Mommy Mondays: Pumping vs Breastfeeding vs Formula for the Working Mama

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(I totally wrote this post back in November 2015 and then again in April 2016…lol  so some of this timeline might be a bit off~ but i didn’t want to change too much since it meant more to write things as i was experiencing it.  enjoy!)

wow…try saying that title 5 times in a row.  last friday marked my LAST DAY OF PUMPING.  insert slow clap.  this near 11 month journey was insane and to be honest…i kinda wish i had been able to make it to one year…but that’s what baby #2 is for right??  ( i got super sick three times in a row and my milk supply just dried up.  sad face.)

when i got pregnant, this entire world of breasfeeding, pumping and formula feeding was completely foreign.  even now there are SO MANY things i don’t know the learning curve was so hard and steep that i thought i would share some of my joys and pains with ya’ll and help sort out which of these three things is right for you.

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as a now working mama trying to navigate her way through full-time work, a long commute AND breastfeeding/pumping…life is definitely not easy.  my days were sectioned out in 2-3 hour increments in my mind of when to pump, when to breastfeed, when to SLEEP!

when i was pregnant i seriously assumed and prepared myself for formula feeding c.  all my coworkers told me that there was no shame in that game and i should do what is best for me and c.  i shouldn’t feel pressured by the “breast is best” women and, again, do what is best for me and c.

before the baby i bought some formula and kind of just had it in my mind that c was going to be a formula baby.  2 different lactation consultants looked at my boobs and told me in advance that i would have trouble breastfeeding.  great right? #rude

i went through major ups and downs with each of these things and i felt so much pressure and stress.  having a newborn is an insane journey but tack on all the variable factors of boobs, nipples, baby, latch, sleep, milk production… man there is no way you DON’T feel inadequate.  it literally took me about 4-4.5 months to figure out that schedules for pumping and breastfeeding are different and formula (and which to buy) is its own beast.  thanks to all my mommy friends and blogs~~ i’m finally able to put together a short summary and i hope it helps you!

*note, these are just not my experiences and i am NO EXPERT*

BREASTFEEDING

–breastfeeding is HARD ya’ll.  you go to the classes, the nurses help you in the hospital, there are tons of books/videos on it… but it is still so confusing.  even now i’m not sure i’m doing it right or i keep learning new things about it.  i’m guessing that’s just the journey of the new mama?

–there are tons of drinks/foods to consume to help you produce milk.  i’m not sure how much each helps but i took fenugreek pills, drank TONS of mother’s milk tea, ate flax seed everything, and ate tons of seaweed soup.  I think being hydrated helped me the most.  my friends all raved about oatmeal and how that is HUGE… but i couldn’t really get into it.  maybe next time?

–the more you feed the more you produce.  so the more the baby sucks on your raw nipples (pardon the language), the more you will produce.  GRRRREAT.

–i took a break from nursing and pumped exclusively for a while b/c nursing was just SO MESSY.  C would take breaks from drinking and i would literally spray EVERYWHERE.  it was gross, smelly and a waste of my precious milk!  i was making so little to begin with, i felt like i couldn’t afford the wasted oz just spraying everywhere.  for this one, i had to just accept that this would happen if i wanted to nurse and bond with baby C.  so…much to my annoyance, i just had an extra breast pad out or a little towel to spray into when C took her breaks.  Soon as she got older she took less breaks and fed more so it wasn’t as cray. (one super big tip that i wish someone would have told me was that spraying into a towel or breastpad was OK and NORMAL.  i thought i was the only one going through that so it took me a really long time to figure this out.)

–for me, BF was both a beautiful journey and the most exhausting thing ever.  i LOVED the sweetness, intimacy and quiet time we had together.  there is nothing more gratifying that having a milk drunk baby pass out from drinking your milk.  i loved holding her against my skin and praying over her and her future.  those are memories i cherish and those are the times i was really glad i tried BF again.  the things i will NOT miss?  alllll the nasty clothes/bras/stains.  bleh.

–i BF from birth till about 3 weeks, then pumped exclusively, then BF again at 4.5 months (while pumping at work) and then had to give up BF again at about 9 months when c thought biting me was HIL-ARIOUS.  i pumped after that until my body shut down and said, “nope, not doing this anymore”.

PUMPING

–as a working mom, this is seriously the best of both worlds (IF your work place is supportive).  you get to feed your baby breastmilk but not do the actual feeding which can be hard (latch, baby preference, milk production, etc).

–i really liked knowing exactly how many oz i pumped and exactly how many oz C was drinking.  it was SO MUCH EASIER than the ambiguous BF times.

–it was nice to have someone else be able to feed c good ol BM if i wasn’t around.  i became super obsessed with BM and BF after i started up again.  it felt REALLY GREAT to feed her by breast or bottle each day and know that she’s only getting the best nutrition.

–the most painful part about pumping is that you have to carry your pump everywhere if you’re not doing your usual thang.  i had 1 manual pump in my car and one in the baby bag for emergencies.  i had to carry my pump, bottles and a cooler wherever i went.  SO NO FUN.  worth it, but so not fun.  it was much easier to whip out a boob with your baby than to excuse yourself for 30 min and pump in a stall in the ladies.  gross.

–i will never miss carrying 5 bags to work and constantly stressing out about milk temps.  hallelujah.

–i’ve pumped in the car while driving multiple times.  it’s awkward, funny and messy.  but a mama does what she must right?

–HUGE HUGE HUGE lesson i had to learn, pumping exclusively is its own beast.  you cannot compare it with mamas who do both or who breastfeed exclusively.  there are AWESOME websites out there that will help answer questions and help you with some weird differences: click here and here.

BF AND PUMPING

–hardest part about both is having to have a special diet for your consuming baby.  caffeine and foods that can cause gas are SO FREAKING DELICIOUS.

–both are just messy.  one wrong spill or leak is just gross.  i wish i could do a nursing bra burning party with other moms.  for now it’ll just be a party of one this week.

–stopping both as a working mom is LIBERATING.  when i started to ween and didn’t have to bring 5 bags into work with me… i felt like a new person.  i felt SO FREE.

–best part of both is that your baby gets nutritious breastmilk~~ and the bond you have baby have is unreal.

–another hard part… living your life and determining your clothes based on your breastfeeding/pumping schedule.  SO darn hard.

FORMULA

–we tried a bunch of different formulas and C only liked a couple.  she liked sensitive tummy ones the best.  right now we’re giving her enfamil sensitive and it’s been great.  i heard lots and lots of great things about similac and earth’s best too.

–we supplemented with formula since c was born.  i never made enough breastmilk and i didn’t want her to starve while my body “caught up” so we gave her about 1 bottle of formula a day.  i try my best to give her only breastmilk but that doesn’t always happen so we always have formula on hand.  this is especially helpful when the baby goes through growth spurts or is sick and nursing/feeding more.

–there’s the liquid formula (pre-made) and there is also powdered.  i prefer the powdered b/c it doesn’t stain C’s clothes, liquid seems like it has lots of preservatives, it’s less expensive and i like that i can put it in my own bottles.  of course you can pour the liquid in the bottle of your choice but still…and the liquid form is SUPER THICK.  don’t like that…

–pros to formula are that anyone can feed the baby, it’s easy to travel with, you don’t have to worry about the mess or hassle of BF or P.  it’s all just easy peasy.  it’s really easy to measure and know how much your babe is drinking.  GREAT when sending your little one to daycare.

–con is the price and it’s not as nutritious as BM…BUT dude this stuff is SOO easy and almost as nutritious.

 

What worked in the Blair home was a combo of breastfeeding, pumping AND formula.  I didn’t make enough milk and I wasn’t going to stress out or starve my baby because of it.  I made what I could, I pumped when I wasn’t with C, I breastfeed her when I was, and if she was still hungry we gave her formula.  I know that many people say that if i kept her on my boob eventually my body would catch up, but man, this mom this is already life changing and hard.  there are one million hormones going through my body, i’m already stressed out with going back to work and finding a new groove for our family~~ a starving crying baby shouldn’t be one of my stressors.

the next time around, i plan on drinking 10x more water, eating oatmeal and trying to use the hospital grade pump in the hospital to help jump start and maintain my milk production.  BUT if i still only make a tiny amount like w C~ i’m gonna do the best i can to give it to her and then supplement the rest with formula.  (judgey eyes look away)

the biggest lesson i learned is that you have to do whatever is best for you, your family and your baby.  if going straight to formula is better, then do it.  if you can breastfeed at home for a year 1 do it, if mixing all three above worked (like it did for us), then werk it.  no other mom, blog, podcast or stranger can tell you what is best for YOU and YOUR family.  that is one thing i have learned over this last year~~ everyone can have opinions and judgey eyes (i’m SO guilty of this) but in the end, we’re all different and there are SO MANY factors to raising a child that you just gotta do you. =D

this was a long ass post.  sorry guys.  hopefully it helped you out and made some decisions easier for you! xoxo

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