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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Breastfeeding Broken Down

Problem: Baby E won't latch on and feed from the source.  I pump every 2-3 hours during the day/evenings and 3-4 hours at bedtime.  It is physically and mentally draining, but Baby E gets the nutrition he needs.

attempting to breastfeed soon after Baby E made his appearance

Physically Draining: Yes, physically milk is draining out of me and into a bottle.  Other physical aspects include sore, cracked nipples, frequent clogged ducts, engorgement, and larger than Yin average boobs.  The worse culprit would be the clogged ducts, which feel like hard rocks in my boobs.  It builds up, blocks, and causes extreme pain. The solution?  Constantly pumping to unclog the duct and allow milk to pass through. It can take anywhere from one pump session and up to a whole day's worth of pumping to get rid of my clogged ducts.  Also another physical aspect would be the cleaning and drying of pump parts, which is a pain in the butt in the middle of the night.

constantly cleaning bottles and pump parts

Mentally Draining: The day never has enough hours, and I spend most of those hours feeding, changing, and pumping.  It would be much easier if I could combine the feeding and pumping.  Oh yeah.. that's called actual breastfeeding, but that doesn't work in this family.  If I pump every 3 hours (lower end estimate, typically I pump every 2), I am spending 2 hours and 40 minutes a day physically at the pump and cleaning parts.  I feel I have a responsibility to my son to provide him with breast milk if I am capable.  In this case I am capable of producing, and I should continue to do so until I am physically incapable of doing so.  The down side? It is all taking a toll on my mental health.

Hygeia Enjoye -- Great pump, review to come soon

Breast is Best: Gahhh!!  Why do medical professionals and mommy anti-formula clubs have to exist?  The hospital puts so much gosh darn pressure on the mother to breastfeed.  The mommy anti-formula clubs are so bias, and they hate all formula feeding mothers.  The thing is breastfeeding isn't completely natural.  It is a learning process for both mommy and baby.  My baby decided that he didn't want to go to the breast.  Also the sucking reflex didn't come naturally to him, and he had to practice to get to where he is now.  I personally do not think that breast is the absolute best.  It does have a slight edge over formula since it's the body's natural way of providing nutrients to the baby.  Formula is good stuff too, and people need to stop thinking it's the devil's food.  High fructose corn syrup, trans fats, preservatives, and complex sounding ingredients can be considered the devil's food.  Formula is made to provide babies with the nutrients they need to grow into strong kids.  Heck, both H and I were formula fed babies.  We turned out just fine...

example of H being a happy formula fed kiddo

Family History: My mother was never able to breastfeed.  She has inverted nipples.  It's not impossible to breastfeed with inverted nipples (nipple shields, pumping for 15 seconds, etc.), but it just wasn't in the cards for my mother.  Recently I learned that my mother was not an only child like I once believed.  She was actually child number 4 (or was it 3... I have bad memory).  My grandmother was not able to successfully breastfeed, but she didn't know it and her babies starved to death.  With my mother, she decided to provide her with animal milk (I'm assuming goat's milk).  My mother survived.  

I'm Stingy/Stubborn: H and I have already invested a lot of money towards breastfeeding.  I have purchased the following items: Boppy, Hygeia Enjoye Breast Pump, extra accessory kit for pump, nursing covers, lanolin, disposable nursing pads, reusable silicone nursing pad, breast milk storage bags, 2 nursing bras, and herbal supplement to increase milk production.  That's over $400!  Yikes!  That's equivalent to 3 months worth of formula.  The stingy side wants to keep pumping to pay for the items I have purchased towards breastfeeding.  The even stingier side of me wants to pump forever to keep saving money.

Guilt: I feel an extreme amount of guilt for even thinking about stopping one day.  I feel like I'm letting down every single mother out there who is incapable of breastfeeding.  I can't exactly breastfeed, but I can pump.  Not only can I pump, but I can pump enough to meet Baby E's current demand.  So many women would love to be in my position so that they can provide their baby with even the smallest amount of breast milk.  I would be selfish to even consider stopping.

How can I ever justify depriving my baby of the milk  that I am capable of producing for him?  Look at that face!

Formula of the Future: Breast milk digests a lot faster than formula, and I am feeding him every 2 hours.  On formula he can go longer between feedings.  Maybe he can even sleep through the night.  I think about the future when he will eventually drink formula, and it sounds like such a great life for me.  Then reality sets in, and I feel guilty for thinking about that future.  I know it has to eventually happen.  Can I really be a slave to my breast pump for a whole year?  I don't think I'm mentally capable of doing that.

Baby E has been given more breast milk than both H and I combined.  Is that enough? It is week #11, and my first goal was to reach 3 whole months.  I can most definitely pump for another week without a problem, but can I do it for 4 months?  5 months?  6 months?  I can't tell...

So that's the break down of how breast pumping has been going for me as of late.  It is super complicated, and I am mentally and physically drained from this whole process. I'm trying to stay strong.  I have made changes to make pumping easier on me, and it helps a whole lot.  Now only if I can keep focused on pumping for another week, I'll be happy.  


Emily Z said...

You. Are. Too. Hard. On. Yourself.

Yes, formula is expensive, and yes, breastmilk is technically better, but if your mental health is suffering, and even just supplementing SOME of his daily nutrition with formula would make it easier on you, it's worth it. If, say, you switch his night feedings to formula so both you and he can sleep more, I think it would be worth it.

You, Hung and your mom are all proof that formula isn't the end of the world. I was only breastfed for 6 months, and even then not exclusively because my mom had to work. So I got formula (Not even regular formula...SOY formula! Yup, lactose intolerant baby here...) during the day when I was being babysat, but breastfed when I was with my mom. And I turned out fiiiiine.

Happy mommy = happy Baby E.

Yin said...

@Emily Z: Thank you for your encouraging words. I know I am too hard on myself, and I easily cave into peer pressure. Early on I was perfectly fine with him supplementing with formula. Then I increased my production, and I felt overwhelmed with guilt if he had to drink an ounce of formula. I wish I could get rid of a pump session or two, but that results in clogged ducts. :(

Emily Z said...

Yick. Clogged ducts are also not fun.

Seems like a double edged sword. Hopefully you'll figure out some schedule that works for both of you. (Like, say, maybe enlisting Hubs to clean pump parts, and you can take that time saved to veg, or blog, or whatever!)

Remember, no matter what "experts" say, child-bearing and raising is a very personal issue, and what works for some parents won't work for others.

Case in point: my mom let our cat sleep in my bassinet. He slept there to protect me. Parents nowadays would NEVER do such a thing, but HEY, I survived.

Just like you letting E sleep with you after a feeding. I know MANY parents who exclusively co-sleep. And MANY breastfeeding moms who do exactly the same thing that you were/are doing, so that both they and kiddo get more sleep.

So don't feel guilty. If it's working, and you're happy, and he's happy and healthy, that's all that matters.

Yin said...

@Emily Z: As much as I love to complain about pumping, it has gotten easier. We recently bought a second accessory kit, and that cuts down on the constant cleaning and immediate drying. I also developed a schedule for Baby E, which has resulted in 4-5 hour period of sleep at night and naps every 90 minutes during the day. I no longer have to stress over finding time to pump. Of course all of these things just make it easier, but it is still challenging.

I kind of miss co-sleeping. Baby E developed his own sleep schedule shortly after I wrote that post, and I haven't had to co-sleep with him since then. :(

Parenting is a learning process. H and I are the only people who know how to raise our baby, and I would like to think we're doing a pretty good job. Baby E is a very happy baby, and that makes me a happy mother. I've had to make a lot of changes along the way, and I'm still learning. I just want the very best for our family.

Btw, you are awesome. I love your support and words of encouragement. Thanks!

Emily Z said...

No problem! I get growly when I see new moms get down on themselves, because being a Mom is Hard!

I still think you should figure out how to get more Yin time. It's great that you're starting to figure out a schedule that works for both you and E. 4-5 hours isn't much, but it's at least one complete REM cycle! I often find that 4 hours is better than 6, because I get one complete REM cycle instead of waking up in the middle of my second all groggy.

I think that you are definitely doing a good job. I see all the pics you post of Baby E, and it shows a happy, healthy baby, with happy (if exhausted) parents. His facial expressions are hilarious, btw.

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