Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Lady and the Pump

Yeah, we’re on that topic again. One of my motivations to becoming proficient with the pump is being able to go to BlogHer solo. Not that I don’t adore the micro dude, but I’m looking forward to a few days off duty.

We did a practice run over the weekend, where I fed Buster from a bottle in the evening and pumped, and it was not a raving success. I got a steady but tiny stream of milk, gathering a measly two ounces, and ended the night engorged and tense, waiting for Buster to wake up in the early morning and nurse.

For a recovering control freak, the whole breastfeeding thing is a little alarming. I don’t know how much milk I produce and have no idea how much the baby’s consuming. All that I can measure is the end result - he’s healthy, fed, and our doctor is pleased with his weight gain. When I grasp for a silver lining, I suppose it’s good for me in a Zen, personal growth sort of way, to just trust that my body and his are working.

Anyhow, during the trial run, I was surprised how much formula he consumed in one evening. Either an ounce of breastmilk has the same nutritional value as about a gallon of formula, or I’m producing a LOT of milk. Maybe I can use the milk factory as the excuse for the dozen extra pounds I’m carrying. Moo.

I talked to a lactation consultant over the phone, and she diagnosed my pumping problem as not letting down when I use the pump. (For those of you who not familiar with the term, “let down” is when the baby begins to nurse and triggers hormones that cause milk to flow. Or something like that.) The nurse suggested a few ideas to assist with pumping:

Think about the baby and visualize him nursing
Look at a picture of the baby
Think about the baby some more

Basically, it’s an emotional state that I need to reach.

Great. Exactly what I need to hear. Not a step by step procedure, but a “feeling.” It makes me think of how Harry Potter tried and tried to cast the Patronus charm. He needed to have the confidence, the heart, in him to make it succeed, because merely saying the words – going through the motions – wasn’t enough.

So, I’ve made myself a slideshow of pweshus babee photos, and I’ll let you know how it goes. If Harry Potter could conjure the Patronus, then I can do this.


Damsel said...

LOVE the comparison with Harry Potter! LOL!

Pumping is one of the things that is making me nervous when I have to go back to work next spring... I didn't pump with my first at all, b/c I had to quit nursing him at 6 weeks due to medications.

You can do it! Rah, rah, roob, pump that boob!

Leeanthro said...

Or try doing something completely frivolous while pumping: read a book, read blogs. Something to distract you and not make you watch the bottle fill.

Have you tried some warm compresses to help it let down?

Also, maybe try pumping one side at a time (I don't know if you are double pumping).

When I went back to work, I never pumped enough to feed the baby exclusively. But pumping did maintain my supply for actual nursing.

While you are away, just pump at the normal intervals that you would nurse and don't worry about how much comes out. When you get back, your supply should come back up if it dropped off.

A few days away will do wonders for the soul! We are much more than just mothers.

Pendullum said...

My kid would never take a bottle...I tried and tried...
At least you are one step of the way there....
And now the Harry Potter Image shall follow me around all day....
And I will send only good 'Patronus images' your way...

Damselfly said...

Does your pump have a plastic window where you can slide in a photo of your baby like mine did? I never used it, but it might work.

(Cracking up at damsel's "pump that boob!")

kittenpie said...

I think that's the essential difference between my pumping experience and some other's - I never experienced the idea of "letdown" having never tied it to my babe, who never latched, so it was easy enough to just go ahead. Maybe if you could bottle babyhead smell?

I can see, too, how it would be hard to just go on trust when it's your baby you're worried about. Funny, I'm hoping the breastfeeding thing will work this time, but I keep seeing these side benefits to the pumping I did last time that make me think it wouldn't be so bad if it goes that way again! I just hope not to give up to soon. Sounds like you are doing great, though!

Mamacita Tina said...

Best wishes pumping. I always worried about the amount the kids were getting. I never seemed to be squirting it out like other mothers. But like you said, the end result were happy, growing babies, so I guess something went right.