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.

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