This is my “controversial” topic post. I have gotten a lot of criticism for pumping exclusively for my twins. It has always caught me off guard and made me uncomfortable when complete strangers walk up to me at the grocery store and ask me if I breastfeed or formula feed my babies. I would never ask any one that, ever. So, why do other people feel the need to ask. Futhermore, why inthe hell do I feel the need to tell people I pump? Why do I answer like that? Well, because I’m honest. But I might as well tell people I put milk in a trough and feed my babies that by the looks I get. Pumping is my choice and now I have turned it into a game. How long can I really go on like this? Well, right now my goal is until they are weaned.
I will admit that pumping is by the far the hardest thing I have ever done in my whole life. It is a sheer commitment (like I should commit myself to an insane asylum). My babies were born 5 weeks premature. I felt compelled to be able to give them breast milk, but had no desire to actually have them latch on . It’s not that my babies wouldn’t latch, I simply never tried. I just did not want to do it and I had every intention on returning to work after my “maternity leave” (I put that in quotes because that is a tirade for another day). In the hospital I was immediately bombarded by lactation consultants, who were actually supportive of my decision to pump, but they wanted to start me pumping immediately. And I was exhausted. After being up for 36 hours and pushing out two humans the last damn thing I wanted to do was try to pump. But in all honesty I was scared. In retrospect, I wish I would have. I have read countless pumping sites that say you should start pumping within hours of delivery to maintain a good milk supply. But I did not and I will tell you I do have quite a good milk supply as is, so it is what it is.
I started my pumping adventure with the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On the Go Tote. I pumped every time my babies ate, which put me on a schedule of pumping every three hours for about 15 minutes at a time. My milk supply was just not what I needed for it to be. I was pumping about 4oz every three hours. This was not going to feed my hungry little monsters and quite frankly it hurt. I read up on the subject and read that eating oatmeal helps boost your supply. So, I started making overnight oatmeal. It is quite delicious. I used 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup almond milk, a tablespoon of peanut butter, fruit and a little bit of honey. You make it the night before and then pop it in the microwave in the morning and YUM!! This helped maybe a little bit. Doing research I found that adding a supplement like fenugreek or blessed thistle would help boost supply although I read mixed reviews. Nonetheless I started taking a supplement to boost my supply. I started ordering UpSpring Milkflow All-Natural Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle Capsules, 100 Count. I take two tablets in the morning and one at dinner time. I truly believe this boosted my supply by at least 1-2 oz per pump. The Medela pump was just not performing like I would have liked and it hurt my nipples (causing them to be red, sensitive and at times bleeding regardless of the settings I would try). Even with applying Palmers Cocoa Butter Nursing Cream 1.1 oz. after every pumping session. I love this product, it was gentle and it really did soothe the cracks from pumping. I called Medela to discuss my issues and they recommended a hospital grade pump, which is what in an ideal world I would have wanted from the getgo. I called Babies R Us about renting one, and it just was not feasible since I did not return to work. So, I went into researching. I then stumbled upon a Groupon for a Spectra S2 hospital grade pump. I went on Amazon to research and found that there price was even $20.00 cheaper than Groupon. I started reading the reviews. A lot of twin moms had commented and strongly recommended the pump not just because it boosted their supply but because it felt better than any other pump they had tried. This intrigued me. If I was going to be pumping every three hours, would it be worth investing in a new pump? HELL YES IT WOULD! And the cherry on the sundae was that the pump was only $133.00. But at that price it would have to be too good to be true right? I was willing to take the gamble. I never thought I would be so excited to get a breast pump. I have Amazon Prime so I anxiously waited for the two days it took to arrive. At this point my babies were already 3.5 months old. I pretty much thought my milk supply was what it was. I was probably getting around 35-38 ounces of milk per day, which if I was supplying for one baby would be great. But that was not the case. And if any mom is pumping she may relate to how I was feeling. I felt because I could not supply enough for both babies I was failing. I did not like supplementing them with two formula bottles a day. I tried the Spectra pump as soon as it arrived (after washing of course). I was pleasantly surprised with how it felt. There are tons of different settings from the intensity of the vacuum to the cycle. Which is different from the Medela pump. I think the Spectra pump elicits the let-down response much better. After the first time using it I noticed an extra ounce in each collection cup. I thought maybe it was a fluke. It definitely was not. On average now I get around 7oz total for each pump. I have increased my supply to 48oz-55oz per day. I think the range in days is not a factor of the pump but of my environment. Let’s face it I pretty much run on caffeine and adrenalin most days. I would recommend this pump for twin moms until I blue in the face. About a month after my purchase I notice that one of the backflow valves was not working correctly. I contact the company and they overnighted me new parts. This was much easier than the process and the rigmarole I went through with Medela when the whole motor was going out on my pump. The different settings plus the actual flanges on this pump I think make this pump far superior to that of Medela. But I am also not small chested. The factory Medela flanges just did not work for me. My spectra pump came with two different size flanges and I did not have to pay extra.
Exclusively pumping sincerely is no joke. I do it because I strongly believe in the benefits of breast milk. But I would be lying if the was the only reason. My boys still get one formula bottle a day. They are on Enfamil Gentlease. Have you priced formula? I am not sure how people manage to pay for all that formula with twins. We would be on the street. So I also do it to save money. Even then we are still paying around $70 in formula a month. I do get the $5.00 checks from Enfamil but it is still darn expensive. I think another big boost in my supply was from simply not backing down on how many times I pump a day.. Many of the blogs I have read the mom scaled back on how many times she pumped per day depending on how often the babies eat. My babies now eat 4 times a day 7oz at each feeding about. But I still pump 7 times a day for 20 minutes each time, including one in the middle of the night. It is completely crazy and complete dedication. It’s not for the faint of heart. My babies do not get up in the middle of the night to feed anymore yet I still get up, some days I’m convinced I am crazy. But as I said it is a huge way to save money. I could at this point cut back but I am scared of how it would affect my supply and I have managed to get a small stock pile in the freezer. So, for now I will continue to do what I need to do.
I could go on about exclusviely pumping because I do not think there is enough support out there for us. I don’t want to ramble. So, I welcome anyone that has anyone questions!