Saturday, November 6, 2010

Figuring It Out As We Go

As I type this (in between feedings, playtime, naps, and diaper changes), I'm starting to realize that it's turning into a long post.  But that's just how it's been with breastfeeding and pumping--I feel like we're figuring it out as we go...and it's not always a quick solution.

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom in regards to my plea for support, guidance, and reassurance when it comes to pumping.  I've changed some things around and have seen some improvements.  I share these changes in case they can be helpful to anyone else. 

As per some of your suggestions, I got some new shields for the pump (at least that's what I think that they are called).   Some suggested that the size might not be right, and if anything, I think that I need a smaller size (I've never been large anywhere in this area).  I must be unique--because the baby supply store didn't have them in small, though they did come in XXL (no offense if you fit an just seemed that if they had one extreme, they would also carry the other).  So instead, I went with the "softfit", and have definitely felt the difference!  I found it interesting (and disappointing) that the softfit only comes in medium...strange.  I also ordered the small regular shields online, but I admit that I have felt comfortable (enough) with the softfit, so I haven't even tried the smalls yet.

Also, based on multiple comments about only pumping in the morning, I've essentially given myself permission to only pump when it's convenient.  I agree that my supply is greatest in the morning, so I try to get a session in each morning after Ella has had her fill.  Throughout the rest of the day, I'll pump here and there as time allows.  But I guess I don't feel as "tied" to my pump anymore.  In fact, I still think that it tells me to "wrap it up, wrap it up, wrap it up", but sometime it may be telling me "let's go, let's go, let's go"--almost as if it's now encouraging me that yes, we can do this!  I'm still averaging about 1.5 ounces per pumping session--sometimes more, sometimes less.  I've even gotten really good at multi-tasking while I pump (I pulled it into the bathroom the other day and did my make-up while hooked may not have been a pretty sight, but I hit two birds with one stone).

Although we plan to do so soon, we still haven't introduced Ella to a bottle yet...which means that my breastmilk is slowly but surely taking over the freezer.  I recently learned a little trick to maximize our freezer space (perhaps others already do this, but it was new to me).  We are using the little storage bags, and I initially just lined them up vertically.  But this made for a wide base and a nearly empty top, so I couldn't fit as many pouches in the storage container.  Then I read that you can lie the bags flat to freeze them--thus spreading the milk out evenly through the bag.  Once frozen, I then line them up vertically, but they take up much less space without the wide base.

As for breastfeeding, I'm very proud of myself for figuring out a bit of a mystery when it came to Ella and her feeding.  Around two to three weeks of age, I noticed that she wasn't stooling a lot.  The pediatrician said it was totally fine, and that he's seen babies go up to 19 days without stooling.  I figured that her little body must just be using up every little ounce of nutrients she was getting in order to grow (and she was growing normally, according to the pediatrician).  This is what led me to start pumping in the first place--thinking that perhaps I didn't have enough supply for her.  As my supply increased, so did her stools.  But then I noticed that her stools were not quite the "seedy mustard-yellow" that they should be.  Rather, her stools were on the greenish side, and they were watery and foamy (I know, because Ella has developed a new fondness of peeing and pooping in that half-second between when I take the old diaper off and put the new diaper on).  So I did a quick search for "watery, foamy diapers" and found this information which led me to believe that it was perhaps a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance.  All along, I had been nursing on 15-20 minutes on each side because it seemed like the thing to do--according to the nurses, my mom, On Becoming Babywise, etc.--and Ella seemed to be growing just fine.  But the initial absence of stools, and then the foamy consistency, had me rethinking everything.  So I began to ignore the clock, and started to let Ella completely drain the breast to ensure that she gets adequate hindmilk.  Sure enough--it did the trick, and her stools seem to be back to normal (for the most part, at least).

So in the midst of my research, I put in a call to the Lactation Consultant at my hospital to confirm my suspicion, and unfortunately, had a less-than-ideal conversation with her.  It wasn't "bad", per se, but when I mentioned Babywise, she completely shut down and nearly attacked me.  I recognize and appreciate her expertise, but I think I'm going to take her feedback with a grain of salt (in the exact same way that I take the input in Babywise and from friends and family). 

The conversation just left me with a bad feeling, and when I mentioned this to my mom, she offered the assistance of a woman in their church who is also a lactation consultant, so I sent her an email...and felt so much better with her response!  She also isn't necessarily a fan of Babywise, but rather feeling "attacked", I felt supported and encouraged in how she recommended some suggestions that I should try.  In fact, she started her email with "You are so smart!  I love a mom who researches!".  I felt like I was familiar with most of what she shared, but it's always nice to have the reassurance that I'm doing things correctly and to have a thoughtful suggestion on how I can improve the breastfeeding (and pumping) experience for both myself and Ella.  She is a wonderful resource--and she said that I can continue to contact her by email, phone, text--whatever works best for me.  In fact, she is still accumulating hours for her accreditation, and when I mentioned that I have friends who have newborns or are expecting soon, she was more than happy for me to pass on her name and contact information to anyone else who might need her as well.  So if you have any questions or concerns about all that is involved with breastfeeding, please let me know your email address, and I'll send her contact information on to you.

Yesterday's blessing was a really nice conversation with my brother.  Unfortunately, he's going through a bit of a rough spot--mainly due to a recent break-up--but he really opened up to me, and it was nice to be able to be a good, supportive big sister for him.  He's coming out with my parents for Thanksgiving, so it will be wonderful to see him.  And something tells me that he's going to be such a fun uncle!


  1. I think there are lots of valid choices for parenting methods. And honestly I don't know anything about Babywise other than that the American Association of Pediatrics warns it can lead to dehydration and failure to thrive and they recommend against it. Like I said, I know nothing about it so I would never tell anyone to use it or not to use it but I just know I heard this from a few sources. It sounds like you don't adhere to it religiously and I also take bits and pieces of info from many places and use what works for us. Good luck! Ooh, I also heard a bowl of oatmeal a day does wonders for milk supply. A blogger friend tried this and was shocked at how well it worked!

  2. Sounds like you are figuring it all out! :) I'm glad to hear things are going well!!!

    That picture of you pumping and applying makeup is seriously making me laugh - but you've gotta do what you've gotta do sometimes :)

    As far as babywise goes, coming from someone (me) who didn't put her first baby on any sort of schedule - you could say he totally ran the show - and now using babywise, this second baby seems like a total dream! While I can see why lactation consultants wouldn't necessarily be huge fans, I do think the program is flexible enough to feed on demand. I consider myself to be feeding on demand, it's just that he doesn't demand a feeding until it's been 3 or 3.5 hours. And, while I had a supply problem the first time around my milk is more than adequate with baby #2.

    You just have to do what works for you!!

  3. You will run into a lot of different opinions & it is often difficult to get help without someone judging your parenting style. I have also learned this the hard way. But she is your baby & you are doing what you feel is best for her. I was also only feeding 15 min on each side & got the green foamy poops. Weird how that's not what you're really supposed to do but it's in every book.

    I was totally thinking of you with the DLS time thing! I am SOOOO envious. She is in a big developmental stage so sleep is a bit all over the place right now so adding this to the mix is not fun.

  4. Sounds like you are doing great! I had to laugh at the responses you got on Babywise. People seem to have strong feelings about it one way or the other. :) We took it with a grain of salt too. We started the basic principles around 6 weeks for our son and it worked like a charm. I have to say that I never really limited my son's time spent nursing - he was always really efficient at feeding anyway. But we did do the 3 hour schedule they outline and it was a godsend.

    Aren't mothers wonderful when you finally become a mother yourself? I don't know how many times I have called my mom with questions.

  5. hi there! I've finally been able to stay awake enough to function at my laptop so just starting on my posts and catching up --- re: the Babywise method, Elliott has been doing great on a 3 hr schedule, and because I had issues with latching the left boob, my midwife said not to switch and just have him completely drain one so he gets the hindmilk and not just the sugary foremilk - so luckily we didn't have any greeny watery poops - he's been doing great in that area and as much as I am still sticking to the principles of Babywise, just taking it with a grain of salt and what makes the most sense!
    Glad to hear you are doing well, and good luck with pumping - it's not fun but at least it will help down the road!

  6. Sounds like you've found some good support! It's always a dance to learn your baby, as your baby learns you. . . figuring it out as you go, as you said. . .


I love to hear what you think!