breast feeding work for me and Thompson for the first several months.  My body was producing the milk, so I wanted to be able to use what my body was making.  The challenge for me was just getting that milk into my baby's body.  That same night that I reached my breaking point, I went downstairs and filled a bottle with pumped milk I had in the refrigerator.  Thompson took it like a champ, and we never looked back.   I've now been exclusively pumping for over 4 months now, and that has been what works best for us, for now.

We hit a little speed bump this month with the development of a dairy allergy.  I now eat a pretty much dairy free diet, and after trying that for two weeks his tummy issues have finally cleared up.  (You can read a little more about that in this post)  I'm so glad that we found out what the issue was, but I have to admit it did just about kill me to have to get rid of the stash of over 300 ounces of frozen milk I had worked so hard to build up.  I was able to donate it though, so it didn't have to go to waste.

I plan to publish a separate post either later today or tomorrow with a few tips I've found helpful throughout the last four months of exclusively pumping.  There are a few items I couldn't live without.  I've had to make this process as convenient as possible so that I wasn't ever tempted to stop.

So while this post isn't for everyone, I hope it may resonate with somebody.  When I was making the decision to exclusively pump, I didn't find many resources out there to read about other women's experiences.  And selfishly, I'm writing all of this down because I'll probably forget it in several years when I have another little one.  If you have any questions what-so-ever about what I have done to make this work for us, please don't hesitate to ask!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Thompson is 4 Months

Our sweet boy is now four months old.   He is now 16.3 lbs (64th percentile) and measures 25" long (39th percentile).  Thankfully his body has caught up with his head which is now in the 59th percentile, down from the 90th.  He's now rolling from back to front and front to back, and absolutely loves to jump in his Jumperoo.

Right at the three month mark, Thompson started having tummy issues.  We were at the beach on family vacation when it all started.  And when it came, it came on strong.  I'll spare you the details, but suddenly I went from changing one dirty diaper a day to about 12-15.   After several trips to the pediatrician and running tests, we came to the conclusion that he has a dairy allergy.  Since he is still exclusively receiving breast milk, I needed to cut out all dairy from my diet.  We're now three weeks into eating dairy free, and finally things are back to normal.  Cutting all dairy out of my diet has definitely been a challenge, but it's been good for us.  I've had cut out a lot of processed foods, and we're eating more of a clean diet these days.  I do really miss pizza and ice-cream though...oh, and real milk in my coffee.

While I haven't felt or seen any teeth breaking through his gums, he's well on the way to teething.  Drooling like crazy and chewing on everything.  His favorite things to chew on are Sophie the Giraffe and Nuby Teether Keys.  I also switched him from a Nuk pacifier to a MAM paci because they don't have a hook (he uses that to pull it out of his mouth), and they are more breathable on his skin.  

He's now wearing mostly 6 month clothes, but still manages to squeeze into a few 3 month outfits.  His torso is so long though, and I'm afraid he may outgrow a lot of his 6 month outfits before the fall is over.  I remember holding 6 month clothing up when he was a newborn and thinking that it looked SO big.  I just can't believe he's already fitting in them.  I bought this Sherpa Lined Vest for him the other week, and cannot wait to see him in it.  Never thought I'd get so excited about baby boy clothing. 

With every month, Thompson's personality starts to show more and more. His food allergy hasn't effected his attitude at all.  He's still the sweet happy giggly baby that he was before all this came about.  I can't wait to see what new developments come about in this next month!

See previous month updates for Thompson below. 

One Month | Two Months | Three Months

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