Monday, March 31, 2008

No More Pump and Circumstance

I'm done with pumping!! Hooray!!!!

At the Pumpkin's 1 year doctor appointment, the doctor okayed putting her on whole milk. I don't plan to stop nursing, but I am more than happy to stop pumping. In fact, I had planned to pump once a day for one last week (the week after her doctor's appointment, about two weeks ago), but I didn't make it.

I was just so done with it. She easily transitioned to (organic) cow milk for the two bottles she takes during the day to go down for her naps. I still nurse her in the mornings when she gets up, at night to go to sleep, and really any other time she wants when I'm around her. I (or Londo) have been giving her cow milk bottles for her naps on the weekends, but that's mainly to give me a break and make sure she is getting enough milk since my supply has gone down during the day.

I love nursing her. It's been an incredible bonding experience. I could really go on and on about how important it's been for us and how wonderful... but that's a different post. This is about my experience pumping.

Disclaimer: Pumping was not pretty on my breasts, so any men (or women) who don't want to hear about it should stop reading now. I might be a little too graphic for some.

Prior to returning to work when the Pumpkin was just over 3 months old, I pumped here and there in order to build up enough milk for her to take three bottles the first day I went to work. This part went okay, although it was not easy to try and find time to pump. I did it and then went back to work where I would pump enough milk for the next day (and sometimes a bit more... sometimes a bit less).

I have been very fortunate in my experience with my company. Unlike other people's companies, my company is extremely supportive of breastfeeding and working moms in general. It's not just lip service, either. All major offices in my area have a Mother's Room. The one in my office was fantastic! It had a sink and fridge in it, different types of chairs, a good size table, a phone and a working internet cable. No windows and a locked door. In addition, when I went back to work, I was the only woman using the room, so I was able to set it up just the way I liked it and not share or anything.

That is where the good part of this story ends. Because although the set up was great, the pumping itself did not go so great. My main issues began the very first time I pumped and continued after I went back to work.

The pumping hurt. The pump sucked in my nipples, rubbing them raw on the sides. After talking with people and researching online, I thought the problem must be with the size of the sheilds. So I bought bigger sheilds. It turns out that those sheilds were not helping too much. So I bought the biggest sheilds. They helped some, but still my nipples were getting raw and cracked from rubbing the plastic edges inside the sheild. Having dealt with thrush in the early months, I was really worried about cracked nipples leading to another bout with thrush. Plus, once the nipple cracked, it would take forever to heal--especially because it would re-open the next time I had to pump.

A friend of mine mentioned a different type of pump that uses soft, pliable sheilds. I wasn't ready to spend the money on a new pump when I'd spent so much already on my Advanced Pump In Style (with the super cute bag!). But that gave me an idea of what to look for, and sure enough I found soft shields for my pump! This really seemed to solve my problem.

But the other issue that went hand in hand with the sheild issue was that I could only use my pump on the lowest setting. If I turned it up even a little, my nipples would start cracking again. So I would use the lowest setting, sitting in the Mother's Room, working (and reading mommy blogs) for 45 minutes to an HOUR three. times. a day!!! This was a significant amount of time to be away from my desk. But my coworkers (mostly men) knew where I was and what I was doing, and they understood and worked with me. We could communicate through email, our company's IM and through the phone. They were good about scheduling meetings around my times up there, and if they couldn't find me in my office, they'd shoot me an email saying to find them when I was done. No one gave me a hard time about what I was doing or how often or how long. I felt very supported by my coworkers and company.

But spending three hours a day in a room that wasn't my office caused me considerable juggling in scheduling and managing work and people.

There was more good... I was able to keep my supply up pretty well for most of the time. And once the Pumpkin was well on solid foods (probably around month 8), I went down to pumping only twice a day, but still 45-60 minutes each time. I had planned to just keep pumping after she turned one, but the thought of continuing made me want to cry. The time it took and the physical pain it was for me just wasn't worth it anymore.

The Pumpkin is over 12 months old, and I'm proud to say that she has never had a drop of formula*. She still nurses, and we have no plans to stop that yet. But I am very thankful to the cows who make it possible for me to stop. And I'm so very thankful to be done with pumping!

*I don't think there is anything wrong with formula, but this is still an achievement I'm proud of because of what I went through to make it happen.

13 comments:

limboland la la said...

Hey, what kind of pump did your friend use. and what were her laments or "celebrations"? Maybe you could have a little review session with this one?

OneTiredEma said...

Your company and coworkers sound amazing, but mostly the achievement is YOU! :-) Congrats!

I think long term pumping is definitely the worst part of being a committed breastfeeder--most people I know heave a huge sigh of relief at 12-13-14 months or whenever they hang it up.

My kids have also never had formula, something I'm very proud of--formula has its place for many, many moms & babies, but basically I got really lucky :-)

Becoming Mommy said...

Congrats!
Our new pediatrician okayed Sasha for whole milk at his 9mo, but I'm holding off.
And that's too bad about the pumping. I found it much nicer to pump than nurse Chabo the Wolfbaby (Sasha, AKA Jaws, AKA Landshark, AKA Sunny Baudelaire).But still really inconvenient. I'll be glad when we're done.

BrooklynGirl said...

Congratulations! That's great.

Rudyinparis said...

Congratulations! It is quite an accomplishment. I still look back on the amount of time I spent pumping with both my girls and think, yikes, am I ever glad that's over! It truly is hard work and requires real commitment. I'm proud that I slogged through as best as I could. I think the challenges of breastfeeding and working are enormous--even with an ideal environment like you describe (and which sounds remarkably similar to the Mother's room at my work). You rock!

BisBink said...

Congrats!

"I am very thankful to the cows who make it possible for me to stop." ~ LOL.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

I have chosen to block all memories of the actual pumping experience from my brain. The only way I'll ever do it again is if I forget the pain, the constant struggles to get enough milk, and the never-ending hassle. Sure, it's (more or less) worth it, but WOW does it suck. Good grief, I sure do not miss being hooked up to that contraption upwards of five hours per day seven days per week. At all.

Dang! Those were some great accommodations. Your company deserves a ton of kudos for doing the ethical thing.

Congratulations on making it all the way! Now make sure you leave the pump somewhere that you can give it the evil eye from time-to-time, or maybe kick it. Mine is in our garage for just that purpose!

Cloud said...

Congrats! I don't have the problems you had pumping, but I'm looking forward to tapering it off. Pumpkin turns one on Saturday. We'd like to introduce cow's milk now, but had to delay our original plans due to a bout of diarrhea. Sigh. Regardless, she's not a good enough eater to let me completely stop pumping yet. As long as she's getting some breast milk during the day, I don't worry so much about her often poor food intake.

In case anyone finds this blog looking for help on pumping pain- try lanolin (the same stuff you rub on your nipples when they are sore). It was a big help to me early on. You basically grease up the bits of the shields that are going to contact your nipples. I don't have to do this anymore, but I did in the early days.

caramama said...

Thanks everyone!

And the lanolin!!! Oh, yes, the lanolin! Bisbink is the one who originally suggested I use it, and it really did help.

My Buddy Mimi said...

It's odd how you end up having this relationship with a machine. I would pump in my office, which didn't have a lock, but I would prop my chair against the door to keep anyone from accidentally walking in. My biggest relief afterwards was actually being able to go out to lunch and socialize with coworkers, recuping all that time had been sucked into breaks for pumping.

ImpostorMom said...

limboland la la: I'm that friend and I used the pj's comfort jr pump made by limerick inc. They are a company that originally focused on workplace lactation programs. I lucked out and got the pump on ebay for a fraction of the retail cost.

It is a multi-user, hospital grade pump and I fully believe that it helped me achieve 9 months of pumping. It has soft silicone cups that collapse to mimic the baby's mouth and you can adjust the suction and volume to mimic your own baby's rhythm. I really cannot rave about this pump enough. They are incredibly expensive now and I have to say that it would still be worth every penny if I had to buy another one.

as for lanolin, i'm actually allergic to it so it made any issue I had worse. Since it is derived from wool and wool makes me itch like crazy. I ended up using good ole breast milk to cure any of my ailments from breastfeeding.

Kristina said...

Thanks for posting about this, my sister just gave birth and I emailed the information to her. I really want to help her to stick with breastfeeding & all information is helpful. PS I am getting Pumpkin withdrawl, we need to visit soon!! My man said she was so cute last weekend!

Shellie said...

You're so lucky you have such a great job. I would be so over it too. Even nursing, eventually. As much as you don't want to lose that bond, you are so ready to be over it, like you just.cant.keep.doingit!