Breastfeeding vs Pumping: my experience as a mom who has done both

From the time I first got pregnant I was sure that, if I could, I was going to breastfeed my baby. I certainly don’t judge moms who choose not to, or who are not able to, but I knew it was important to me for my own reasons. I wanted to do what I thought was best for my baby, to bond with him and really to save money.


There we were in the hospital and I was trying so hard to feed him, but his blood sugar was so low and he wasn’t getting anything from me, so we had no choice but to give him formula. While the nurses bottle fed him I sat with a pump on for a half hour only to produce a few drops. When we went home I kept trying to nurse him, supplemented with bottles of formula and kept pumping trying to get my milk to come in. Finally after so much frustration and about a week of trying  I was pumping and it just all started pouring out. I was then able to stop supplementing with formula and exclusively breastfeed. If I’m being honest, I hated it. It was so painful, he didn’t latch well, and he constantly wanted to eat. I remember in the breastfeeding class I took they went on and on about how little babies need in the beginning, well no disrespect to the nurses but they were wrong when it comes to my kids! My huge baby could and did eat a lot!

After only maybe a month (if that) I was feeling so broken, exhausted and in so much pain I decided to pump and give him bottles to give my body a break. I felt like it was so much easier so I decided to stick with it and I exclusively pumped and bottle fed Brayden for 7 months. Because of this I was totally over producing and would pump about 60 ounces a day (double what he ate) so I was able to freeze so much that we had several months worth when I eventually stopped. There were pros and cons to doing it this way.

Pros

  • For me it felt easier and so much less painful
  • People were able to help feed baby and give me a much needed break
  • Baby was still getting breast milk and that’s what I wanted for him
  • We could keep track of how much he ate

Cons

  • The biggest struggle was finding the time. When I had to sit down and pump for 20+ minutes, baby would cry. I would end up having to wait for him to be asleep, or sit him in the bouncy chair while I held his bottle for him and had the pump going.
  • Taking the pump with me everywhere. It’s just one extra thing to carry (on top of all the other baby stuff)
  • My husband would try to help by feeding the baby during the night, but I would still have to get up and pump

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With my second baby I knew that there was no way I would be able to pump the way I did the first time around. It was hard enough to find the time with one kid, but with a baby and a two year old I knew it would be impossible.

This time I think my body knew what to do and my milk came in right away and we didn’t have to supplement at all, and I know that made a big difference in my confidence. The first few weeks were still a struggle, but I was so determined this time that I stuck it out. Now Bode is almost seven months old and we’ve got it down and it is working out great for us. I struggled at first with overproducing so I had to pump before bed, and ended up with mastitis, but after about 3 months my body has regulated and I haven’t had many more issues. In fact I have basically ditched the pump completely! On the occasion that we go out without him he can have formula, and if we are going to be more than a few hours I do bring the pump in case I need it. It is such a bonding experience and I love the way he looks at me when I’m feeding him. It’s like this ‘thank you mommy, I love you so much’ and I just know that he is appreciating what I’m doing for him. I’m also proud of myself!

Pros

  • It’s convenient, no bottles (less dishes) and I can feed him anywhere any time
  • It gives us lots of time to bond and relax together

Cons

  • It’s painful at first and can take a while to get in a routine
  • You are the one and only person that can feed them, and now that we try to give him bottles if I want to go anywhere, he doesn’t want to take them
  • Mastitis… ouch! (but this can happen either way)

For me breastfeeding the second time has been so much easier, and maybe in part because it had to be. I never judge moms for how they choose to feed their babies, and it drives me crazy that some people do judge. I work part time and am lucky enough to be able to take my baby with me with the help of my mom to watch him, making this all possible. I hear so often from moms that it didn’t work out for them, and that’s fine, but if it’s something you want to do I would urge you to stick it out as long as you can and try different methods. Maybe, like my first time, you just need to give your body time to catch up to your baby.

I love my babies, and I love being able to give them everything they need, but I can’t wait to be done breastfeeding! I look forward to not picking an outfit based on accessibility, wearing a normal bra, and having my body back to normal. I’m sure I’ll miss it when it’s over though.

If you have any questions for me, leave a message and I’d be happy to answer!

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3 thoughts on “Breastfeeding vs Pumping: my experience as a mom who has done both

    1. Thank you! I hate judgy moms, we’re all just trying to do our best in our own way! And it’s not easy, sometimes I think the hardest part of having a 3rd baby (if that ever happens) will be breastfeeding again

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