My Journey

Share you hints and tips for expressing and storing breastmilk. Whether expressing just occasionally or exclusively, share and support one another here.

My Journey

Postby Beth Rez » Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:49 am

Hello again ladies,

Thought I'd share a quick update on my EE experience, hopefully it will give some people hope and others the piece of information they needed. Don't feel obliged to read it all, I did include my pumping routine and lessons learned though.

So my DD stopped breastfeeding at the 3 month mark, very abruptly. After a month of trying every trick in the book (over and over again) I finally accepted that her stubbornness is born of her father. I still offer now and again, but the smiling look she gives me with that 'No Way Hosay' giggle just makes me laugh now instead of us both crying :)

Since then I have been exclusively expressing. I'm not going to lie, the first 2 to 3 weeks were tough. Upset at her continued refusal, angry at myself for 'letting' it happen by selfishly having one night off to go to a wedding which seemed to trigger the bottle preference etc etc etc. All manner of scenarios played in my head about how she would suddenly refuse my milk altogether and starve (sleep deprivation kicking in there I think).

But here I am, nearly 7 months of exclusively expressing later, and I have a 10 month old who is a rather tall size 2, and happy and healthy as I could wish.

The hardest aspect of pumping for me was not one I expected. And that's because it was external. People didn't seem to understand how hard it was for me to even leave the house for longer than an hour at a time. It seems that I was constantly explaining to people that NO I was not exaggerating - every 2 to 3 hours, for half an hour, I need to pump. That is sitting still, usually with a baby rolling around on the floor next to me - watching cooking shows and pumping. If I visited someone for any decent amount of time I had to take not only all the baby's things, but my pump, sterilizer and bottle warmer too. People seemed to think that expressing was somehow freeing up my time because I wasn't breastfeeding??? Crazy! In reality what was this routine:

1) Breastfeed the baby

became this routine

1) Setup the breastpump
2) Pump the milk
3) Feed the baby
4) Clean the pump / sterilize / store milk etc ready for next pump in...oh look, under 2 hours time now *sigh*

Not to mention the point of going to see someone was to go SEE them, not be stuck in a back room pumping while everyone else enjoys the BBQ :P
It wasn't all stress and bother though. Once I found a pumping routine, I found ways to work in visits and shopping trips etc. I should mention at this point that my husband is working away this year (Navy) and has been gone since April, and won't be back until November - just in time for DD first birthday :) So most days DD and I are home alone.

It's not the same for everyone, but my supply was well established by the 3 month mark so this is how often I have to pump to keep up with DD these days (I count in oz - its easier than hundreds of mLs)

0600-0800 morning pump 13 to 16oz - i don't pump overnight anymore unless my supply begins to dip (happened once or twice)

1000-1100 window pump 4 to 5 oz

1400-1500 windows pump 4 to 5 oz

1800 onwards final pump. 5oz + The longer I leave it the more I get.

I did introduce solids at 4 months, but unfortunately this is also when her teeth began appearing. So chewing food was not high on her priority list. I had hoped to have her on some kind of regular meal + milk routine after the 6 month mark but some days she just wouldn't eat solids and I had to pump extra to keep her full.
Now she has 2 + meals a day and loves trying new foods. This does take the pressure off a bit and I don't worry about running out of milk as much.

After a fortnight or so of EE I found I had enough leftover to store in the freezer. I have a backup now of 40 oz in case my supply takes a dive or some other emergency occurs.

So here are my lessons learned about exclusively expressing from 3 months:

1) It was NOT my fault, or anyone's, that she went on strike. These things happen. It took me weeks to accept it, but I got there in the end :)

2) Don't do your head in sterilizing the pump between feeds. It's not necessary! If I can leave my milk in the fridge for 2 days then a pump will be fine sterilized in the morning, then refrigerate the pump after use with the rest of the milk! Just attach a new clean container at each pump.

3) Related to the above, if you have the fridge space, dedicate a shelf to baby milk + food only. Keep the shelf clean and organised and it makes it easy to rotate the containers of stored milk around.

4) Keep a small whiteboard on the fridge. This helped me keep track of when she ate, and how much I pumped and when, stopped me being paranoid about her not getting enough, or me not pumping enough. My whiteboard looked something like this, in two columns:


0630 7oz +cereal
0930 4oz
1200 3oz + fruit

0730 15oz
1000 4oz
1230 5oz

5) The supply and demand rule holds true for pumping. If I pump 30oz in a day, I can get 30oz the next day as long as I don't miss a session or skip a meal.

6) Drink LOTS of water. If I didn't, I really noticed it was harder to pump. Blood from a stone hard if I was dehydrated.

7) It is okay to miss a pumping session. As long as you don't miss it three days in a row. Reflective of baby growth spurts I suppose, supply dips with demand. It took me about 3 days to get my supply back up with extra pumping sessions.

8 ) Bottle feeding can be just as intimate as breast feeding. I got the same loving looks, face taps, nose picks and dozy cuddles as I did when she breastfed. Fortunately for me she is a BITER - so I think my nipples are grateful.

9) Automatic pumps are good, but not always best. I find that I constantly vary my rhythm and pressure of the 'pull' of the pump, as well as a bit of massaging to get the milk out.

10) Unless interrupted, pump until you're empty, each side, in order to maintain good supply. If not at every session then at least 1 or 2 per day including the last one if you don't pump at night, else mornings can be quite uncomfortable :)

I had planned originally to go back to work at the 6 month mark. Unfortunately (and this is not the employers fault) I have nowhere safe and private to pump there. And I couldn't exactly go home every few hours for half an hour :) They are understanding though, and have pretty much said I can come back when I'm ready, whether it takes 6 months or a year!

Having said that, I am now in the situation that I am starting to get a bit of cabin fever. I tried giving DD a taste of formula once or twice at 4 months, so I could use it as backup, but she refused, and there was no way I was going to waste my hard pumped milk on mixing it! I was adamant that I wouldn't put her on formula just so that I could go back to work. But this week I bought a stage 2 powder, which is casein not whey protein based, and I had some spare milk, mixed it in and she gulped it down.

So I am considering, having spent 7 months expressing, and knowing that she does eat at least 2 meals per day, that my journey needs to come to a close. I am a very patient person but being home alone every day, sometimes the pressure of the routine does get on top of me, and when the stress builds up it can affect my supply and I spend days getting it back.
Being home alone with her has also led to a rather large attachment issue. While flattering, her clingy behavior is going to make it hard to go back to work at all. And expressing enough to get her though the day at daycare will be almost impossible, since I can't pump at work... its a catch 22.

So while I haven't made a decision yet, I am going to try and move forward and slowly increase her formula intake over the next 2 months. Once she is a year old and eating mostly solids then I am happy to have her on formula for as long as she wants it. She has thrived on my milk and I am proud to have made it through this year with so many gremlins telling me to throw in the towel.

That's it from me. I hope some of this information has been useful, or that my story has given a few out there hope. It is hard yakka exclusively expressing, and it is certainly worth it if anyone is thinking of giving it a try. With a strong support base, and lots of patience, it is possible to establish and maintain a sustainable routine for however long you want to do it!

Cheers !
Beth Rez
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Re: My Journey

Postby JennyD » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:22 am

Hi Beth Rez
Thanks so much for sharing your story. Well done for expressing for your daughter for so long, you have put so much effort in. And yes it is so hard, and so much harder than either of the alternatives. I always thought of it as feeding the baby twice, once when I expressed the milk and then once when I fed it to the baby :)
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Re: My Journey

Postby Yankee » Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:06 pm

Wow what an incredible story! That's some serious persistence.

Just a comment on the formula ... don't forget that after 12 months there's no need to give your bub formula, you can save the money and switch to cow's milk. And if your bub is starting to really get into solids, you may find you don't even need to replace fewer pumping sessions with formula feeds. Every bub is different of course! At around 10 months is when my bub really picked up the solids and I dropped back to about 3 daytime milk feeds - she was getting more than enough nutrition from solids and water during meals.
DD born September 2013
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Re: My Journey

Postby Andypandy » Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:34 pm

That is amazing. Well done on such a hard working journey.
DS1: May 09 Breastfed 2y7m
DS2: Oct 2012 Breastfed 2y1m I am pretending he is weaned
DD: Feb 2015
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Re: My Journey

Postby kingofthedivan » Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:03 pm

Wow, what an incredible journey. As someone who struggles to get in a daily pump for building up a stash, I have only admiration for your determination and perseverance. Well done you!
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Re: My Journey

Postby mooki » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:37 pm

Thankyou for sharing with us. What a fantastic effort.
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Re: My Journey

Postby adk » Sat Sep 06, 2014 7:29 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your story - that is an amazing effort and your little one is a lucky bub - well done, you have traveled the hardest breastfeeding road, that is for sure.
Back in the forum with surprise bub number 3!
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Re: My Journey

Postby Beth Rez » Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:22 pm

I'm glad a few got something out of my story.

I thought I'd let everyone know that I somehow managed to wean off the breast pump within 2 weeks! I went from pumping over 30 oz a day to nothing (it's been 3 days since i pumped last) and my little munchkin has adjusted well to the change.

And I now have an extra 4 hours or so in my day so spend with her and focus on weird and wonderful food combinations for her to try. I am much more relaxed and very happy with my decision - so it must have been the right one!

I couldn't have done it without ABA and the amazing people on here and their stories & tips, and I'm glad I got to share mine with you all.

Cheers! :smt006
Beth Rez
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Re: My Journey

Postby Yankee » Tue Sep 23, 2014 11:59 am

So glad to hear things are going well. Hope you stick around!
DD born September 2013
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