My Journey with Breastfeeding & Pumping
I’m both thrilled (feeling accomplished) and happy to say this is my final week of breastfeeding. It’s been a long and sometimes emotionally draining journey to feeding our little one. My path to getting to this marker was a goal I set for myself right after Evie was born. While I know 3 months may not seem like a long time to most, it definitely was for me. First off let me say that being a freshly minted mom, every mother’s feeding journey differs. There's no wrong or right way to feed your baby - breast, bottle, or formula - they all work! In this post I’ll share my experience with latching, breastfeeding, and using the Spectra pump.
From the get-go, as in the first day in the hospital, Evie was able to latch. Our first chest-to-chest interaction was a magical one and it truly solidified from there that I would continue to try and breastfeed her. This was also something I had planned on even before giving birth. I knew I wanted to also be able to pump when I wasn’t feeding so I could begin to build up my supply and also have Kevin help with bottle feedings. That first evening in the hospital was a learning experience (more about that here) and I had issues getting her to latch on. Even more so it wasn’t comfortable for me. She was latching incorrectly and my nipples were taking the brunt of it. As if raw and bleeding nipples aren’t enough of a wake-up call into breastfeeding my side of anxiety certainly was.
I was beyond nervous after that first day that she’d never learn to latch and thus I’d be in pain. Our midwife recommended we do a follow-up with a lactation consultant after our check-up to see if she could help ease the transition and get Evie to latch properly. All I’ll say is it was a HORRIBLE experience. Our consultant was truly a miserable human being and I left both (yes two) appointments in tears. I was a wreck and running on little to no sleep those first two weeks. I will say that I’m proud of myself for pushing past the tears and my own feelings and continuing. It did get better, but it was never that wonderful experience I had read about on countless other mommy blogs. Each time I’d sit down to pump or nurse Evie I would get a wave of anxiety that made my heart race and hands tingle. Normally, it would happen in the first 5-8 minutes and pass when I was almost done.
I explained my feelings with family and close friends and was able to get plenty of support during that time. I think another thing that plagued this anxious feeling is the environment I pumped in. So often I’d be in a room, alone, with my anxiety, scrolling Instagram (THIS IS NOT IDEAL!) After recently talking with a girlfriend who had a completely different experience, I know now that I kind of set myself up for feeling alone. She (my friend) said she used this time as an escape and would set her self up to read a book or watch one of her favorite shows. THIS is what I should have been doing - NOT looking at social media. The good thing about getting into a breastfeeding routine, is that babies learn and adapt.
After about 3 ½ weeks Evie was able to latch consistently. That wasn’t to say that it was all roses getting there. My supply was strong and constant from about 5 days after giving birth and I had no problems keeping Evie fed. On the other hand, I felt like I was constantly either nursing or pumping. We worked out a schedule of feeding every 2 ½ -3 hours all day and night. During the night time I’d pump while Kevin would feed her a bottle. In these first few months I’d wake up feeling engorged and sometimes in pain. I used the Lansinoh Therapearl breast pads (freeze them) to help ease this pain, often times leaving them in just to get to sleep. These gel pads were also lifesavers when it came to comfort.
Spectra S2 Plus Electric Breast Pump
A hot wash-cloth also really helped to ease my let down and prevent or ease a clogged duct, which I am SO happy to have to experience again for awhile! I will say that I never had issues pumping, which I suppose is a total positive in this scenario. After reading countless reviews I settled on the Spectra 2 pump. The key things that sold me where that it was quiet, was a closed system, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive. Pumps can get VERY pricey, and honestly I was willing to pay what I needed to get a product that worked. At first I was considering the Medela Freestyle, but the reviews weren’t consistent and I wasn’t sold on how pricey it was just to have the option to travel with it. (I did end up using a Medela handheld pump for travel, which was great!)
The great thing about the Spectra 2 Pump is that it’s a closed valve system, so no bacteria can get into your liquid gold! It has prevents any liquid from going into the machine and thus corrupting the motor on your pump. It’s also insanely lightweight, so I had no problems packing it when we went overnight. The entire bundle sets you up with two bottles (which I didn’t use) duckbills, flanges, and backflow protectors. Another key component was the nightlight setting, it allowed me to use this at night instead of turning on our table lamp. If you haven’t pumped before (like myself) the massage mode, which looks like a wave, was gentle and helped ease into pumping.
After I was comfortable with pumping and my routine I ended up getting attachments so I could pump directly into my Comotomo bottles. The Spectra values also fit perfectly with these breast milk bags - no other parts needed! I also found that while the duckbills worked, they weren’t that great. I much preferred using these valves/membranes and found the suction to be more powerful, thus yielding a larger supply (about 1/2 oz.) the Medela valves fit on the flanges as well. With the Spectra I was able to pump between 5-6 oz at each pumping session. Obviously, this is in part due to my own supply, but I felt the Spectra worked very well for me and I’d absolutely recommend it!
My mom also made me bath of lactation cookies, which I ate about once a-day. I kept them in the freezer and normally had one before pumping in the morning. I would suggest making your own cookies over purchasing them. Not only do the store lactation bars taste like crap, they’re also super pricey!
My apologies if this read like a brain-dump, there’s just a lot to say about pumping and breastfeeding in general. I hope some aspects of this post aid you if you are currently nursing or plan to. I’m happy to answer ANY questions about my breastfeeding journey - I am an open book!
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