Why I opted to solely pump and not actually breastfeed is beyond me. Exclusive Pumping is one of the hardest things you can do when you have a newborn.
Being a Vegan; healthy meal choices are important to me, and that is why I wanted to breastfeed my baby initially. My friends and the internet made such a strong case for breastfeeding, I almost felt like I would be a bad mom if I didn't do it. There are so many benefits to breastmilk; It's not just a source of food. The natural antibodies alone are enough to argue it as a medicine in a way.
Truth be told; the idea of breastfeeding scared me. It was foreign to me except in movies or the occasional mother I'd see public nursing. I couldn't really explain why I felt so odd about it, I just knew that the thought of actually latching my child to nurse didn't seem natural to me. During my pregnancy I went back and forth between the decision to breastfeed or give formula. After all, I was formula fed and I think I turned out OK.
When a fellow MLS wife told me that our insurance company covered a breast pump, I decided to strictly pump. At the time, I didn't even know that it was a thing! I was so happy that I had found an out to breastfeeding, but that I would still be giving my baby the breastmilk I had heard so many great things about.
Now before I get into this next section, I am not bashing mother's who are able to nurse directly from the boob. I envy you. Also, it is so wrong for breastfeeding mothers to bash others for not breastfeeding. Everyone has their reasons so no one has the right to judge!
I began pumping an hour or so after Capri was born. (You don't need to bring your pump to the hospital, they will provide one for you!) I was told not to try pumping until after birth because it could trigger an early labor. The first part of the milk that arrives is called Colostrum and is a thicker consistency. To me, it looked almost like syrup. No lie, she had like maybe 5 drops a feeding the first 2 days. I kept telling the nurses "I don't think she's getting enough" but they insisted she was fine. Eventually my supply came in and I was able to start feeding her a more regular amount. I did have to supplement and give her a few ounces of formula until that happened because I felt like she was dehydrated. Supplementing is OK when you're breastfeeding. If you're not getting enough milk, it's OK to top off feedings with formula if your baby is hungry. So don't stress! I learned that the hard way.
After a few weeks I started freezing the extra milk I had pumped. (I would do this right away even if you nurse directly. You'll end up leaking and wasting the milk if you don't!) I pumped every 3 hours and it was exhausting. The middle of the night pump sessions were the worst, but if I didn't do it I noticed a HUGE drop in my supply. I ordered this Hands Free Pumping Bra and it basically changed the game with pumping. I use it to pump while getting ready in the bathroom, or I check my emails while pumping and don't have to worry about holding the bottles up. (Yes, I held them up for the first MONTH!)
After 12 weeks of pumping every 3 hours.. even through the night, I started to skip 1 to 2 pump sessions in the middle of the night. I needed the sleep and I noticed when I pumped in the morning I would get a pretty large amount.
In all honestly, Exclusive Pumping is a Beeeoootcch. If I could do it all over again, I would just try to suck up my fear of nursing and latch Capri from the start. My friends who nurse don't have to worry about bottle clean up. And my friends who formula feed don't have to wake up, warm a bottle, feed the baby, pump a fresh batch, and then take it to the fridge. Besides, if you're going to be out and about for hours running errands, you have to take your pump. I've even pumped on a plane and it is not fun!
Capri is finally 4 months old and our doctor said she is ready to start eating rice cereal and soft fruits. Hallelujah! My goal was 6 months of pumping with some storage in the freezer and I feel like it's around the corner! I'm excited to start introducing foods into the mix so she can begin to fill up more and I won't have to supplement with formula as much when my supply is running low.
If I can help anyone with pumping advice please let me know. I've become quite the public pumper in many situations and might be able to help!