Below is Lindsey’s exclusive pumping story about everything not going to plan. You can read more exclusive pumping stories here. Thank you Lindsey!
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“Don’t even bother with a birth plan.” This is what I was told over and over again during my pregnancy. I was warned that nothing would go as planned, and I should have listened.
As a first time mom dealing with my first pregnancy, I wanted to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s. I made a meticulous birth plan and of course, nothing went according to that plan. I was induced early at 36 weeks and 5 days due to preeclampsia. I was hoping for a natural birth, but that did not happen. I was pumped full of Pitocin and labored for around twelve hours. Once the Pitocin started doubling my contractions and they were happening back to back, I decided to opt for the epidural (which was heavenly, I might add).
Once I was fully dilated, I pushed for around an hour and a half, but my baby was stuck. We could not get him past a certain point and his heart rate started dropping. My hospital room went from a pretty relaxed atmosphere of trying to push, to feeling like I was driving a race car, and the doctors and nurses were my pit crew trying to get me onto the track in five seconds or less. Everyone was buzzing around hurriedly (mildly freaking out) trying to get me to the operating room ASAP for an emergency cesarean. When the doctor told me that was what was going to happen, I of course freaked out (it wasn’t in the plan!), but just wanted what was best for my baby. At this point, my epidural had started wearing off and I was warning them that I could feel my contractions again. No one seemed to care in that moment.
The next thing I know, I am being flung onto an operating table and searching frantically for my husband. He finally arrives in his astronaut-looking gear, just as they start making the incision. I immediately freak out because I can feel everything. I alert the doctors of what is going on and they immediately give me a mask to breathe into and tell my husband he is going to have to leave while they sedate me. I started crying, my husband had to leave, the doctor yelled it’s a boy, and then darkness.
The next thing I know, I wake up in a recovery room without my baby. (Not in the plan!) I located the nurse and wanted to know where I was, where my baby was, where my husband was, where my mom and sister were, and basically what had happened since I was put under because it felt like I had been asleep for years and woke up in an unknown science experiment.
I was still in complete shock at how quickly things changed and how my baby was brought into the world. I also could not believe he was a boy. We decided not to find out the gender of our baby during the pregnancy and all the typical signs and tests pointed toward girl. So, we were surprised with a boy! Anyway, all of my emotions and crazy hormones, combined with not seeing my family or new baby when I woke up was frightening. My plan stated that in the event of an emergency c-section, I wanted to be able to still do skin-to-skin with my baby. But, when I had to be put under, that all flew out the window. (I should’ve listened about the birth plan, ha!) I wanted to breastfeed and knew that the first few hours could be critical to our bonding and breastfeeding experience. (Cue the stress.)
They finally moved me out of a recovery room and told me they would bring me my baby. I was so nervous to meet this little miracle. When they placed him in my arms, I lost control of my emotions. I cried for what seemed like hours. It was such a crazy experience and emotional rollercoaster. After getting some family time with our little one, our first attempt at breastfeeding occurred. We were off to a not so great start because he had already been given formula. His sugar was low when he was born and I was still unconscious, so they opted to give him formula. (Not in the birth plan!). It had been a couple hours since he had been given the formula, so he was hungry anyway. The nurses were there to help me as we tried to get him to latch. It was awkward and we weren’t very successful. He “nursed” for around five minutes before getting very irritated and upset. I was told to nurse for as long as he would last when he got hungry and then pump for 20 minutes after he tried. He was given what little bit I was able to pump and then was supplemented with formula.
We were having major latch issues as I have inverted nipples. The nurses and the lactation consultant all had different tricks to try, but ultimately, we were never fully successful with nursing. We both would get too frustrated. I felt like we had tried everything, but I did not want to give up on giving him breast milk. We tried the nipple shields, we tried pumping for a few minutes prior to make my nipples more erect, etc. You name it, we tried it. It took me approximately four or five days for my milk to finally come in. I had been pumping religiously every time after he tried nursing.
It felt like we went through an endless cycle of wearing nipple shields or another device to correct the inversion, having him try to nurse until we both got irritated, and then pumping. I started to notice that we were both relaxed and happy while I fed him his bottle of my milk while I pumped. That’s when it hit me that why should I get us both upset and mad every time he needed to eat when we could do it an untraditional way and both still get what we want.
We made the official switch to exclusively pumping when he was around one month old. At that point, we had both had enough of trying to nurse. Our routine became much less stressful when we made the switch to exclusive pumping. It worked out nicely. He was eating about every three hours and we had a perfect schedule. (Exclusive pumping also helped with his schedule for eating and sleeping).
Since breast milk can sit out for a few hours, I would use my milk from the previous session without having to warm milk every time. I would have his bottle ready to go when it was time for him to eat and he would drink the bottle beside me while I pumped. There was no extra time involved, it was just like he was nursing. He’d eat, I’d pump. Every three hours like clockwork. The milk I would get during his eating session would be used for the next session.
Switching to exclusive pumping was heavenly for both of us. Thankfully, I had a lot of support around me when making my decision. Of course I had a few negative people around saying my supply wouldn’t last and that I shouldn’t give up on nursing, etc. But, I’m happy to announce we have been exclusively pumping for nine months without having to supplement (except for the first five days when my milk wasn’t in). Of course I still get weird looks, or comments, when asked if he is bottle fed or breastfed and I have to explain both. But we are both happy with the decision.
One thing to note during our exclusive pumping experience is that it would not be possible without a hands-free nursing bra. I would suggest getting a couple, so that when one is being washed, you have another ready to go. I opted for a strapless one because I am able to take it on and off easily while at work, or when pumping on the go. I can pump at work and still be able to type, and it has also allowed me to feed my baby while pumping. This saved us a lot of time that would have been spent otherwise by having to feed him and then pump afterwards. When people say exclusive pumping takes so much more time, I explain to them that is really isn’t because I am able to pump and feed him simultaneously.
Another thing I could not live without is my car adapter. My pump came with an option to use batteries, but I didn’t think it was as powerful when using the batteries, so I bought this for when we were on the go. Again, the hands free bra and car adapter were great because I could also drive while pumping if I ever needed to do so.