Below is Shena’s story about exclusively pumping after she found out she had flat nipples. You can read more exclusive pumping stories here. Thank you to Shena for sharing her story!
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I have an amazing husband. He is in the fire department so he’s at work every other 24 hours. Together we have an eight year old daughter, and now a 6.5 month old daughter. We also have two dogs and a hamster. I worked in our home as a full-time nanny to a few kids. My husband gave his full support for me to quit my job when I was nine months pregnant and give myself full-time to the household. Little did I know that that meant 24/7 attachment to a breast pump.
At my first attempt to breastfeed, I was told I have flat nipples. That was a disappointment from the start. Luckily, I had planned ahead with an old breast pump, so at 11pm on day two in hospital, I broke down and asked my husband to go home and get the pump.
That first month everything was a blur of sleeping only two or three hours at a time. I felt horrible. I had a lovely supply though (I drank Mother’s Milk Tea on a few occasions) In the third week, I got thrush and had to sanitize like crazy.
During the first month, I pumped 10-12 times every 24 hours. When sleeping, I’d wake every three hours to pump.
My baby began sleeping six to eight hours at a time. Yay!
The pump caused blisters. Loads of blisters. Lanolin before AND after every pumping session helped. My bra would have skin stuck to it from blisters drying or scabbing, so I washed bras very often. The blisters opened which caused unspeakable injuries. I was pumping through the tears. Luckily, I never had any infection in nipple tissue.
I got my first case of mastitis. I didn’t go to the doctor, but I pumped extra sessions and used hot packs every hour until it went away. It helped to take hot showers or shake my breast using my fingertips pressed on the clogged duct area.
I pumped 8-10 times every 24 hours until empty. When sleeping, I’d wake every four hours to pump.
I dropped one pumping session per day each month. In the third month, I pumped eight times, fourth month, seven times, fifth month, six times.
By the fifth month, I averaged up to 55 oz in output every 24 hours.
This month is GREAT!! No thrush, no blisters, no blood in the milk. I have been able to sleep 8 hours a night, do house chores and go out to restaurants. I pump every four to six hours in the daytime, with four pumping sessions every 24 hours.
The last six months of pumping were horrible but worth every minute for my little girl. She hasn’t been sick even once. I would totally live this all over again if I have any more babies. I have five or six months of breast milk stored in two deep freezers. I have passed my goal of having enough breast milk to last my baby until she is 12 months old. Everything I pump from this point on is an added blessing.
Both of the pumps I used have been double electric. I have only pumped one side at a time since I had trouble getting “empty.” For the first four months I had to shake, massage, and use a hot pack in order to empty so it often took up to an hour per pump session. Manually expressing in the shower between pumping sessions helped a lot with keeping clogged ducts away. It also seemed to relax my breast tissue to make pumping til empty quicker. I have been blessed with plenty of supply so that was never an issue.
Support for breast pumping mothers is CRUCIAL! It is such an emotional experience. The lack of sleep and inability to live any sort of life those first few months can be so mentally and physically hard. My mom lives nearby so she was around to help when my husband worked; I always had someone to call if I needed help, which was wonderful. I look forward in the future to providing support and encouragement to other exclusive pumpers.