Sarah Seweryniak is a freelance writer and marketing professional. She resides in Western New York with her husband Matthew. They welcomed their daughter, Genevieve, in the Summer of 2017.
Adventures in Exclusive Pumping
In the months leading up to the birth of my daughter, I had been prepping my idea of what being a perfect parent would be. My husband and I began researching parenting techniques (settling on Gentle Parenting) and reading about all the different gadgets we could purchase to help raise a child in this century easy.
Through my research (and constant discussions with friends) I knew I wanted to breast feed my baby. I could not understand why others would opt not to breastfeed. I mean, think of all the benefits for baby and mother! Baby gets the wonderful nutritional benefits, bonding, etc. Mom (or some moms) get to lose some weight, not have her period, and save some big money on formula costs.
In my mind there was no other way, at minimum, I would breast feed for 12 months.
I made sure I put as many breast-feeding essentials on my baby registry. I made sure I had the most beautiful covers for when I would be in public or hosting guests. I even received items I would never think of getting to help in my journey.
I thought I was set…and then I was greatly humbled.
After an incredible lengthy labor, my daughter was in distress and I had to go through an emergency c-section. After my daughter went through her physical, she was finally brought to me.
The time had come!
Nature is amazing. Here is a perfect little person, who is only minutes old. I did not have to do a thing. The doctors placed her in my arms and she knew exactly what she needed to do.
Boy, did she ever! My beautiful minutes-old mini me had the latch of a piranha.
I do not know how to describe watching her go for the latch. The way she would open her mouth, cock her cute hairy head and zero in on her target – it was the cutest and most terrifying sight I would ever see.
So humbled… that was an understatement.
I had multiple lactation specialists help me…after realizing my nipples were inverted, we tried a shied. Did it help, yeah….but that cute little piranha kept wearing me…I mean my nipples down.
So when we left the hospital I was greeted with amazing gifts from friends…the most delicious lactation treats ever! Words of advise and words of encouragement. They all meant the world to me.
I waited and waited for my milk to come in…so while I tried to feed from the breast and pump, that little piranha was beginning to break me down.
Soon the pain was too much…it even killed to try to pump.
Sadly, no nipple creme was saving me!
Not only was her latch becoming to be too much, I was beginning to feel those dreaded baby blues. Right on cue, my cute little piranha began crying bloody murder from hunger.
I felt helpless…not only did I have lactation consults at the hospital, I had also privately seen specialists.
Healing from a C-section is not easy either. My natural instinct wanted to place her across my chest or lay her over, but given the sensitivity of having my abdominal gutted to fish out my little human, I was limited to the football hold. I did not feel that close connection I wanted or needed to feel.
So feeling helpless and hearing the hunger from my little piranha, I looked to my loving husband and said, “I can’t do it anymore…please give her formula.”
“No, honey,” he started. “This isn’t what you wanted. You can do this!”
“She’s starving,” I yelled back. I did not want her in hunger.
Of course my amazing and smart husband said, “Your supply is based off of her demand, so if you start supplementing now, you’re never going to catch up.”
Boy, do I hate when my husband is right.
Well…she did get a little formula that day….but my husband was right…this wasn’t what I wanted…I didn’t care if my nipples were going to fall off, I was going to make this work somehow!
I had a surgery to prep for about 10 weeks after delivering my daughter, so regardless, I needed to pump to ensure she would have food. Not going to lie, between feeding from the breast and pumping…I thought I was going to lose my mind. I could not catch a break…I was either attached to my child or on a machine.
I craved that breast to baby bonding that all of my friends were or had experienced with their babies. After my last failed lactation consult, I decided I could not do the breast, that I was more comfortable pumping.
I felt like a failure. I got depressed about it. I felt like I was not doing enough for my baby. I was afraid to tell people I was exclusively pumping.
It is almost like I felt like less of a woman.
When I went for my six-week post opt, I had explained everything to my OBGYN and how I felt like a failure.
“Your baby is still getting breast milk, correct,” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered.
“Do you still feel like you’re bonding when feeding from the bottle?”
I thought about that question. While I had felt like a failure for not feeding directly from the breast for the last couple of weeks, I still did skin to skin while bottle-feeding. I continued to think about my doctor’s question, I did still feel bonded to my baby.
“Yes,” I answered.
“Then your baby is getting everything she needs.”
Sometimes, you just need the simplest person to knock some sense into you.
After feeling better, I began to do some more research, there would be some benefits in the long term for exclusively pumping.
– You will know exactly how much food your baby getting:
It can be hard to gauge how much your baby is eating while breast-feeding. By pumping and bottle-feeding, you can know the exact amount, which can come in handy.
– Your baby will learn to feed from the bottle:
This is important. This way my husband can feel a sense of bonding with our baby. I mean, I did get to hog her for the nine months I grew her. We will always be connected, because she grew inside of me. The hubby gets the short end of the stick, so to give him the opportunity to feel a level of bonding is important.
– Allows some freedom:
As much as I would love to bring my daughter to work, I cannot. Therefore, this helps the transition to when I am not home, whether it be work, going out with friends, or enjoying a date night.
– When you are ready to wean, it will be a little easier:
Since I had a surgery, I had to pump to have enough for when I would be at the hospital and out of commission on pain management. My supply was a lot higher than what my daughter needed. Once I was healed, I began to wean myself to what she needed. Since I did not need to pump every three to four hours anymore, I was able to get myself to pumping three times a day (early morning, lunch, and before bed). I cannot tell you how nice it is to have some sanity and freedom back from all that pumping.
Once she starts food and as we get closer to the one year mark, I’ll begin to cut away at those three pumping times until I’m down to nothing.
Hopefully this article will help any mothers out there who are hoping to breast feed and having difficulty…and looking for any information out there to help make their hope a reality.
Just hang in there…trust the process…and do not get mad at yourself if things do not got according to plan.