Sunday, March 31, 2013

Part 3: What to do when you are ready to stop pumping, and how to clean your pump

Hello Mamacitas,
Welcome to Part 3 of my breastfeeding/pumping journey-"What to do when you are ready to stop pumping/how to clean your pump"....long enough title for you?

Don't forget to check out Part 1 (the beginning of the breastfeeding/ pumping journey) and Part 2 (Choosing a Pump/My Favorite Pumping Accessories/Increasing Milk Supply).

Making the Decision to Stop/What to do when you stop:
I really struggled with making the decision to quit pumping.  When people would ask me when I was going to stop, or they teased me for still pumping, I would get really emotional and kinda crazy about it, because I felt like this was the one thing that I could give Amelia that no one else could.  It took me a while to finally be ok with quitting.  However, I made this decision all by myself.  Aaron was so supportive of what I wanted to do, he never put any pressure on me-in fact he took all the pressure off.  So after exclusively pumping for 14ish months, I decided that I was ready.  Amelia has been so healthy, and I still had a freezer full of breast milk.  I was starting to feel like I was missing out on a lot with her because I was always tied to my pump.

I had been reducing the amount I was pumping for a few weeks.  I got down to 4 times a day, then went to 3 time for a week or two.  For some reason, in my silly mind, I thought that if I stopped for a day, that my milk would dry up and go away, and every thing would go back to normal.  Oh silly girl, not a chance!  Let me tell you-my boobs were killin' me and I had no idea that I could get that engorged!  Since I had only been pumping 3 times a day, I was hardly getting anything, but wow.  I got online to try to figure out what to do.  I read a lot about cabbage, and pumping just a little bit, and wrapping your boobs in an ace bandage.  I could never find any more information about the cabbage thing though-what the heck were they talking about?  So finally I figure out that they meant buying a head of cabbage and putting the leaves on your boobs.  I thought that was too weird, but I was desperate.  So I went right out to the store, bought a head of red cabbage like this:

and a sports bandage like this:

I peeled off a few leaves, positioned them over my boobs (especially covering the nipples), put some bra pads in my sports bra, and had Aaron wrap me as tight as I could stand it.  I thought it would hurt, but it felt so good to have the support.  I looked as flat chested as a 6th grader, but I just crossed my arms a lot and wore loose fitting clothes.

The cabbage worked because there is some sciencey-sounding enzyme in there to make you leak.  I changed the leaves every few hours, (when I needed a break to breath).  The leaves would be really wilted, so I would dry off and change to fresh ones.  The trick is to getting wrapped as tight as you can stand it.  It's uncomfortable to be wrapped that tightly, however it feels so good to have the support (the song "Hurt So Good" comes to mind).  After a week, I was dried out.  HALLELUJAH! It has been so nice to actually get to participate in life and not be tied to the pump!  I don't regret pumping for as long as I did, nor do I regret quitting when I did.  I'm happy with what I did!

How to clean your pump

I mentioned back in Part 2 about how the lactation nurse at the hospital told me about pumps having the tendency to get black mold build up behind the faceplate.  Aaron and I don't know that we will have another kid, because the whole journey with getting pregnant, staying pregnant and Amelia being in the NICU was so traumatizing, but if we do, I wanted to make sure that my pump would be usable again.  I  gave it a very thorough cleaning.  Here are the steps:

1. Dismantle the pump bag (take everything out of the pockets, pull the pump out of the bag-don't forget all of the little velcro panels.

2.  Put the bag and velcro panels in the washing machine on delicate with laundry soap.  We have a regular top loading washing machine-we are special enough to have an HE machine-but if I did, I would've used the "Hand Wash" cycle.  I was really nervous about this part, I feared it would damage the bag, but no amount of wiping would clean the nasty thing.  The picture above is the after picture-I purposefully didn't take a before picture because it was nasty.  After it was done washing, I hung the pump bag on a hanger and hung it up to drip dry.

3. Before the bag was in the washer, I washed all of the pump parts thoroughly by hand, including the tubes.  I used the pump to dry out the tubes really well before packing them away.  While the bag was in the washer, I took the faceplate off of the pump and gave everything a sanitizing wipe down.  I used the Medela pump wipes for the this, because I new they would sanitize.  I let everything dry out for 2 days just to be extra safe.

4.  After getting everything cleaned up (including the power pack and battery pack) and letting it all dry, I put the pump back into the bag.  Then I packaged the pump parts, power packs and the manuals up in individual gallon ziplock bags and stored them in the bag.  I put it in the giant rubbermaid container that has the 8 million bottles that we used to store frozen milk.  We weren't fans of the bags, I had terrible luck with them splitting and leaking when we would thaw them.

That, my friends, is the conclusion to my extremely condensed version of my pumping and breastfeeding journey!  If you have any questions, feel free to message me, I feel like I've tried so many different things, that I probably can tell you what worked best for me on most situations.

Oh and Happy Easter :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Part 2: Choosing a Pump/My Favorite Pumping Accessories/Increasing Milk Supply

Hello again, Mamas!

Welcome to Part 2 of my breastfeeding/pumping journey- Choosing a Pump/My Favorite Pumping Accessories/Increasing Milk Supply.  You can read Part 1 here.

Choosing a Pump (and my favorite accessories)
When I started registering for baby items, I looked at breast pumps.  I knew that I would need one if I wanted to go back to work (although some delusion in my head told me Amelia would never drink out of a bottle-read all about that in part 1).  I looked at all of the different options, and I realized that they all looked similar.  I'd heard of Medela, so I knew I would probably choose that brand (plus Medela seemed to have the best reviews).  Let me just say that I don't work for Medela, these are simply my opinions!

I ended up in the hospital WAY before I was ready, so I didn't get much time to shop.  Luckily, since I knew that Amelia would be here early, I also knew that the NICU would lend me a pump until she got out-which I knew would be enough time to find one of my own.  I considered buying one from a friend, but after talking to a lactation nurse at the hospital, I decided to buy my own.  The nurse told me that pumps have the tendency to get really dirty and can get black mold build up behind the faceplate-even if it comes from a SUPER clean home.  She gave me a tip about a small hospital selling pumps for way cheaper than retail price, so we did that.

The pump was the Pump In Style Advance from Medela.  It was perfect for me.  It is a double electric (meaning you can do both sides at once) it comes with a cooler with ice pack, 4 bottles, pump parts, the bag with the pump built in, power supply and a car battery pack.
One of the great reasons to chose a Medela pump, is that the hospitals use Medela, so when they get you started, you get a set of Medela pump parts-so you end up with a spare set.  It is really convenient when you want to give one set of parts a good sanitizing.

The car battery pack was awesome for me, I was able to use it if I wanted to go shopping or had to go out of town for work etc.  The ice pack keeps the milk safe for several hours, so you don't have to worry about not having a fridge available.

I wore a pumping bra everyday (and night).  I had 3, and I just rotated washing and wearing. Yes my boobs looked pretty sad, but yes it was a heck of a lot more comfortable than wearing a bra with wires in it.   I had something similar to this:
find it here
I almost always wore a tank top too-that way I could manipulate it to help keep the bottles and parts from tipping over while using the bra.  I really worked out a strategy, otherwise I would spill milk all over me.  That happened a lot too-and let me tell you about spilling the milk...that ended in a lot of tears, and maybe a "few" swear words.

My favorite bra pads are the Johnsons' Nursing Pads.  You can find them here.  I always got them at Walmart.  They were the only ones that I felt dry with, and that didn't feel like I was wearing a maxi pad on my boobs.  The box looks like this:

they also come in a blue box

I also used Medela Pump Wipes for when I wouldn't have soap and water available.  They are a little expensive, but you pay for the convenience.  They look like this:

Increasing Milk Supply

So let me start by saying that I rarely had a supply issue, I'm not trying to be a show-off, it's just true.  I was really luck to be so successful at it.  However, when I did have some problems this is the list of things that I would try and that usually helped:

  • eat tons of Oatmeal-oatmeal, oatmeal cookies, granola bars with oatmeal in them etc.
  • drink TONS of water-I could always tell when I hadn't had enough water 
  • drink milk and lots of it (I drink skim)
  • take a hot shower or hot bath
  • relax-seriously, try not to stress out about it, or other things.  Stress really affects your supply-so make someone rub your shoulders
  • hot wash rags on the's glorious.  Sometimes massaging them would help too (don't let the hubs do that though-they don't know how to be gentle :) ).
  • increase pumping-as in pump longer and more often.  The more you pump (or breastfeed) the more your body makes
  • pump at work-they HAVE to let you (but they don't have to pay you for it).  Most employers are really cool about it-just don't abuse it.  When I went back to work, I would pump right before work, my supply was good enough that I would usually wait until my lunch break and pump then, then take a break about 3 1/2 hours later to pump again. Check out your state La Leche League site for laws in your state.
  • do NOT try to lose baby weight while you are establishing your milk supply-it's going to jack your stuff up.  I waited 4 months, then I joined Weight Watchers (they have a nursing mother plan).  I lost 40 lbs really fast by JUST watching what I was stuffing in my face.  Now I have to exercise, which totally blows :)
  • kangaroo with baby-this is a common practice in the NICU.  take your shirt off and lay skin to skin with baby.  It helps your milk let down, it helps baby neurologically, and you get some sweet cuddle time in.  I would get the best cat naps when I kangarooed with Amelia.
  • I never tried Fenugreek, but some of my Mama friends swore by it.
  • get tons of rest.  Nap when baby naps-seriously, they are NOT kidding when they tell you in the hospital.  Your laundry will get done eventually-but making milk is HARD, and exhausting.  You can clean the house when baby is 6 months old :)

What did you do to increase supply?

Part 3 will be about what to do when you are ready to stop pumping, and how to clean your pump!  Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Part 1: Breast Feeding/Pumping Journey

Hi Mamas!

I have been meaning to write this post for a while, so here is finally is.  This is the first part of few posts that I am going to do about breastfeeding/pumping.

A few weeks ago, I finally quit pumping.  I exclusively pumped to provide Amelia with milk for almost 15 months.  There were things I loved and hated about pumping, but I would say that I mostly loved it.  I was super determined from the beginning of my pregnancy that I was going to exclusively breast feed, and that Amelia would never use a bottle.  Well let me tell you something my friends, she started early with the "don't tell me what to do's".

Since Amelia was so premature (born at 28 weeks 2 days-11 weeks early), she never really go the hang of breastfeeding.  I stayed in the NICU with her for 2 weeks before she came home trying to get her to nurse.  I was SO determined that she wouldn't use a bottle (I was worried about nipple confusion) that I slept in 2 1/2 hour increments, I would get up, change her diaper, take her temp etc., then try to get her to nurse.  It was quite the process.  I would have to weigh her on a nursing scale, then get her positioned (while using a nipple shield), silently beg her to nurse (but I didn't dare say anything out loud or even look at her-eating is super stressful for preemies).  We would try to nurse for 10-15 minutes, usually quite unsuccessfully, then I would get cleaned up, weigh her again to see if she got anything at all, then put her back to bed and have the nurse come in to gavage (nose feeding tube) the rest of the milk.  THEN after all of that, I would sit and pump for 20 minutes (then get cleaned up again, wash my pump parts, label the milk, usually have to go to the bathroom etc).  Then try to get back to sleep to try again in 2 1/2 hours.  Tired yet?  You can imagine how pleasant I was.  Even after all of that, I didn't really get to snuggle with her very much because I had to pump.  I also "got" to eat that amazing hospital food-so you know, I was living the good life.

the little trouble maker

Finally after doing this for around 2 weeks (although in my head it seemed much longer), I talked to one of the nurses and asked her if she thought it would be stupid to try a bottle since I had been working so hard.  She was so supportive.  She told me the important thing was to get Amelia to learn to eat at all, then to get her home and we could work on nursing there.  There was also the point that she needed fortified breast milk, meaning that we mixed the breast milk with high calorie preemie formula so that she would have more calories and could gain weight.

So we tried a bottle.  She liked it a LOT better.  It is so much easier to eat from a bottle than breast.

first time Daddy got to feed her
We had to feed her in this sideways position to aid digestion and prevent choking.

The whole point of me telling you this ridiculously long story is to say that breast feeding is hard.  Really freakin' hard.  It's not always all rainbows and sunshine, it takes hard work and you have to do what is right for you and for baby.  For me, it wasn't an option.  I was beyond determined to give her breast milk, so that is what she got.  She actually just finished her last bottle of breast milk yesterday, and she is 15 1/2 months old now (I had a lot frozen).  I was extremely lucky to be able to provide her with an over abundance of milk (my mom called me Elsie the Cow for a while).  

I believe that a big component of Amelia doing so well has been because of the breast milk.  

She went from this baby:
To this baby:

She's perfect in every way...I think she's probably smarter than us already too, so we are in trouble.  

Tune in for part 2: choosing a pump.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

15 Months Old and Family Visit

15 Months Old
I don't know about you all, but I can't believe how fast this year is flying by!!!  Amelia turned 15 months on the 11th of March, and she is getting to be a big girl.  She has quite the personality (I have NO idea who she gets that from).  Here are some pictures of her 15th Month:

Wearing her first real bow...yes we are in church, and yes I turned my phone off before the service started

eating some puffs

"helping" Mommy with laundry

playing in her room

trying to get more toys out of the toy chest

I like to read Mommy's old books

reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar"

hey give me your phone!

nom nom nom

running (I can't ever get a clear picture of her anymore-she never stands still!)


Seriously, Mom, give me your phone!

happy girl!


our little family


love my "baby"

Our little Ewok

she had on the cutest outfit

going after Peyton's dog food.

naked butt!

jumping on the bed

I got caught with Mom's keys!

unwinding before bedtime

feed me!

I'm going to need some more toys

excited to be free from the fence

napping on Mommy

why yes I would like to play with the pots and pans

getting ready for bed

so that is her little diaper changing mat that goes in the diaper bag (don't worry I clean it before and after every use)  She was wearing it like a cape!

15 Month Amelia Facts:

Weighs about 19lbs 5 oz

Eats 5 oz of milk every 3ish hours, and baby food or real food for breakfast lunch and dinner

Wears size 3 diapers and 9-12 month clothes
Waves bye bye to everyone now
Calls her Unicorn and Tiger "baby"
Can say Mama, Dada, baby, Pop Pop, kitty (sounds like ditty), and hi
Preferred method of transportation is running/lunging
Thinks Peek A boo is HILARIOUS
Thinks her Daddy is magic when he uses the remote to turn on the family room light (she squeals really loud and cracks up)
Jabbers, giggles, and makes all kinds of hilarious sounds like "beedeebeedeebeedee"
LOVES going to daycare to play with her friends
Is a silly goose!

Family Visit

We got Amelia baptized on March 10th, so my parents and one of my brother's family came up to visit. It was wonderful to get to see them.  Uncle Scott and Aunt Kim weren't able to make it because Uncle Scott had a huge order for his new business-it was very important that he stay home and take care of his account.

Granny and Pop Pop got here on the Wednesday before the baptism, and Uncle Heath, Aunt Andrea, Heathie and Haydan got here on Saturday evening.

On Saturday night, Heath, Andrea, Aaron and I met with Fr. John about the baptism (Heath and Andrea are Amelia's Godparents).  We went through the ceremony and learned about what promises we make etc.  It was really cool to get to learn all about the sacrement.

Heathie and Haydan got to play in the snow (Haydan was REALLY excited!)

Here are some pictures from their visit:


playing with Aunt Andrea

playing peek a boo with Haydan

playing with Uncle Heath

Granny is cooking



Pop Pop

Granny is takin' a nap

waving to the camera

why yes, I woud like to crawl up the steps (don't worry Aunt Andrea is spotting)

I love Daddy
We had such a great visit!!! I tried to convince everyone that moving to Iowa was in their best interest, but I didn't get a lot of agreement.  I will post pictures of the baptism as soon as I get them-of course my bff Audrey came and took some AWESOME shots!  Now we will have great pictures to remember the special day!

Thanks for stopping by!

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