Today’s first question is about feeling overwhelmed by exclusively pumping, and dealing with guilt about needing to cut back. (Have a question about pumping breast milk? Ask it here!)
Hi! I’m almost 4 months post-partum and have been exclusively pumping for about 2 months. My baby got used to the bottle REALLY fast and wouldn’t latch anymore, and we had latching problems from the beginning. I’m a single mama, so exclusively pumping isn’t ideal, but so far I’m doing okay. Luckily, I have an amazingly calm baby, but still … often times he’ll need me while I’m pumping, or when it’s about time to pump. I currently pump 5 times per day, and I’m able to do that, just not always on time.
Also, I’m an RN, so finding time at work without compromising my patients is super hard as well. I only work 3 days a week, so I’m managing so far, but it’s all starting to wear on me. I’m super stressed and feel like my life revolves around when I have to pump next. I’m shooting for 6 months of this at least, but I don’t know if I’ll make it that far. Is feeling guilty normal? I have horrible guilt just thinking about not giving him breast milk. I need advice and/or encouragement on how to juggle pumping, work, baby, life, etc.
This might just be me, but in my experience, feeling guilty about my performance as a mother and what I did or didn’t do is totally normal. With my first I felt guilty that I was exclusively pumping instead of nursing, with my second I felt guilty that I couldn’t give her as much attention as I did my first – it goes on and on.
Let me say that it sounds to me that you are doing a great job. It’s really hard to exclusively pump when you are a single mom, especially if you are working in a role where it can be difficult to take pumping breaks. What do you think about dropping a session or two to give yourself a break, and just supplementing the rest? That way you’re giving breast milk but not needing to pump so much at work. I think that whatever works for you is good for your baby – a happy YOU is more important to your baby than an extra 5 oz (or whatever amount) of breast milk. In addition, if you’re not super stressed, you’re more likely to feel able to manage things and be able to pump for longer than you would have if you’d continued to feel overwhelmed. Good luck!
I planned to breastfeed and had several troubles early on with latching, pain, and cracked bleeding nipples and now what I think is a clogged milk duct – this has led me to the decision to pump exclusively. Today is day 5 with my newborn, and my milk came day 4.
I am worried about establishing my supply effectively with the pump only. I don’t really feel the letdown when I pump versus when I was nursing, am I still letting down if milk is coming out? Will I pump a larger output holding my baby? Also, I can only produce about 1-2 oz milk each session right now. Is this a normal amount of milk for day 5? Will pumping help with the clogged duct or is the suction not powerful enough? (I cannot empty the breast that is clogged fully). I have been pumping every 2-3 hours during the day and 3-4 hours at night. Will my output increase daily?
I’ll take any advice for pumping in the early days. I am feeling kind of helpless and hope to not have to use formula.
Congrats on your brand new baby! I’ll try to answer each of your questions:
- I don’t really feel the letdown when I pump versus when I was nursing, is still happening if milk is coming out? When you pump, does the milk at first just drip out and then start coming out more forcefully? If so, yes it is. The fact that you are pumping the amount that you are leads me to believe everything is okay.
- Will I pump a larger output holding my baby? Possibly – it might be worth trying it with your baby and without to see. I held mine when I pumped when he was a newborn, because that was just our routine (I held him after he ate, while he was falling asleep). Later, when I went back to work I didn’t see a decrease, so it’s hard to say.
- I can only produce about 1-2 oz milk each session at this time. Is this a normal amount of milk for day 5? Totally normal. This should increase as the days go on – 5 day old babies can’t eat more than 1 or 2oz, so that is perfect.
- Will pumping help with the clogged duct or is the suction not powerful enough? Yes, pumping will help – I cleared a few clogged ducts when I was exclusively pumping. I would start pumping ONLY your good side, while you apply warm compresses to the clogged side. After a few minutes, attach the pump to the clogged side and massage it while you pump. Hopefully that will help!
- I have been pumping every 2-3 hours during the day and 3-4 hours at night. Will my output increase daily? That sounds like a great schedule. It’s hard to know exactly what will happen, but I think it will increase slowly at first, then go up to a higher baseline by week 2 or 3.
Please feel free to add any suggestions or thoughts in comments!