August is National Breastfeeding Month and well, here we are at Trent being just over 1 year old and I am so happy to report that we were able to breastfeed/pump the entire year – Woot!
But I will say this…it wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine happiness. In the beginning, it hurt like hell. My milk came in around the day we got home from the hospital and it was torture, mostly because it was new to me and I didn’t know what to expect. Then, every time he needed to eat for at least the first week, I would cringe knowing the initial pain I was about to go through. Enough so that I had recalled a friend telling me about some “prescription” cream that only one pharmacy in our city carried that would help and decided I MUST.HAVE.IT.
I say “prescription” because insurance doesn’t cover it and I don’t even know what it is…it was some gel-like cream that the pharmacist made himself. I had to call my doctor and get a nurse to call it in, so I did need a prescription per se, but when I got there, I was told I had to pay out of pocket…$48 bucks. Ouch. Even worse was that I used it for a week or two and then didn’t need it any more because the pain went away. Worth the money? I’m not so sure, but I am glad the pain went away.
I’ll also never forget a few low points along the way.
One night, I had just nursed as long as possible and yet he was still crying like he was hungry. I had just gone back to work and was pumping during the day and nursing in the evening. It was in the evening, and for the few days prior it was non-stop feeding in the evening. He must have been going through a growth spurt. Quickly, over those few days, we had depleted what little backup supply I had just to feed him enough to keep him happy. Then, here we were warming up the last backup bottle we had and I was overwhelmed. I felt like because I had to go back to work, I could not provide as much as he needed. I felt like we were going to have to give him formula, which not only made me feel defeated, but I was scared at the prospect of having to pay for formula…AFTER having spent so much on a pump. Luckily, we made it work and we never had to give him an ounce of formula, which I am definitely not saying anything negative about formula, the parents that have to use it or the babies that consume it. You do what you gotta do.
Along that same line, I had a small run-in with mastitis. For the first few weeks back at work, I was sharing the pumping room with another lady in the building. When I first started, I asked her for her schedule so that I could plan around it. I felt that since she was there first and I was just figuring out when I needed to do everything, that I would work around her schedule. She gave me her schedule, but there were times when I would go to the room and she would be in there (not during a time she said she would). There were a few times I had to skip my session because I had waited for so long and couldn’t wait any longer and had to get back to work. Because of this, I must have gotten a clogged duct and one day, a spot started hurting really bad and then I started feeling really weird. I was freezing and shaking when the room temperature was what it normally was; my entire body ached…I was having flu-like symptoms and my supply from that side went to almost non-existent. It was scary. That night, I made sure to use a hot-compress, massage and I tried to sleep the best I could. It was NOT easy trying to get better when you have someone else to take care of that wants to eat. But the best thing is to let them eat no matter how much it hurts. Luckily, it went away rather quickly, but I had to adjust my schedule to pump 3 times a day for 2 reasons: 1) to help my body learn to make more milk and 2) so even if I went down and the room was occupied, it wouldn’t be so long until my next session.
For the last few months up to one year, it had been just me using the pumping room, so I would go down whenever I wanted. After a few months, I switched back to twice a day and then I was at just once a day. As of his birthday, I had stopped pumping altogether. It’s kind of weird not taking multiple breaks throughout the day. But it sure is nice not carrying my pump bag or bottle bag…or having to remember it…or wash bottles and pump parts every day.
He made the switch to cow’s milk pretty easily. We’ll add Ovaltine to his morning milk just to add some more nutrition and flavor so he’ll drink it all. He drinks everything from his Nuby straw cup during the day and now will recently just drink a 8-9 oz bottle of milk before bed.
I thought it would be fun to give a little rundown of a year of pumping by the numbers. I’m not sure how many other moms that work out of the home there are out there, but even SAH and WAH moms may find it interesting.
Pumping to 1 year – by the numbers
Work Weeks (after 6 weeks maternity leave): 44
Days a Week: 5
Times per Day: 2-3
Minutes each session: 15
What that equals:
Entire days: 5.73
Medela pump: $250
Extra pump parts: $17
Hands-free bra: $30
Extra bottles: $26
Freezer storage bags: $16
Time away from work: N/A since paid breaks and lunch times were used
Electricity: N/A since I pumped at work
Total Spent: $346 (approximately)
Average cost of formula for 1 year (from this article, because I don’t want to do math after work): 1,733.75
Total saved: $1,733.75 – 346 = $1,387.75
The formula amount is based off of an article from someone who just did some average calculations, so if you have a first-hand knowledge of the true costs of formula feeding, than please share it in the comments!
Of course, there are many other differences that can’t be calculated and can benefit either side: health benefits, bonding, sleep differences, ease of use, availability, etc. And I’m sure both of those numbers can vary greatly from person to person. I’ve read so often that babies who drink formula sleep longer at night since it fills them up more than breastmilk would and yes, I often became jealous of that…especially on some very long, almost sleepless nights.
-Until your supply mellows out, do not skip or be late for a session…unless your job is holding a wet t-shirt contest and you want to win.
-If you have to share a room with someone else, work out your schedules. It works out best for everyone involved if you are not trying to use the room at the same time. Also, be mindful of your schedule. Don’t cut into their time just so you can squeeze out an extra ounce…end your session and come back if they are waiting to use the room. You wouldn’t want them to make you wait, so don’t do it to someone else.
-If you have an office, even better! Lock the door and/or put up a sign. I recommend getting some type of lock if you don’t already have one. Know the regulations when it comes to what accommodations your employer has to allow/give.
-I listed my Pumping Essentials several months ago, and that still holds true. There are a few things you can buy to make your experience much easier and more pleasant.
-Don’t try to push your body to do something it can’t/won’t do. I’ve read how some people want to feed their babies breastmilk so badly, but that they can’t produce the milk like they need to, so they pump ALL.THE.TIME. and end up causing damage to themselves. It may be difficult to let go of your initial plans, but not all babies are the same and you have to do what’s best for you and yours. Don’t feel like a failure…at least you tried and that’s the best you can do.
-Don’t listen to every mom on the forums/interwebs/play group/etc. I am a member of a few online mommy forum groups and when I had breastfeeding questions or just wanted to read what other mommies were going through, one of the sites had a breastfeeding group that I would read. Worst idea ever. They are made up of 99% moms that just read and 1% outspoken moms that had everything in their life work out perfectly and if you don’t do what they did, then you are doing it wrong. I remember them insisting that you should never ever feed a baby more than 3.5 ounces of milk at a time and it had to be at least 3 hours apart. Ha! You try feeding Trent less than 4 ounces and then deal with him and come back and tell me no more than 3.5 ounces…
-When it gets difficult, just remind yourself that it’s not for forever…unless you want to be on the cover of Time magazine.
-If you’re pumping at work and have a refrigerator, if you want to save time by not washing your pump parts (and maybe add more time to your actual pump time) then I recommend 2 options: 1) you could buy a 2nd set of pump parts, use one set at each pump session and then wash them when you get home…or 2) just throw your pump parts in your carrier with your bottles of milk that gets put into the fridge. Any milk that is still in the pump parts won’t go bad because it’s in the fridge and you can just take them out for your next session and use them again and then wash them at home. This is what I did and it worked out great.
Another “of course” is that each person has different circumstances. I do not judge whatsoever…do what ya gotta do. And as always, talk to your doctor before making any decisions…this is just my little rundown and comparison!