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.

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