I know not many of you will find these posts helpful but I'm thinking that if it DOES apply to you, it might be really nice to read about this process from a real person. I don't expect a ton of comments on these babies at all and actually found that writing all of this out was kind of fun for me, and it helped me realize how much I've learned in a short time. I could have made this a three part series for sure but went with two longer posts instead so sit back and take it all in!
Before I returned to work I was a giant stress ball that cried a lot over the 'unknown' changes I was facing. The biggest source of stress, besides simply being separated from Truman, was the fact that being at work meant I could no longer breastfeed my babe at any time. It meant I had to enter a whole new world of pumping and storing milk and washing parts and using bottles. When you are a new mom and EVERYTHING is so different from your 'norm' it sort of sucks that right when you get the hang of things, you need to go back to work and change it all again (unless you are one of those blessed SAHMs out there. And if so, this post does not apply to you). But you know what, it really has not been that bad and I never thought I'd say that statement a month ago. Yep, I'm one month into this working-breastfeeding mom thing and although I'm FAR from an expert on the matter, I feel like I have a lot of tips and advice on what has worked for me thus far. I know there are other new moms out there dreading the day they return to work and I hope that if you are committed to breastfeeding beyond your maternity leave that you'll find this helpful.
I myself have discovered that I truly enjoy breastfeeding Truman (despite two rounds of Mastitis and the extra effort and time it takes to make it work!) and I really don't want to stop anytime soon. I still try to take it a week at a time and not set lofty goals that I can't reach, but now that I've made it four months I definitely want to make it to five (and I'd love to make it a whole year, but I try not to think too far into the future just yet). But I have found that it is infinitely harder to continue breastfeeding when you work full time away from your baby, but it is not impossible if you are determined to make it happen. I can be a very stubborn person, one who is very driven by challenges, and I can be very focused on getting what I want. I'm a first born, what can I say? :) I think all of these qualities will help me continue to breastfeed as long as possible and as I hit more speed bumps I will absolutely put forth the effort to overcome them as I'm able. I'd like to go on record saying that I do not think formula is poisonous and it wouldn't be the end of the world if I had to supplement a bit, but it's just something I'd like to avoid if possible (cost, learning a new skill of mixing formula, cost, achieving a goal....you get the point). We'll see...
And so because of all that, I have become a pumping fool and you better believe the pump makes one feel like a cow hooked up to an utter sucker. I borrowed a very nice Medela double-electric pump from one of Nate's classmates that was about 4 years old and sterilized the appropriate parts and bought new tubing. Admitting to using a second-hand pump is a huge no-no according to the pumping gods out there but I figured it was free and it worked, so what's the big deal?
The problem was that it was a GIANT bag with the motor embedded into it and was a huge hassle to carry back and forth to work in addition to the milk, my lunch, and my purse. I was considering buying a new, smaller pump when Memaw came to the rescue and informed me that she wanted to buy me a new pump after talking to my Aunt about how to make life a little easier for this working mom. My Aunt suggested having two pumps: one to keep at home and one to keep at work, to cut down on the baggage. I tried to tell Memaw that I'd just buy it on my own but she insisted and thus, I got one of the coolest breast pumps on the market: the Hygeia EnJoye. You better believe I researched the heck out of this puppy before taking the plunge.
Before I talk about my new baby, I must admit that I contacted the company before I bought the pump and offered to do a blog review on their product in exchange for a free pump. I read one of those reviews on another blog and figured that it was worth a shot, but they very kindly told me that they have reached their limit of free handouts to bloggers. So basically, I still bought the pump and I feel strongly enough about it to do a review anyway even though I got nothing out of the deal (well, besides my badass pump, but you get my drift).
The reason why this pump first caught my eye is that it's a 'green' pump and was reviewed on a cloth diapering website. It's green because when you are finished using it, you don't just toss it out and let it sit in a landfill like all of the other pumps out there, but you return it to the company and they recycle it for you. I never thought about how many breast pumps are out there, some of them barely used, but because they are made as a single user product you pretty much have to throw them out or be deviant and let a friend use yours. Seems pretty wasteful, right? I think it's so ridiculous that you void the warranty on almost all breast pumps if you have more than one person using it. My Hygeia pump bypasses that nonsense because...
The other awesome thing is that this pump is NOT designed as a single user product. It's totally acceptable and even encouraged to be used by other people after they each buy their personal accessory kit (only $30) and that means I can try to sell my beloved pump eventually to recoup some of the money or just let a friend borrow it without worrying about voiding a warranty.
And speaking of the warranty, we have two amazing things going for this pump: an extensive THREE YEAR warranty (unheard of!) and also a 21 day money back guarantee. Um, seriously? The company feels so strongly about their product that they are willing to give you your money back if you try it out for 3 weeks and don't love it? That's a sign of a confident company! I am totally keeping mine, by the way, but I like the safety net of a money back promise.
Another pimped out feature on this pump is also highly entertaining. There is a 'record' and 'play' button on the front of the pump that allows you to capture your baby's crying and then play it while you pump to assist in letdown. Hilarious! There is a generic baby cry that comes with the pump when you get it and I accidentally hit the play button numerous times while I was carrying my bag into work and let me tell you, the looks I got from passersby were awesome. I'm sure they thought I had an actual baby in my bag and might have called the cops on me. Whoops! I admit that I don't actually use this feature at work because I'm worried the crying is too loud and people will hear it coming from inside my little pumping room. And plus, I don't think that actually helps me have a let down as much as strong suction does:)
I really really love how small this pump is and that you can pull it out from the ADORABLE bag and just go to town on your boobs. In fact, this EnJoye version has an internal battery so after you charge it up at night you don't even need to hunt for an outlet while you pump! One less step of plugging the bad boy into the wall is a time saver and every little bit helps. Yes, the size of it and the beautiful bag (that could totally double as a diaper bag, don't you think) won me over for sure. I'm so glad I got the brown bag because it has the cute aqua lining.
And isn't the extra insulated cooler super cute, too?
Although I got this pump to leave at work, I actually do bring it home with me each night. The bag is so roomy that I can fit my pump, the cooler, my lunch bag AND can use it as my purse by zipping in my wallet, cell phone and keys into the inner pouches. So basically, I now have this one bag to tote with me instead of 3-4 separate ones. Consolidation is key, my friends.
So basically, this pump was made for someone like me who has to pump frequently and plans to pump long term. It also comes with two wide mouth bottles which is the only type of bottle Truman likes, but it has two adapter rings so you can still pump into the smaller-type bottles, too. It's really easy to clean the horns because there aren't a ton of tiny parts that hold milk in secret places. I really disliked the way my Medela had tiny little 'membranes' to clean and this one does not have those weird things. And remember, ease of cleaning = saves you time = very good in the world of a working mom.
The motor is fairly quiet and I like that I can easily control the strength and the speed of the suction, too. All in all I am really digging this 'green' pump with a cute bag that can be used by others in the future. I never thought I'd be so excited about a breastpump but I am not kidding when I say that the day it arrived on my doorstep I was literally jumping up and down like a little kid. My how times have changed. :)
And now I'd like to talk about the specifics of pumping which of course includes a lot of numbers. My analytical side is totally obsessed with the number of ounces I can pump in a day and it's hard not to freak out about it all when the numbers are staring at you in the face each session. And of course, the irony in that is the more you stress about your supply the more your supply will probably tank. Which is why I'd much rather be ignorant about how much I'm producing and how much Truman is eating by breastfeeding all the time instead of pumping. Oh well. Not an option right now.
Numbers to live by:
-8 times per day = the number of times in a 24 hour period you should empty your breasts to maintain your supply. 7 is the minimum amount of times and at 6 you will see a decrease in your supply. (This is really interesting to me because I'm pretty sure I'm only getting 7 sessions in total and now I'm considering pumping once more before bed.....because I have a ton of free time to do so. Ha.)
-25 ounces = the average amount of milk an infant Truman's age (1-6 months) will drink in a 24 hour period. Divide this by the number of times the baby eats in a day and you have the amount that he/she probably gets in a session (whether it's pumping or breastfeeding). For instance, if baby eats 8 times in a day you'll need to put a little over 3 ounces in each bottle because that is about how much goes down in a session.
-one ounce per hour that you are away = the total amount of milk you should pack for your baby in bottles. (ie I'm gone for at least 10.5 hours each day so he should be drinking about 10.5 ounces in that time.) You can divide it up into 3 ounce bottles, 4 ounce bottles or 5's if you want, depending on how frequently they usually eat (based on the calculation in the point above). For me, I usually do 4 bottles made up of 3 ounces which is obviously slightly more than the suggested 10.5 ounces but I figure it doesn't hurt to be a little above the line. Plus my kid is freaking huge.
-every 3 hours = the recommended amount of time you should go between pumping sessions at work. I hit this right on but probably could stand to do one more session when you count in my commute time (gone almost 11 hours means I'm pushing a fourth session. I just choose to breastfeed as soon as I get home instead).
-0.5 to 2 ounces = the average amount of total milk most moms can pump in a session (totaling from both breasts). I think this number is incredibly low once you have an established supply and they must just say that to make us all feel better about ourselves. In the beginning I wasn't pumping that much but now it's a lot more. Huh. Interesting.
Just a few links that I find to be freaking fantastic when I want to collect as much information about pumping as possible (this is quite often, obviously):
One article here talks about pumping in general and I thought it was pretty helpful.
This one talks about optimizing supply while working away from baby.
Kellymom has a whole section devoted to pumping moms. And I think this link in particular hits home most for me.
I've linked to this site before but it's really awesome for the working-breastfeeding mom.
And there's this message board that I haven't really spent much time investigating but I sort of want to read it all right now. Kellymom has one board just for pumping moms, too, and I do read that one when I think of it.
That's it for part one....second installation coming soon including my own personal tips and the logistics of making it work.