05 July 2015

Pump Master

In my previous post I mentioned that I LOVE my Medela Pump-in-Style double-electric breast pump. I received this pump after I had William so it's an older version.
Isn't that bag très chic?
The bag holds the pump mechanism and has two compartments. The left compartment is a cooler: put an ice pack in there and the expressed milk stays good until you get home and can put the milk in the fridge or freezer. The right compartment is for storing the other parts of the pump.
I love that the pumping pressure can be dialed down or up. The first time I pumped after having Matthew I started on the lowest setting. He's now almost five months old and I usually do the medium setting or a bit higher. By the time I was finished breastfeeding William (14 months) I was pumping on the highest setting. The variable settings help match the baby's sucking efficiency for more consistent feedings.
I didn't have any issues pumping with William but for some reason it hasn't been as smooth-sailing for me this time. Maybe it's because Matthew usually only nurses from one side at a time, I don't know for sure.
The first time I tried pumping after Matthew was born was about a week before I went back to work. I needed to start building up a supply of expressed milk to give to the boy's daycare provider. I thought it would be like riding a bike - easy. But it wasn't. I started feeling pressure in my chest and I was having trouble breathing; I had to stop after only a few minutes. I didn't stop trying to pump but the anxiety kept happening. I tried deep breaths, watching TV or a movie to distract myself, or keeping Matthew right next to me while I pumped. It didn't really make a difference. I asked my doc about it and she said it sounded like a small anxiety attack. I thought that was strange since it's not like I hadn't pumped before. I think I was having anxiety issues since pumping meant going back to work. Don't get me wrong, I love my job. But with a new baby, a toddler, and my master's program, adding work to the mix seemed like too much.
Luckily, it was fine! There is an extra office at work where I can pump. I just have to make myself do it. I get in the middle of my work and have a hard time making the time to pump. That's good for work but not good for my milk production. I missed a few days which meant that my body stopped producing as much milk during those morning hours. Well, less milk means less for Matthew and that's bad. 
(Side story: for a few weeks there were two student secretaries and me working the same shift with only two computer spots at the front desk. I would go work at the computer in the back office which was the best. When I needed to pump I could just close the door and keep working while I pumped. Less guilt for not working while pumping! There were a few occasions when I needed to pump twice at work and it wasn't a problem because I was still working while I was pumping. If I could just work in the back office all the time I would be one happy momma. But I guess I have to work the front desk, too. Wouldn't want the students and faculty to miss my happy face, right?)
In an effort to get my milk production back to what it should be, I have implemented a new routine (with the help of later work hours). I am pumping up to three times per day. Ideally, I will pump first thing in the morning BEFORE I feed Matthew. I can usually get 6-8oz first thing but today I got 10! Yay :) I don't work until 10am so I nurse Matthew right before we leave the house. I pump at work at around 11:30am. I feed Matthew right when we get home around 2:30pm. He eats every 1.75 to 2.5 hours for the rest of the day. If he is sleeping when my feeding reminder on my phone goes off, I will pull out the pump and get a third session in. Matthew nurses for the last time each night around 1am. Rarely he will wake up in the middle of the night; usually he sleeps until 8:30am or 9am.
Since I started this routine, I have been getting more milk during my pumping sessions. I don't freeze my milk since what I pump during one day Matthew will eat in the next day or two. I use Lansinoh storage bags which can be frozen.
I do like to have a few extra bags at home, just in case. I take my pump with me when we go to Ogden to visit Tyson's family. His parents will often watch the boys so Tyson and I can go on a date and I like to have milk ready for Matthew. I take my pump over the weekends to keep up my schedule. That session first thing in the morning is really vital. Since Matthew only feeds on one side at a time it helps my physical comfort to pump before he eats. I don't have to worry about him not getting enough if I feed him after I pump. Babies are more efficient than breast pumps are so he's all good.
I am glad to have an excellent pump with all the fancy features to make my life easier. And I'm really grateful for a boss who never makes me feel like I have to choose between pumping and my job. Seriously, my boss is the best boss on the planet. In the universe. For all time.

04 July 2015

The Second Time Around

You wouldn't think things would be much different in the time between my two pregnancies but I'm starting to notice which things have made my recovery and transition to motherhoodx2 easier. I made a list of my "top 5" must-have baby items, 4 of which I had last time around and have grown to appreciate all over again.

1. iBaby Feed Timer
This iPhone app is a wonder-tool. 
You can time feedings, including on multiple sides. 
You can track the number and type of dirty diapers your baby is having. I tracked this for probably the first 2 months but gave it up as it was just one to many things to track.
You can track when you pump/express milk and how much you get from one or both breasts. This feature is important to me since I miss two feedings while I'm at work and only get to pump once. (More about pumping in another post)
The app tells you when the next feeding is (approximately); you can determine time between feedings either as an average or as a set time. I started with the average but as Matthew started sleeping through the night those long stretches messed up the average for during the day. Now I have it set for every 2 hours but sometimes he only gets to 1.5 or 1.75 before he's ready to eat again during the day.
There is a log tab which will show you 1) all breast feedings, 2) diaper changes, 3) pumping times/amounts, 4) bottle feedings, 5) baby growth measurements.
There is a summary tab which shows you like average feed length, average time between all feeds, number of feeds, and number of diapers per day, for the last 7 days, and the last 28 days. 
There's even graphs of the data! Not a joke. There are four graphs: 1) timeline - shows (on a 24-hour scale) when each event took place; 2) summary - line graph which plots events over time; 3) bottle - line graph showing amount of bottle feedings; and 4) growth - line chart showing the baby's physical development (I input these measurements from Matthew's regular doctor's appointments).
After I had William I was just writing down all my feedings on a piece of paper and guesstimating how long each feeding was since sometimes I was too out of it to notice a specific start and end time. This app changed everything for me. I always have my phone with me so I can log each feeding to a more accurate length. The craziest thing is waking up in the morning with a vague recollection of feeding Matthew in the middle of the night and I'll check my app and I had tracked the feeding while mostly asleep. Matthew still sleeps in his bassinet next to my bed and he's old enough now to have learned side-lying feeding WHICH IS THE BEST.
This app saved my brain. I had so much going on after this birth since I was still in school and it's so nice to have an app remind me, "Hey, it's probably time to feed your baby". The little alerts also remind me to pump while I'm at work, but more on that later.

2. Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced breastpump
I received this pump after I had William and I love it. I have the older model so that carry bag is less stylish but the pump itself is a marvel to me. The bag has a thermos-esque compartment to keep milk cold after I pump. The pump suction is highly adjustable so I never have to deal with pain.

3. Baby blankets
Matthew used to spit up a ton. I mean, he still spits up a lot, but it's not nearly as bad as it was. I had to switch him to only feeding on one side at a time to help reduce the amount he was spitting up. Because of his tendency to spit up a lot, and not always right after a feeding, burp cloths were totally useless. I have to keep a full-size baby blanket with him at all times, just in case. We use all of the blankets we made/got for William and the blankets we made/got for Matthew so I don't have to do laundry just for blankets.

4. Johnson's breast pads
I will never EVER use another brand of breast pads. I don't care that I have to order these pads from Amazon because my Walmart stopped carrying them. It's worth it. The material is so much smoother than any other brand I have tried. If there is one thing not to skimp on it's the item kept nearest to one of the most sensitive parts of the female body. These pads were a god-send right when Matthew was born. He was tongue-tied which made nursing, well, horrible. He wasn't latching correctly so it was painful and I ended up cracked and bleeding and bruised. Remember what I said about that area being very sensitive? You definitely don't want to suffer the issues I did without a little bit of relief. It got so bad I would flinch when my app alarm would go off to feed Matthew: I wasn't ready for the pain. Luckily I mentioned our issues to Matthew's pediatrician at his two-week appointment and the doc discovered Matthew's tongue was tied and fixed it. The feeding right after the appointment was a million times better. I was so grateful.

5. Bassinet
Tyson's mom let us use this blue bassinet when William was born and now again with Matthew. The bassinet can be removed from the base, which has wheels for easy movement. I slept on our awesome couch for probably the first six weeks of Matthew's life. It was easier to set up my stuff out in the front room and not worry about waking up Tyson while doing feedings and diaper changes in the middle of the night. I put the bassinet sans base right on the floor next to the couch, propped up with a flat pillow on one end to keep Matthew at an angle (again, to reduce spitting up). Now we are back in our master bedroom and I keep Matthew's bassinet next to my side of the bed. He is going to outgrow it soon and then I'm not sure what I'll do. I'm worried about putting him in the same room as William. I guess I can't avoid that forever. In the meantime I'm enjoying side-lying nursing in the middle of the night and first thing in the morning. I can also rock the bassinet back and forth on the base to rock Matthew back to sleep if he gets a bit fussy.

If I were to make a list of things I thought every mom should definitely have for her new baby, these five items would be the list. You don't need all the fancy shtuff for your baby. I know every mom has to find her own groove and I'm glad the only "new" thing on this list was the feeding app that I cannot live without.