Pumping – A Full Time Job

I pumped when my daughter was in the NICU, and I pumped the two days I worked a week when I went back when she was 5 1/2 months old.  I didn’t think there was that much to it.  But, I also didn’t pump very much.

Now, I am learning the error of my ways.

When I started pumping this time, I had my $40 Evenflo single electric pump that I bought when Glade was transfered to the NICU.  First off, OUCH.  Second, this pump sucks, please do not buy it.  EVER.

Now, I am not ragging on the pump.  It gets the job done, to an extent.  I had to manually express when the pump stopped getting milk out, and I would end up getting another half ounce or more just from that.  The pump did help build my supply until my other pump got here, and that is great, but again, it just is a really crappy pump.

That first week and a half of pumping was tiring.  I pumped every 3 hours (from start of one session to start of the next), and each pumping session would take 40 minutes to an hour because I could only pump one breast at a time, and I would make sure to pump each breast at least twice to build my supply.  It was time consuming and exhausting.  Six to eight hours of my day was spent attached to a pump.  And when Blake would be at work for 8 hours a day, and I had to make sure Glade was behaving, it was just so tiring.

Before my new pump got here, I started having shooting pain after pumping.  It would come and go, and I didn’t feel sick, so we narrowed it down to it probably being that I needed new flanges (the horn parts of the pump that your breast sits in).  I had to wait until I pumped next to check, but then figured out that my flanges (the standard size that comes with all pumps) were really big so I needed smaller ones.  I didn’t want to order new ones before my new pump got there in case those flanges fit better, so I waited to see how I did sizing wise on my new pump.

It got here and I checked the sizing and knew that right away I would need to order an insert to make them smaller.  I ordered inserts, and knew it would take about a week for them to get here.

This time I thought I was finally in the clear.

Boy, was I wrong.

When it rains it pours.

Friday we went to visit Tyrion, and on the way home I knew it was about time to pump, but things felt a little weird.  I was harder than I normally am after three hours, but I didn’t think much of it.  We got home and I started pumping, but the lump wasn’t going away.  And barely anything was coming out of my right breast.

I called out for help from my amazing twitter friends, and they wrote back with what I figured it was.

A clogged duct.

I never had one with Glade.   After we figured out nursing, things went really smooth.  We never had problems.  So a clogged duct was completely new to me.

I was flooded with tips and tricks to nip it in the bud.  Hot showers, heat, massage, and lots of rest and fluids were the best advice I got!  I didn’t increase the number of times I pumped because I didn’t want to have to wean down from it, but I did make sure to pump for a longer period of time and massage and give heat while I did.

It was the most exhausting thing I have ever done in my life.

It felt that no matter what I did, the lump would not go away.  I kept heat on it, I massaged it, I pumped, and nothing worked.

Saturday the lump was there and my breast was so sore from the massage.

Sunday was the worst.  Even if I walked it would feel like my breast was ripping apart from the inside.  The only thing that helped was a rice bag so hot it felt like it was scorching my skin, but even then, once I got used to the heat, the pain would come back.

I felt just awful.

More than once that day I thought of giving up and just being done.  That pumping for another baby couldn’t be worth this pain.  I knew it was the pain talking, but I was so over the hurt and exhaustion from trying to get rid of a lump that obviously wanted to stay with me forever.

And then, Sunday night, I was doing my evening pumping session, and was about to massage the breast while it was being pumped, and I reached down, and my breast was completely soft!!

I think I tweeted it about a dozen times because I was so happy!!  I kept touching my breast and couldn’t get enough of how soft it felt.  It was still really sore (still is) but the lump was gone!  And, I was even able to get more from my right breast than my left, which is a very rare thing indeed!

And, after this, my kudos to women that have a clogged duct and have to take care of a hungry baby at the same time!!  You people are amazing!

Today, my flanges came in the mail (finally haha) and I put them on to pump, and I had zero pain.  I never realized how important flange size is in pumping until now.  If you are having pain during pumping, THIS is a great resource to see if your flanges are the right size and if you need to go up or down a size or two!

In my life, I never realized how hard it is to pump around the clock.  Nursing a baby has its own unique struggles, but pumping is always forgotten.

In the United States, most mothers have to go back to work at six weeks.  And the majority of them end up switching to formula because pumping is so hard and time consuming.  They don’t have the same support as nursing mothers, and for a lot of women, their supply goes down over time, especially if they aren’t using herbs or medicines to keep up their supply.

I am so glad that I can pump for another baby, but now I know how hard this is.  Never again will I question why a pumping mother stops pumping and switches to formula.  However, I will definitely be there to help them along.

I am lucky because I am making so much milk every day through only pumping, but not every woman is like me.

And now I know.

Pumping is a full time job.


3 Responses

  1. Ack, where was that website when I was pumping like crazy for the twins (or my first daughter)? Now I know why my nipples hurt so frickin’ bad. I needed bigger flanges.

    Pumping sucks, especially if it’s the only way to get your milk to come in and you’ve got a screaming baby to try to take care of too. It was awful. After 3 weeks of maybe 1/2 an ounce per session, I was done done done. I was able to get a smidgen more with the twins, but not enough.

  2. I follow you on twitter and am so impressed by how dedicated you are
    I only have a hand held medela, i had a mi pump for a while but it was terrible. I finally ordered a avent isis…something fancy name….and can’t wait to use it. While i know my child is not starving i am obsessing about not pumping enough. Now hopefully i can remedy the stress.

    thanks for the lovely post!

  3. Hi Kayce. First I would like to say that your committment to providing anothers child with breastmilk is flat out astounding. I am completely floored and in awe of your dedication.

    I have been exclusively pumping since my daughter was 4 days old. We were struggling immensely with getting a proper latch and I was suffering from overwhelming depression and anxiety. The decision to pump was a difficult one to make. I worried that my partner, family and friends would not support me and I questioned my ability to stick to my commitment of 1 year of pumping.

    Today we’ve almost reached 9 months. It’s been a lot of work, a pain in the butt and totally worth it. I get the questioning “bottle look” from people sometimes but I’ve finally gotten to a place where I can get over that pretty quickly.

    Oh, and just wanted to add that I had a blocked duct a while back too. Insanely painful. I went to the doctor and they told me I was SOL until it got infected and then they could treat it. I marched myself home and had my partner get it out. Enough said.

    I really wish you luck on this amazing journey. If you ever need to chat with someone about the strange life of a pumping lady you can send me an email at thursday@mygirlthursday.com.

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