I have to admit, I’m…

I have to admit, I'm relieved to have the scale tell me two weeks post-partum that I've already lost sixteen pounds of baby weight. Presumably that was mostly Kavi + amniotic fluid + placenta + extra blood and all, rather than the actual extra fat, which will take longer to get off, but still, it makes me feel better. Thirteen more pounds of baby weight to go (I gained twenty-nine total) -- and then, y'know, it'd be nice to drop another twenty to thirty or so. If breastfeeding is actually as helpful with that as they say it is (they claim it burns 200-500 calories a day, which is something like twice what I normally do in a session of exercise, not that I actually exercise all that often) it really might be worth all this pumping just for weight loss purposes, never mind all the extra-good antibodies for baby. :-) Is that shallow of me? (Of course, I'm also hungrier too, and eating more than normal, so maybe this won't be as effective as I hope. But a girl has to hope.)

That said, pumping is a pain. I have a single-breast pump right now, because we bought it pre-baby, when we had no idea that she'd be so resistant to breastfeeding (and had little understanding of how common it is for babies to resist). And of course we didn't anticipate the jaundice and the need to stuff her quickly full of supplemental formula calories -- we just thought we'd use it occasionally so daddy could do a night feeding. What a single-breast pump means at the moment is that I pump seven times a day, for 45 minutes to an hour each time. I.e., my schedule looked like this today:

  • 4 a.m.: wake up, feed baby (takes 30-45 minutes because we're using the extra-slow Avent nipples that supposedly mimic the breast and minimize baby gassiness; seventy-five percent of babies are very gassy, and Kavi is definitely one of them)
  • 5 a.m.: put her down for nap, pump until 6
  • 6 a.m.: have an hour do check e-mail, read a book, etc.
  • repeat three-hour cycle until bedtime at midnight
  • repeat day cycle tomorrow
It's not quite as bad as it looks, because after the first feeding, there's usually someone awake to do feedings -- that'll be true for another week or so, until Kev's mother goes home. So I have two-hour breaks between pumpings instead of one-hour. And I can read or check e-mail or browse the web while pumping. But still -- we're talking about seven hours of pumping a day. It's starting to feel a bit all-consuming.

We're thinking we'll try to rent a hospital-grade double-breast pump (Medela Symphony) and try that out for a month. It's expensive -- $75-100/month. But if it gives me an extra 3.5 hours of freedom a day, I think it'll be worth it. The other option is to buy something like the Medela Pump-in-Style double pump (around $300, I think), but the Symphony is supposed to be more efficient, quieter, and altogether a better experience. So I think we'll at least try it for a month and see.

Here's a question for those who have pumped before -- there's something I don't understand. The books seem to claim that pumping takes about 15-20 minutes/breast. Okay, fine. But milk production goes way up, right? I mean, I'm already pumping 3 oz. at a pumping session, when last week, it was 1.5 - 2 oz. So does the time you pump increase as time goes on? Or does the breast just somehow jet a lot more out in that same 15-20 minutes? Inquiring minds are very confused and would like further information, please.

It's not all about the breast around here, though. Sometimes, stuff comes out other places. We were worried this morning because Kavi had a tiny tiny fever -- 99.2, so basically half a degree. We checked with a couple of our parent friends (Nilofer, Jen) who told us not to worry about it. And the books said we weren't even supposed to call a pediatrician and ask about it until 100.4 or some such. We worried anyway. Six hours later, her temperature's come down to normal, so we're relieved about that....

*But* remember how I said she was feeding like crazy last night? Well, today too -- she's just been asking for lots of food. And we're happy to give it to her (assuming my breasts can keep up with her demands, which they're just barely managing to do), but it's a bit frustrating when we give her food and ten minutes later, she throws it back in our faces. Okay, it's not actually projectile vomiting, so it doesn't reach our faces. But she has spit up about an ounce of milk twice now, dousing my clothes and hers pretty well. Parents -- any clue what's going on? Should we worry? I mean, we're going to worry anyway, but it'd be nice to know whether we actually ought to.

5 thoughts on “I have to admit, I’m…”

  1. Catherine Shaffer

    Mary Anne: You may be suffering from a rare and lucky feeding disorder which I had with my son. Too much milk! Seriously, I had a huge supply. My son started puking prodigiously at this stage. We actually took him to the doc and had him worked up for pyloric stenosis. (He didn’t have it.) The doctor didn’t have an answer for us, but I found out from family members that they had had trouble with copious vomiting due to too much milk. From your pump output, it sounds to me like you have a very good milk supply and may be over feeding Kavvi a teeny bit. She is at the age where newborns begin to cry more, so try spacing out feedings and doing more of other sorts of comforting (and feel free to call your ped about this, too) and see if you can calm her. For myself, my son was constantly fussing and it was months before I could reliably tell whether he wanted food based on his behavior. We ended up tolerating all of the puke and keeping lots of towels handy.

    About the breastfeeding–I am just catching up with your other posts. I am so sorry about the unsupportive lactation consultants, etc. I winced when I read your account of the LC who kept telling you to “make a sandwich” of your breast even though it wasn’t helping. That is so stupid. I wish you had found someone more supportive to help you with that latch. And I understand not wanting to go out and meet new people. I am the same way myself. I do think there’s still hope you can get Kavvi back onto the breast, but you may need professional help. You have such a great milk supply. Pumping 3 ounces for a newborn is awesome! You are really lucky. Pumping and nursing can be combined, but as you’ve already found, it is very labor intensive. I have only known one person who tried this who didn’t end up weaning from the breast within 3-4 months, and it took a huge commitment of time and energy. She made the effort, because her son had reflux and he seemed to do a lot better on breast milk than formula. She ended up doing about half and half. There is nothing wrong with formula feeding. I hope you don’t worry too much over this. For some reason it seems like the babies that come out with low apgars, complicated births, or spend time in the ICU just have trouble getting started breastfeeding. Thank goodness formula is an option for these babies. In pre-modern times, these babies might not have made it.

    You are doing great, and I am enjoying all of the pictures of your beautiful daughter.

  2. Eve Fillenbaum

    hi, sorry about the previous 2 comments, hit tab a few times too many! You don’t know me, but I’m a long time lurker. I’ve really enjoyed hearing about Kavi (I have 2 daughters, the younger is just a year old). I nurse the baby at home and pump for her at work.

    about the pumping/feeding etc–first, please get yourself a double pump, it’s esential if you plan to give her mostly pumped milk (essential both for your milk supply and your sanity!) And yes, you do end up getting more milk out in the same amount of time.

    there is a pumpmoms group on Yahoo that you might want to look at, it has lots of good info.

  3. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Catherine, I think you’re right — Kev looked it up online and what he found suggested that overfeeding was likely the cause. Which is funny, because various other sources had stated categorically that ‘you can’t overfeed an infant.’ Apparently, you can — it’s just not so common. What can I say? Mohanraj girls like their food. (Okie, so she’s got Kev’s last name, not mine, but you know she’s still a Mohanraj girl at heart…)

    We cut back to 2 oz. a feeding, every 2-3 hours, which is supposed to be the max her stomach can hold right now. She still asks for food whenever she gets fussy, but we’ve decided she doesn’t really mean it — she just wants to suck on something. It does mean more rocking, soothing, walking, singing, letting her suck on our pinkies, etc., but she usually calms down reasonably fast (15-30 min), and no more puking. Yay! I suppose this is one plus of pumping — we know exactly how much she’s getting. If I were strictly breastfeeding, it’d be much harder to judge.

    We really do want to try to stick with breastmilk for at least six months (oh, those health benefits), and, given that I don’t actually *have* to do any teaching/writing work until January, I don’t have such a good reason to stop, as long as I can stay relatively mellow about it all. Yes, pumping and feeding her is a full-time job and more, but I have no other job right now. So hopefully, I can continue to cope. We’ll see.

    I did get her to take the breast for seven whole minutes yesterday (and we all felt very triumphant, which tells you how frustrated we are about all this stuff these days). I think we’ll keep trying on our own for another week or two, and if that doesn’t work, maybe I’ll try going to one of those LLL meetings, see how it feels.

    Eve, thanks for the advice — it’s appreciated! I’ll check out the pumpmoms group…someone else had mentioned it, but I forgot about it.

  4. Get the symphony. It is definitely worth the investment. Also, you don’t have to pump longer. The lactation consultants that I worked with have all suggested that you pump more frequently for a shorter amount of time. If you pump in closer intervals it supposedly causes your milk to be richer and better for the baby. Regardless of if you do this though, I’ve noticed that the more milk I produce the more that shoots out when I pump. So, the amount of time you pump does not usually increase.

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