Posts filed under ‘EPing’

Exclusively Pumping: Tips for Quality Time with Baby

Last Saturday, I passed the 15 month mark of Exclusively Pumping (EPing). Since August, we have gone down from 4-5 pumping sessions a day to just 2. Even though I have been rather enjoying the new flexible schedule, at no point in time in the past 15 months did I ever want to quit. At no point in time did I hold the pump in distain. At no point in time did I hate what I was doing. I have had a very positive experience.

I have read my fair share of Exclusively Pumping forums and blog posts, so I am aware my positive experience isn’t shared by all mothers. There are definitely a lot of challenges and a lot of factors involved and I do recognize I had very little discomfort after birth, a top-notch support system, and the flexibility of a telecommuting job, so I paraphrase a wise statement from my Mommy-friend Quinn:

     Every family needs to pick the path that is right for them.

With that disclaimer, I am “open sourcing” a little bit of my process for anyone that wants/needs it (accompanied by completely safe-for-work photos). This is stuff that worked for me. If it looks like it can be adapted for your family, that’s great. If it isn’t a good fit for you, no worries.

Pumping Challenge: Bonding with Baby?
I’ve read a lot of Exclusively Pumping accounts where one of the biggest challenges and heartaches a mother describes is the lost time with her baby. The mother feels like she has to keep leaving her baby to pump (some posts use the verb “abandon”). She worries she is neglecting the baby and losing bonding time. Even worse, maybe she frets she is fostering attachment issues for the poor child! One mother described feeling helpless when her baby started crying while she was pumping and desperately wishing she could “go in the other room and pick her up and console her.”

When I first read those accounts, it took me by surprise. That wasn’t my experience at all and I thought, “What in the world am I doing differently?!?” It couldn’t just be the Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra. It looks like most people independently made that same discovery (If you haven’t– definitely get one or a similiar product. It opens a lot of doors of what you can do while you pump).

I’ve reflected a bit and I think I’ve pinpointed some possible differences.

I Pump with the Baby
Now, there were times where I felt like I was missing out on time with adult family and friends because of pumping, but for me, time with the pump and time with the baby are not mutually exclusive. In fact, there are times where I pick up the baby and tell my family, “I am going to take him upstairs and pump. We’ll be back.” A lot of our pumping sessions could easily be described simply as “Mommy-Son Time”.

It’s easy for me to pump with the baby and I think part of it is because…

I Pump on the Floor
Well, at home anyway, not in public restrooms. 🙂 I’ve always pumped on the floor. I pump on the floor because I sleep on the floor (even when I was pregnant). So when we arrived home from the hospital and were faced with the question, “Hmm…Where should this breastpump go?” the natural answer was, “Oh hey– how about right here on the floor?”

Sagan - Day Seventeen - Helping Mommy With Server Update
Day 17 – Breast Pump on the Floor

Because I was on the floor, the baby could also be on the floor where that scary gravity and all the injuries and disfigurements it aims to inflict on my child are kept at bay. The baby could be right next to me or even physically on me (more on that in a moment). If he needed something, I was right there. Thanks to the hands-free pumping bra, I could give him a bottle, I could comfort him, I could change his diapie (though really messy poopies I would recommend handing off, particularly when the child is enamoured with crawling). Heck, I’ve dressed him for daycare while pumping. And even if he didn’t need anything, I was still right there where I could just stare at him, sigh, and think about #$*&ing lucky I was.

Now, as far as comforting and burping, there is the limitation where you can’t really hold your child to your chest while you are pumping, which brings me to my next possible difference…

I Tailor Sit and Use My Legs A LOT
Tailor sitting is also known as “Indian-style” and I do it a lot. I always have. Even in chairs, I often opt to tailor sit in my seat. It’s true. I’ve been reprimanded by librarians (They aren’t fond of people’s feet being where other people’s butts will be). Because it is so natural to me, tailor sitting also makes cameos in my mothering. My crossed legs have proven to be a nice comfy spot for my son to hang out…and sometimes nap.

Sagan - October 28th - Resting in Lap While Mommy Works
Tailor Sitting – 3 1/2 Months In

Earth 383 10 Year Anniversary - Sleeping Sagan, Vicky and Malena
Tailor Sitting – 13 1/2 Months In

If he is having gas or discomfort, I’ve found bouncing my knees or rocking to be effective. I’ve also found my legs to be a great way to prop him up while he takes a bottle.

Now when I’m pumping, I may not be able to embrace him and hold him tight to my chest. BUT I still have full use of my lap and my legs. Sure, you have to move tubing around, but I’m there and available for my son. Plus it is good motivation to keep good posture as babies seem to get annoyed when pumping accessories are shoved in their faces (I haven’t tested it out, but I suspect most adults would experience a similiar reaction).

I think the trickiest part to master was finding a way to burp him while pumping. It didn’t come up often because my husband was so attentive but when it did, I would lay the baby stomach down on my thigh and pat his back that way (Hat Tip, my mother-in-law).

Exclusively Pumping with the Mobile Baby
I think like with most things, exclusively pumping gets more challenging as the baby gets mobile and wants to explore. I still pump on the floor and around the “pumping area” are a whole bunch of toys, including this wooden workbench that continues to captivate him. For the most part, we play and talk. Sometimes I supervise him as he explores the room and there are times where I quickly disconnect the tubing so I can go fetch him. The most friction we’ve run into is an ongoing disagreement about how much fun it is to yank the tubing out of the breast pump. Though I expect the incident rate of both his exploring and my adbrupt retrieval missions to increase in the future. : )

Exclusively Pumping - Sagan Plays With Happy Lights Bear
13-Month Old Sagan Plays, I Pump AND Take Pictures (Also there is that tailor sitting again)

Shared Moments
Pumping with my mobile son has had some spectacular moments. One day I got to watch as he figured out how to stick his toy screw driver into a spare breastshield he pulled out of the breast pump bag. The breastshield and its funnel shape turned out to very friendly to the unadept and a marvelous tutorial. A couple of days later, I pumped and watched my son’s more confident hand manuever the toy screwdriver into the small holes in his workbench. Then from day to day, I got to witness his increased steadiness as he stood and played. He develops right before my eyes.

And then there was the first time in the middle of playing, my son paused, crawled over to me and gave me a hug. Children are adaptable, and sure enough, my son found a way to make a hug work.

Exclusively Pumping - Sagan Hugs Me
13 Month Old Sagan Hugs Me While I Pump

I didn’t miss these moments because I was attached to a breast pump.

And maybe (if it is right for your family), you don’t have to either! : )

October 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm 4 comments

Medela Pump In Style – An ROI

With Sagan being born so early, there were some concerns with whether his latching and suckling would be sufficient to bring in my milk supply. Luckily, I had some lactation counselors that were on the ball and they had me pumping that very first night in the hospital.

Now that Sagan is older and stronger, he does have a few meals here and there directly on the breast, but for the most part, we are “EPing” (Exclusively Pumping). The day we got home from the hospital, Ryan ran out and purchased a Medela Pump in Style from Babies R Us. At first glance, one may think the $299.99 cost is pricey. However, in our case, compared to formula our Medela Pump in Style promises to be a bargain!

Similac Versus Medela

I didn’t start recording volume metrics until Sagan was a week old. From July 20th through September 14th (56 days), we’ve pumped 44,866 milliliters (or 1,517 ounces).

Daily Milk Production – July 20, 2011 – September 14, 2011 (Larger View)

Looking at a six-pack of Similac Expert Care – NeoSure 1-Qt Ready-to-Feed Bottle (good for prematurity and catch up growth) comes in at $44.00. Each individual bottle costs $7.33 and contains a quart (756 milliliters) of formula. That comes out to $0.0077 per milliliter ($0.23 an ounce).

That puts the break-even point at 38,716 milliliters (1,317 ounces). We hit that on 9/8/2011 at 4:11 PM after only 50 days of pumping and a number of those days were still building up to a full milk supply!

As a disclaimer, I expect it would be more economical to purchase powder formula as opposed to the ready-to-drink I’ve priced out above. We have yet to purchase formula for Sagan (w00t!), so I wasn’t sure how many ounces the powder would make.

Finally, a quick aside. If you find yourself in a situation where you will be pumping frequently, I highly recommend the Simple Wishes Hands Free Breastpump Bra. At $31.20 it pays for itself at a mere 4,025.63 milliliters (136 ounces). It allows you to pump and still tackle other tasks, like diaper changes, bug fixes, answering support emails… and writing blog posts about your breast pump. 😉

Related Link
Formula Cost Calculator from kellymom

Appendix – Raw Data

Date Total Milliliters Pumped
7/20/2011 312
7/21/2011 394
7/22/2011 381
7/23/2011 441
7/24/2011 504
7/25/2011 528
7/26/2011 522
7/27/2011 570
7/28/2011 576
7/29/2011 632
7/30/2011 625
7/31/2011 628
8/1/2011 661
8/2/2011 681
8/3/2011 735
8/4/2011 744
8/5/2011 733
8/6/2011 712
8/7/2011 834
8/8/2011 809
8/9/2011 749
8/10/2011 855
8/11/2011 669
8/12/2011 851
8/13/2011 844
8/14/2011 687
8/15/2011 855
8/16/2011 878
8/17/2011 783
8/18/2011 885
8/19/2011 892
8/20/2011 814
8/21/2011 840
8/22/2011 909
8/23/2011 887
8/24/2011 966
8/25/2011 839
8/26/2011 855
8/27/2011 945
8/28/2011 706
8/29/2011 1025
8/30/2011 847
8/31/2011 1030
9/1/2011 787
9/2/2011 1062
9/3/2011 870
9/4/2011 958
9/5/2011 864
9/6/2011 899
9/7/2011 1155
9/8/2011 823
9/9/2011 1009
9/10/2011 912
9/11/2011 998
9/12/2011 841
9/13/2011 1043
9/14/2011 1012

September 15, 2011 at 9:09 pm 1 comment

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