Today’s first question is about feeling overwhelmed by exclusively pumping, and dealing with feeling guilty for wanting to wean.
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I’m almost four months postpartum and have been exclusively pumping for about two 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 oftentimes he’ll need me while I’m pumping. I currently pump 5 times per day.
I’m an RN, so finding time at work without compromising my patients is super hard as well. I only work three days a week, so I’m managing so far, but it’s all starting to wear on me. I’m super stressed, and I feel like my life revolves around when I have to pump next. I’m shooting for six months of this at least, but I don’t know if I’ll make it that far. Is feeling guilty normal? I feel horribly guilty for wanting to wean. 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.
A few tips/thoughts on juggling pumping and your baby –
- Pumping with your baby underfoot can be really challenging. Your baby is old enough to sit in a high chair, right? My best trick for this is to put him in a high chair, grab a basket of toys, or finger food (when he’s ready), and play with him. All the toys will fall on the ground, but that’s fine, you can pick them up when you’re done pumping and he can’t grab your tubing while you pump.
- As far as pumping at work goes, are you able to get give minutes away here and there? You could bring a manual pump in to work and use that whenever you have a little time. It might make getting your sessions in less stressful.
- I’m not sure if you drive to work, but if you do, you could also try pumping on your commute. That could be how you get two of your sessions in per day.
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.
More on deciding to wean here. 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 five with my newborn, and my milk came in yesterday.
I am worried about establishing my supply effectively with the pump only. I don’t really feel letdowns 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? 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. 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. However, if you really struggle with holding your baby and pumping at the same time, any stress from trying to manage that will negate the benefits of holding your baby while you pump. Make sure you have a hands-free bra and give it a shot!
- 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 you letdown and the milk starts spraying, attach the pump to the clogged side and massage it while you pump. Hopefully that will help! More info here:
Please feel free to add any suggestions or thoughts in comments!