Today we have another exclusive pumping story! Below is Tracey’s story about exclusively pumping for her preemie son after he wouldn’t latch.
Why did you decide to exclusively pump?
My first child was sort of a medical mess – she was a preemie, and since I had had preeclampsia so severe that I was having seizures every 20-30 minutes, I ended up having an emergency c-section. Then 8 years later we found out we were expecting again. The doctor sent me to a high risk doctor, and we were not chancing anything. I ended up with preeclampsia again, and at 6 months pregnant I ended up on bed rest (not how I planned on spending my summer). My son was born at 8 months’ gestation via c-section.
We tried to get him to latch but he was so small – only 5 pounds. He would latch for a few seconds, then stop. The hospital breastfeeding consultant came in and tried to help me. She suggested a breast pump be brought up since he was not eating. He wouldn’t take a bottle either, so we were literally spoon feeding him colostrum.
On day three, he finally took a bottle of breast milk. We continued to try and get him to latch, but he refused. I was afraid of him not eating for such large gaps of time, so I called up the local WIC and they had an awesome breastfeeding consultant. And it was free! She told me I could rent a breast pump from them for free for as long as I needed, even though I didn’t qualify for the WIC program itself. She set me up on a schedule, and she called every 2-3 days the first few weeks to check up on me.
I set my alarm for every 2.5 hours, and I would pump 15-20 minutes. My husband was my rock. I would get up to pump, and he would feed the baby throughout the night for me so I could go back to sleep. I was sleeping on the couch; because of my c-section, I could not actually climb into my bed. I had started to freeze my extra milk, in these 10 ounce bags that I was buying at Walmart. Mind you, I knew nothing about exclusively pumping and how these things worked.
At three months, I had a deep freezer completely full of only breast milk. I wasn’t sure what to do with it since I was only feeding my son fresh bottles. I found a Facebook page for local moms of preemie babies or moms that just couldn’t produce enough. The page was Human Milk for Human Babies Ohio. I posted on there that I had extra breast milk and that someone could have it. One of the first babies that I fed was a preemie baby on a feeding tube. I could not have been more blessed to see that little girl and to hear her mother’s story.
Then I called up Akron Children’s and talked to a lady there who sent me to this place that collects breast milk for babies. I did my blood test, they tested my milk, and I was in. I was feeding babies from all over Ohio that were in medical need. One driver that picked up breast milk from me called it liquid gold! I continued to donate to three local mothers and donated to the Ohio breast milk bank on a monthly basis. In a matter of 8 months I donated over 8,000 ounces of breast milk.
How long did you end up exclusively pumping (or, if you haven’t weaned yet, how long do you plan to)? What made you decide to pump for this long/set this goal?
I exclusively pumped for 8 months. As an oversupplier, I donated for months and I had my own stash. We started solid foods when he was starting to grab our food. We skipped baby food – my son wouldn’t eat it. He is now 11 months old, and he still drinks breast milk in his bottles and eats real food.
I slowly weaned myself off the pump, and on my birthday in May I did my last pumping session! It was a sad day since you literally become so attached to the pump. It goes everywhere with you.
How did you make EPing work for you? Was there anything in particular that made it easier for you (products, tips, etc.)?
I was ready to give up multiple times. You have to have a support group and an amazing pump!
My husband’s work had gotten a new insurance plan, so out of curiosity I had called to see if they would cover a breast pump since I had to return to work. And they actually did – they covered the Spectra 9 breast pump and a complimentary set of Freemies. These things were amazing – this pump was so small and compact that I could go to work and go shopping and no one knew what I was doing! It was like this little secret.
What was your biggest challenge with exclusive pumping?
Remembering to never skip a pump, since it would hurt supply.
What advice would you give to a new exclusive pumper?
To start, pump every 2.5 hours for 15-20 minutes to get your supply started and to get into a routine. After a few weeks, then go to 3 hours. I never went more than 3 hours, but I do know some do every 4 hours.
And it’s a good idea to pump through the night, I got the most at the midnight and 3 am pumps. The first pumping session I dropped was my midnight pump when my son was about 4 months old, and I still had plenty of milk.
Anything else to add?
Never give up! There is always support somewhere, and when you look into that baby’s eyes with those chubby cheeks and chubby little rolls, you know you did that. You fed him, and you not only gave him life but you supplied his nourishment too.
There is no better feeling in the world. You got this mom!
A big thank you to Tracey for sharing her story! Donating 8,000oz of breast milk is amazing!