Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dear Sunflowerchilde

The question is: Why do I feel that pumping is harder than breastfeeding?

It was all hard for me. I'd had a breast reduction surgery 10 years prior to giving birth, but I think that had very little to do with the problems I had. I had a small baby with a weak suckle and some other factors that probably contributed to a compromised supply. For one thing, even with a sister who'd exclusively nursed 4 babies and a ton of help from 3 different LC's I still didn't know what I was doing. I didn't have the right information at the right time. There were so many things that I needed to know earlier than I knew them for me to have been able to utilize the information. There's a window for establishing supply and I made some big mistakes during that critical window.

You're having a good pumping experience so I don't want to put negative thoughts out there. However, since you asked, here's why I thought it was hard.

  • Breastfeeding almost never hurt me. Pumping did. I eventually had to get a larger flange, but before I figured that part out I got really sore.
  • I pumped almost every time I nursed for 12 weeks. I don't suppose this was any harder than nursing twins, but it sure did seem hard to me. Even doing both, once my supply dropped, I was never able to get it back up.
  • When I tried exclusive pumping, my supply dropped even more.
  • It's just uncomfortable. Having to lean forward and worrying about leaking out under the flange on the furniture... It's so absolutely worth the discomfort though.
  • I hated washing and sterilizing the pumping parts. I did get a great tip from an LC though. You can put the pump parts in a ziploc bag and store them in the refrigerator for 12 hours. This will get you through several pumping sessions without washing them. It makes a huge difference.
  • You can't take the pump to bed and nurse while you nap. I always had enough milk first thing in the morning so that I didn't have to supplement so I'd put her in bed with me and rest more while she nursed. Again, unless one twin kept sleeping, this wouldn't work for you.

She did develop latch problems because she was on a bottle from day one. I was able to correct the latch problems with a lot of work and using a wide mouth bottle. Also, when she was about 2 months old it seems like she just figured out what worked and what didn't. Babies are amazingly adaptable and so much smarter than we usually give them credit for.

I hope that you have great success no matter what you do. Breast milk is an amazing and living substance and gives your babies something that can't be replicated. Every drop they get is a gift and you're wonderful for working so hard and caring so much that they get it.