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Breastfeeding Burnout

I love breastfeeding. I really do. I thought it was something I would just put up with a few months before switching to formula, but I’ve actually enjoyed it. I have a Breastfeeding Diaries blog I’ve been keeping over at Bravado Designs, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to exclusively breastfeed my daughter for more than three months now. But now this duty is becoming my demon.

Before having Little J I set a personal goal to breastfeed her for three months, during my maternity leave. That didn’t mean I’d exclusively breastfeed her, or that I wouldn’t supplement at times, but it ended up being to where I didn’t need to supplement. In fact, I build up a stash of more than 200 frozen ounces of breast milk to use once I returned to work.

But the stash I speak of is one that is to be used for emergencies, and only taken from when it’s about to expire and it’s replaced with, fresh pumped milk for the day. This stash is now beginning to drive me crazy.

My first week back at work I was able to find time to take a pump break, usually two, during the day. I would pump about seven ounces a session, then nurse my daughter during my lunch breaks. That got old fast. I felt like I was lactating more than I was working. That’s saying something, considering I sometimes work 55 hours a week.

I like feeling like I’m doing something for my daughter when I’m away from her, but it can be a difficult battle. Set up to take down takes me about 25 minutes. I felt guilty taking an extra 50 minutes out of my schedule to pump. Sometimes I’d try to take my laptop with me so I could keep working but that felt awkward.
So I cut back a little and pumped once at work, and fed her during my break. But then my supply started to dip. So I brought my pump home on the weekends and would pump after Lil’ J went to sleep to try to get it back up to where it was.
Now, I pump six ounces during my shift, feed her during my lunch break, and then pump once more before I go home, and if I’m lucky, I get another five ounces. So I’m bringing home 11 ounces of expressed milk a day, plus feeding her during my break, and get this… She STILL wants more!
She can eat about 13 ounces of pumped milk while I’m away. Which on my 12 hour days is understandable, but on my 9 hour shifts, I’m a little confused. Regardless, imagining myself doing this routine for the next nine months is awfully daunting.
I’ve been counting down to the day that I can start giving her cereal and baby food/purees, whatever the crap you want to call it, but people tell me babies still drink as much milk when they start solids, and that food isn’t a supplement for breastmilk or formula. Now this kinda ticks me off because I was count on this–Just gotta make it to six months–I kept telling myself. But who knew that star I’ve been shooting for may still be out of reach.

My friend Emily, over at Baby Dickey is hosting a series of blog parties Monday nights and I plan on asking the “baby expert” about babies and food.

Now I know there’s no need to panic because of my huge milk stash, but we’re slowly chipping away at it. Based on my prediction 200 ounces, using 2 a day, it should be gone in about 100 days, or 3 months give or take a week or two. Oh, and that’s if she doesn’t start drinking more.
When coming to this realization I’ve had a mix of helpful reactions in response. Some say “yea, I wasn’t pumping enough so we supplemented some, no big deal.” And there were others who recommend all sorts of teas, herbs and remedies to help with my “Milk Misfortune.” And to be honest, I don’t want remedies.
I want to just enjoy breastfeeding my daughter when I’m with her. I don’t want to have to stress about pumping enough every day, then yell at my husband for pulling from the freezer stash when I didn’t pump enough. I don’t want to feel like I’m being a slacker at work because I need to pump every 2-3 hours. Then feel like a slacker at home when it’s still not enough.
From my understanding some women are able to breastfeed at home when they’re with their baby even if they’re not pumping when they’re away. I don’t want to feel guilty if I run out and need to supplement. I don’t want to drive myself crazy trying medications, acupuncture, and voodoo tricks to increase my supply. I already eat a ton of oatmeal every morning for breakfast because someone told me it helps. But I also worry part of me will feel guilty for not giving everything else a try before giving her her first bottle of formula.
I want to find some kind of balance between keeping the bliss of breastfeeding, but loosing the fear of failing.
Maybe the realization of needing to supplement will be easier to cope with once she’s started to eat cereal and other things that don’t come from me. At six months we’ll be starting her on solids and if I’m still unable (or unwilling) to keep up with her needs while I’m away, maybe the sting won’t hurt as bad since she’ll already be getting other sources of food.
I don’t know if I’m just sensitive because it’s my first child, and maybe I’ll be more laid back next time or what. But I’ve never felt like my worth was hanging over a single responsibility as much as I do now.
I just hope I can find a way to loose the stress and bring back love as the main emotion in breastfeeding.


Maria says:

Even nursing for a day is an accomplishment.

You are right that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. A good guideline is 1.5-2 oz of breastmilk per hour you are away from her. If you can’t keep up and you don’t want to deal with trying to boost your supply, you can still nurse her when you’re home with her.

If you like oatmeal, try eating it as much as you can stand. You may notice an increase in supply without having to deal with supplements etc. 🙂

wk says:

Oh, no! I’m so sorry this is stressing you out. It’s so hard…I work 40 hours a week, with 65 mile commute each way, so it adds up to a lot of hours. I totally understand feeling like you spend the whole day in the “mommy” room, pumping, while everyone wonders where you are and why you aren’t working (or so it seems.)

I think it sounds like you are doing A WONDERFUL JOB at putting your baby’s best interests first. One of the benefits of BF is that it is easier in some ways (always there, always fresh, convenient, etc.) but that does not in any way mean that it is always easy. It’s a huge commitment, and a lot of work sometimes, so please give yourself a pat on the back from me.

Yasmel says:

Congratulations on exclusively breastfeeding this long. It is rewarding.
I went back to work when my son was 8 weeks old. I took my lunch hour and divided it into 20 mins. breaks. I bought 3 pumping sets, like that I didn’t have to wash anything in between. They were already set to be used with the bottle attached and everything. I would put my alarm clock on so I could relax for those 20 mins. and not stress out.
Once done I would put the bottles away in the office fridge and I did not separate the milk until I got to the daycare.
I used to pump about 15 to 20 ounces in these 3 sessions. It was enough to feed my child and donate to two babies.

Make sure your baby is not being overfed. I had to always remind the daycare staff to check his diaper, carry him, give him his pacifier, pay attention to him before offering the bottle.
He would only take about 8 ounces at daycare but he nursed all night long lol. And I was happy for that, it kept my supply up.

What you can do on weekends is pump one side while you nurse the baby on the other side. That will get you the most milk.

Good luck, you are doing an awesome job. Your baby will only be little once and you will miss these times.

Jennydran says:

I can totally relate to your situation and feel very much in the same boat. Every day is a constant battle to pump enough milk for my daughter for the day and it takes me at least 4-5 sessions to get her day’s worth. Some days I only get to pump once at work, most days it’s twice. On weekends I nurse constantly and help build the supply up again for the week but it is sooo overwhelming and stressful to have to worry about the milk situation AND your work stress at the same time. I too, thought that once babies started solids, they didn’t need as much breastmilk. So I have to keep on producing the same amount until she is 6 months, but won’t she eventually need more milk as she grows? That’s what I worry about. It’s hard enough for me to get the 12 oz. each day! And my freezer stash is nothing to brag about, it’s quite sad actually. I should have taken it more seriously in the beginning than I did. Also, my daughter took a long time to gain weight and was actually losing weight in the beginning so we did have to supplement from about 3 weeks until right around week 9 we stopped and exclusively she has breastfed and no supplements since August. I was so happy to get to that point, but now I worry about making enough milk day to day for these bottles. I love breastfeeding too, but could REALLY do w/o the pumping! Good luck!

Rixa says:

Hugs to you….

One thing to keep in mind is that babies tend to overfeed when they drink from a bottle–whether formula or breastmilk–but do not do so at the breast. In other words, Lil’ J will continue to take milk from a bottle *after* she has filled her stomach, but she will not do this at the breast. (This has to do with how bottles transfer milk and I won’t get into the complicated explanation of why & how right now). In other words, she might appear like she wants to keep eating and eating from the bottle when in fact she’s had enough to eat.

Babies will take in less milk as they eat more solids (after 6 months–if you start solids earlier they aren’t able to digest it anyway). But at first they don’t eat all that much, so it’s a gradual process as the baby takes in more food and less milk.

Hang in there and just keep doing your best. You have a legally protected right to pump at work, so don’t feel guilty about doing so! Think of it this way–breastfeeding her will keep her healthier and thus keep you from needing to take more time off work when/if she gets sick.

You’re doing great, your baby is thriving, you have a supportive husband and are able to nurse her on lunch breaks. That in itself is such a blessing, no matter what else ends up happening with pumping!

MommyX's3 says:

i totally get where you are coming from, trying to keep your supply up can be a chore at times when ever you life becomes hectic. i took fenugreek and it completely helped solve my lack in supply. It is completely natural and easy to remember to take and you can see a difference very quickly. Maybe this is something you could try. b/c when i took it i was able to pump less but still get a good amount when i did b/c my supply was so high. It also helps you get at ease about your supply and breastfeeding b/c you can always tell you have milk while your taking this herbal supplement.

-mary aka mommyx’s3
breastfeeding baby # 3 since May 17, 2010

Claire says:

Hang in there!! You CAN do it, you CAN make your goal, but you should also let yourself feel Ok about whatever choice or route you go. BOTH mom AND baby have to be happy to have a happy nursing relationship, if you are ending up stressed or worried, is that healthy?

I will say, that I’ve been exclusively nursing for.. hm. almost 5 years now! (Geeze!) 2 boys, through pregnancy & then tandem. It has not always been a beautiful ride!! The points where I felt frustrated or angry had to be weighed with how much I felt I needed to continue nursing. For me, *MY* needs need to be met too, and nursing can be quite a “give give” relationship ( especially after this long!)

I know you will get tons of advice & remedies, and I know how overwhelming those choices are, and you don’t want a remedy, but, I would consider trying fenugreek capsules. Easy to take( pop 2 with your prenatal in the AM) really effective & safe way to majorly boost your supply. Who knows, maybe that would give your supply a easy boost, you’ll get more to pump ( in less time due to the more milk!) and you’ll have it all ready to go in full supply “from the tap” for your one on one nursing with your love bug. The way I figure, is that is a pretty simple effective route many women go, what do you have to lose by trying it? If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t, but if it did, how great would that be to have found a quick simple fix that swooped all these issues away?
If it doesn’t, then you can reassess, but if it did, how great!

I am planning to become an IBCLC, after all MY experiences!
So, if you need an ear, please feel welcome to shoot me an e-mail!
Either way, do what feels best for you, guilt is no fun to feel, so make the choice for yourself, not based on the advice you get here.
((hugs))
(sorry for the ramble!)

Emily says:

Thanks for the party shoutout.

Shari had answered some related questions at the parties you missed 😉 She said that babies max out at around 4oz per feeding… they may try to drink more if it’s there, just because it’s harder for them to regulate when it comes from a bottle. So honestly, I’d only put 3-4oz in a bottle during a feeding. She may cry at first when the bottle gets empty, but wait a minute or two and she’ll probably be just fine. So Shari also said that eventually, that’s all you’ll be pumping too – 4 oz – because your body regulates to what baby needs. I used to get 8-9oz at a time, now I get around 5. I know pumping every day sucks (been there) and I know it’s stressful to worry if baby is getting enough. Take it one day at a time! When she’s ready for food, she’ll show signs and it’ll be easier for your hubby to hold her off with food while you’re at work – until you can get home and nurse her. Your supply may dip with less feedings, but your body will recognize that at 7am and 12pm and 5pm (or whenever), it’s feeding time. Good luck!

Emily @ Baby Dickey

Heather says:

First, you’re doing great! Exclusive breastmilk for the first 6 months and then a mixture of food and breastmilk for the next 6 months is what’s best and you seem like you want to work toward this goal. Try it for a little longer, and don’t feel guilty about the (less than an) hour a day you take out of your schedule to do something great for your baby. The more you relax the easier it will be to let down and get more milk from these pumping sessions- and to relax you can’t stress about how much you’re pumping.
But above all- remember that you’re doing something great for your daughter.
Personal experience- I didn’t breastfeed my first two very long at all, and I supplemented with formula. This time around, my son has been exclusively breastfed for 6 weeks now, going on more. My goal is a year. More, if he’ll let me 🙂 I feel guilty now that I didn’t give my first two mama’s milk, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. Just ‘food’ for thought 😉

*hugs* BIG BIG HUGS!!!

You don’t need to feel guilty! You are doing everything you can, Mama! This isn’t about feeling guilty or not. The important thing is that you are nourishing your daughter. And you are. If you end up needing to supplement, that’s ok! You can do this. You are doing this!

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/milkcalc.html

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/milkcalc.html#toomuchlittle

It sounds like your caregiver might be overfeeding your little nubbins on expressed milk. Breastfed babies are funny in that when they take a bottle, they often end up overeating, because they don’t know how to stop the flow of milk from the nipple! Make sure your caregiver is using a slow flow nipple, that will ensure the bubba is having to work for it, and isn’t getting so much milk that she doesn’t even know she’s full before it’s all in her tummy. Kellymom’s milk calculator is useful that way.

Now, my poor dear, just a couple things. First off, don’t beat yourself up for pumping at work! The US Government made it law because it’s important work, just as important as any other job. Breastfeeding your baby is good for the economy, good for the environment, and good for the health care system. The longer your baby breastfeeds or has your breast milk, the less illnesses she (and you!) are likely to get. When she does get sick, the duration is much shorter. So you are actually potentially saving yourself from having to take sick days from work to look after her, or you. Thus, you benefit your work place and the economy, by keeping you at work more days! Ecologically speaking, breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for the environment. There is little to no waste, and the environmental footprint of breasrdeeding is very low. Health care speaking, there is your health and the baby’s to consider in the short term, as well as the long term. She will be healthier in the long run, miss less days from work, and cost the health system much less. You are doing the world a favour, as well as your baby and yourself. I wish I had your supply, I am lucky if I get 3 ounces during a pumping session during the day! I had a severe supply dip at 7 months when I quit taking all the herbs and such, so my doctor recommended domperidone. Honestly, it’s so much easier, and it’s rated L1 (totally safe for baby and you!). 30 mg 3 times daily is the trick, and you can feel your supply suddenly jump within one to 7 days. It’s wonderful!

We are lucky in Canada because we get a year full maternity leave. I think it’s amazing and admirable that you are giving this gift to your baby! She is so lucky to have such a dedicated mama. Check out the book The Milk Memos, about mommies who breastfeed and work. I find it inspiring too, maybe you can relate!

I wrote almost exactly this same post two years ago when I went back to work after my 12 week leave. All I can tell you is that A.) you should absolutely NOT feel guilty about taking as much time as you need to pump during the day. Not only is it your right, but it is a biological need, and taking care of your child is the total and complete opposite of “slacking.” Pumping for your baby makes you a supermom – NOT a slacker. B.) This CAN be done. I never supplemented once, and my nearly 10 lb baby ate non-stop. It wasn’t easy, and yes, I was stressed all the time (I was also in school full time at night AND had another job) but after that year was over, getting through it all remains one of my proudest accomplishments to date. I think we stress far too much about it while we’re going through it, and we don’t realize that if we just follow the steps (pumping enough during the day, breastfeeding when we’re with baby, maybe doing some reverse cycling) then it will work out. It doesn’t need to be stressed over. Stress – btw – is the number one supply killer, so there’s one reason alone to stop, breathe, and regroup.

If you need any inspiration, here you go: http://thefeministbreeder.com/full-time-worker-full-time-student-full-time-breastfeeder-too/

Brooke says:

First off I think the fact that you are working more then full time and exclusively breastfeeding her is just wonderful! You have done her so much good and yourself as well. Did you know that women who breastfeed for at least 6 months cut there risk of breast cancer by over %50!! Anywhoo. Are you feeling pressured from coworkers about pumping or is it just your own personal work ethic getting the best of you? It doesn’t sound like you are pumping a crazy amount of time. I only work 6 hours at the most and I still pump at least once per shift and my son is almost 10 months old. It sounds like you have a great stash and a good milk supply. Dont stress about digging into your freezer stash, that’s what its for. If you have time to pump extra at night go for it but I think you are right about love needing to be the main emotion here. I dont get excited about supplementing formula at all if it can be helped that is just my honest opinion. I dont want to start the whole formula vs breastmilk debate but I do strongly believe that breastmilk is perfect 😉
I think you have the right attitude about the whole thing. Bring on the love Mama! lol
As far as solids go. We started C on some avocado when he was about 5 1/2 months. Rice cereal is what is usually suggested but doctors are finding that the carbohydrates are actually harder to digest then fruits or veggies for babies first food. It seems the rice cereal has just been more of a tradition and is not necessarily the best thing to start out on.
I make C his food by steaming his food may it be carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, ect and then I blend it in the blender till its smooth. Since J will be just starting you can add some of the leftover steaming water to the food in the blender to make it soupier. A great investment for you kitchen is to actually buy a steamer. It makes the whole process sooo much easier and you will use it for many other things. There are my little tips for babyfood making. I think people get freaked out about making there own because it sounds labor intensive but it really only takes me about 30 minutes a week. I freeze it in ice cube trays and then put those in a ziploc in the fridge, perfect little one ounce portions! Well you have a couple months before you try all that but I thought it might encourage you to know that the whole solid food thing is fun!

Mommy Bee says:

As you know, I’m very pro-breastfeeding, to the point that I think I probably warrant the title ‘hardcore lactavist’ and so on.
BUT here is my thought:
Breastfeeding needs to be a positive thing for both of you. If you are starting to resent it (or the pumping) then it’s causing stress and that’s not good for either of you. I would recommend that
1–you nurse as usual, and pump on your breaks, but go ahead and dip into that frozen stash as much as you need/want to. Don’t sweat about replacing it, just use it.
2–if you use up the stash in 3 months, well, that’s about the age she’ll be able to add solids into her diet, to go with what you’re pumping on your breaks. Seems like perfect timing to me–no need to re-build the stash.

Think about needs vs wants. Right now, at 3m old, your milk is a need for her. At 6m it will be a need. At 12m or even 24m it will still do her good, but it won’t be a need in the same way that it is now. And at that point I would also say that the *amount* that she gets is a lot more ‘want’ than it is ‘need.
For you to be able to continue breastfeeding, obviously you’ll want to do some pumping–to maintain supply and relieve engorgement. However, from what you’re saying I don’t think you NEED a bigger supply. If you WANT to do that, go for it. But if you don’t want to, don’t feel guilty about it. Like I said, I think your frozen stash is sufficient and you’ll both be fine.

Marcy says:

I feel for you. =(

I breastfed my kiddo for just over a year. At times I *loved* it… other times, I hated it. I had a different issue than yours– I stay at home, and my baby refused all bottles. So all his feedings HAD to come straight from the tap, every 2-3 hours, for a full 14 months. That means mama got very little away-from-baby time, which was a challenge.

Having big, far-off goals can be VERY daunting. Maybe instead of thinking of it as 9 more months of all this pumping, you can continue to set mini-goals for yourself. You hit your 3 month mark.. maybe make a goal to keep at it for 1 more month, or until she’s 6 months old. Then, re-evaluate. Maybe by then you’ll have gotten more efficient at the whole pumping bit, or won’t mind it as much. Or maybe you’ll be truly ready to stop. But having those smaller, more manageable goals might make it a bit easier for you to keep it up for now, and then keep re-evaluating as you meet them.

Only you can make the decision of how much longer you’ll breastfeed, or how much. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about whatever you decide to do. You’ve already done a great thing by exclusively breastfeeding for 3 months. Whether you continue to pump/breastfeed or not, you are a wonderful mother who obviously cares deeply about her daughter, and that’s really what matters most.

Huggles, I hope you are able to find a way to balance enjoying feeding your daughter and the stress of pumping at work. I’m not a mother, so I feel inadequate to toss advice your direction-but it’s ok not to be superwoman, supermom, superworker and superwife all at once. Hopefully you will get some balanced advice to help you with your struggles.

Huggles, I hope you are able to find a way to balance enjoying feeding your daughter and the stress of pumping at work. I’m not a mother, so I feel inadequate to toss advice your direction-but it’s ok not to be superwoman, supermom, superworker and superwife all at once. Hopefully you will get some balanced advice to help you with your struggles.

Erin says:

I pumped up to a year with both of my boys while working full time. Once they started solids, they *did* take less milk during the day. They made up for it when I was at home, but both of them went down to ~10oz a day at the sitter’s, which made it easy to stay on top of.

p.s. you’re doing a great job!

sssdawna says:

I never knew anything about breastfeeding so this is very educational for me. Thanks for sharing : ) I’m definitely going to point my best friend to your blog since she’s due to have her first child next month!

[ker-AND-uh] says:

I’m feeling the exact same way as of late. Not because of pumping or anything, but because I’m pregnant with baby #2 and with sensitive nipples and just being plain tired, I want to start weaning my babe #1. I feel like it’s not his fault that I’m pregnant and that I shouldn’t punish him for it, but I wonder how long I can keep up. I feel ashamed to even think about it, but alas..here I am. I hope you figure out what works for you and your family. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect..just good enough!! You rock and Lil J will grow and thrive regardless!!!

The Joys... says:

First of all, Congratulations!! Second, you are doing a fantastic job! 200oz is nothing to sneeze at!!!! Think that that is just oz pumped that you are getting into your little one! Not counting all the ounces you’ve put in her when you two are together. That is HUGE!

As you are finding: Pumping is alot of work. Have you tried hands-free pumping? They make bras so that you can pump hands free- would that be an option? You could get work done and pump at the same time.

Have you gotten on LLLI.org message board and talked with some other working Mamas? They might have some great tips and tricks to cutting your pumping prep/cleaning down a lot.
I’ve read a lot of cool things here’s a link to the message board: http://forums.llli.org/index.php
Your feelings are completley understandable. This mothering gig and learning how to balance every thing and deciding what is really important and what needs to just wait, and when to re-evaluate, can you think outside of the box on this issue? Add all that to getting to know your precious brand new human being! Well it’s a huge adjustment! You’re doing a great job.

I’ll add these links in closing:
http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/hands-free-pumping.html
http://www.kellymom.com/bf/weaning/weaning-partial.html
http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/

Listen to your instincts, you can’t do it all- and that is okay, but try to think outside the box…There is always a solution and it will look different for every Mama and every baby!

-Hannah
http://www.mommiejoy.blogspot.com

You are NOT failing your daughter, or your family. Look at what you HAVE DONE so far: you pump, you freeze. You work. You come home on lunch breaks, for goodness’ sakes!

You have given your daughter a great start with the three months…do not think you are a slacker, but do cut YOURSELF some slack!

We do what we can for our children – and, at least to me, it looks like you’ve gone above and beyond.

If you do find you need to supplement, know that it will provide for her nutritional needs – just as your own milk provided for her. And snuggling with a bottle will still provide you with that closeness – so you’ll be providing for her emotional needs, too.

Remember to be kind to yourself…this motherhood thing is not a sprint, it’s a marathon – you’re going to have years to find out what works best for all of you.

Jenna says:

Girl, don’t beat yourself up.

You should not feel bad, EVER, for feeding your child. Whatever it may be. Yes, breast is best. I’m no dummy. But sometimes, let’s be realistic here — it can’t happen. And it’s really nothing to fret over. Formula is a fine, adequate substitute for breastmilk. My daughter ate it from 6 weeks of life until she was nearly 1, and she is truly a genius. I don’t know any other 2-year-olds who can read and write, or count to 100. Now, I’m not saying formula made her brilliant (I like to think it’s in her genes, ahem) but I’m just trying to tell you she has suffered no ill consequences for being formula fed. She has never had an ear infection, whereas my exclusively breastfed baby has already had one and he’s only 6 months old. She has no allergies, but my EBF son is allergic to dairy (which means none for me!).

So, see? The whole “breastfed babies are smarter/healthier/not allergic to anything” philosophy holds no water for my family.

And as for your bond? Your daughter loves you. You sacrificed your whole self just to bring her into this world, and I believe she knows that. You are her mother first and her source of nutrition second. And you can most certainly bond while you bottlefeed! Cuddle up, look into her eyes, sing to her … just the way you would if you were nursing.

I’m not trying to discourage you from breastfeeding. If you want to continue to pump for Lil’ J, by all means, do! It does sound like you have a rather daunting routine, though. So you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons, do some soul-searching and figure out what is going to work.

You’re such a good mom. Don’t worry about what others are doing. Whatever you do is the right thing.

Victoria says:

You sound like a wonderful mama! Your baby is blessed for having a mom who is so thoughtful about these things.

Also, two things pop out at me: (1) You sure don’t sound like a slacker. At all. In any way. At home, or at work. (2) The amount you are pumping/feeding each day tells me that there is NOTHING wrong with your supply. Being able to pump 5-7 ounces in a sitting is impressive. So please don’t think you’re a slacker, and don’t think there is a problem with your supply.

Another thing is that as your baby gets older, she will take less and less milk, even if she isn’t eating many or any solids. Her GI tract will be more mature so the milk won’t just go right through her, and she won’t be growing quite as fast so she won’t need as much milk. Your freezer stash (very impressive, btw) will last longer than you think.

You are doing great! Keep it up, and focus on enjoying and relaxing while you nurse.

Tanashia says:

Bravo for nursing your baby girl this long. Just continue to take it day by day. You will figure out what’s best for you both.

aw mama, I think pumping that much would be so hard!! I think you’re doing such an awesome job pumping like you do!

linlalaland says:

My experience (and I hope it helps): I had a burnout moment around the 3mth mark as well. Then my supply dipped and I freaked out b/c I needed to supplement with formula. I broke down and cried and realized that one day with formula helped me get back on track. I ran out of my freezer supply at 2mths btw. I did the remedies I wanted to do and had time for, Fenugreek, Mother’s Milk, and even power pumping. I realized my dip was mainly b/c 1) my period was coming back STRONG and 2) I didnt eat enough calories. I even wrote on my blog that I felt that I was having an “affair” on my husband with my pump (b/c it got to see my boobs and play with them more than hubby could!!). I didn’t realize until I started food however (end of month 4…2wks ago), that I cant just whip out boob anymore when my child is hungry. I actually have to PLAN MEALS!! Mentally, me and hubs arent ready for that. So it helped me get out of my breastfeeding/pumping funk. There are still times I need to supplement and I am still offering food, I pump 1 bottle short at work, but the wknds with lil man are mine! Good luck with your supply/demand…and dont worry, it’s ok to get burned out. Oh, and normally they don’t increase need on breastmilk for a while if they ever do. My son has been doing 4 4oz (then 3 5oz) bottles since 3mths at daycare (while all the formula kiddies keep increasing their need).

Alexia says:

I know how you feel. I bf my son for 10 months, but had a different job when I had my daughter and could only bf her exculsivly for 5 months because the time it took me to pump was making me stay 1.5 hours later every day at work (I was pumping 3 times as she was eating 3 times while I was at work). I would usually get enough for her next day, but it was stressful. I finally decided at 5 months that I would bf her in the morning before I went to work and then once when I got home from work and right before bed. I had to wean myself from the 3 pumpings so I wouldn’t leak at work, but it ended up being the best solution for both of us…I was less stressed out about the whole feeding situation, and I still got to breastfeed. I think it’s great that you are trying to breastfeed for so long, but remember that you also have to do what is best for both her AND you. Good luck with what ever you decide to do, and don’t worry about what others say…they aren’t you.

Snarky Mom says:

Nursing is such a touchy subject for moms. With my first 2 kids it wasn’t an issue because they were adopted from foster care- nursing was not an option. With my first daughter, I desperately wanted to nurse. She came 5 weeks early and had severe jaundice that made her lethargic. She could not latch properly even after multiple visits to the lactation center and using all the tricks known to man. I exclusively pumped for 4 months until my milk dried up. I was bitter. And sad.

3 years later I had a son. He latched like a champ and nursed exclusively. He nursed for 21 months. I enjoyed it but it became very tedious when he refused to take a bottle or cup until after he was one. I had severe postpartum depression and being tied to him 24 hours a day did not help.

I just gave birth to my second daughter a month ago. She was a month early. She latched on great and nursed like a champ but we had to supplement with formula when she lost more than a pound in her first week of life. I was not as diligent about pumping to keep up my supply and after having a bottle, she would not empty the breast all the way so my supply dried up quickly. I chose not to do all the thousands of remedies to increase my milk. I let her switch to formula. And you know what? I’m okay. I’m not sad. I’m not devestated. I don’t have PPD (at least not at this time). It’s all good. She got 3 weeks of breastmilk and she’s spending some great quality time bonding with her dad when he feeds her. I’m sleeping more than 45 minutes at a time.

Whatever you choose to do- it’s the right decision. Any decision you make is the right decision FOR YOU. Good luck with whatever you decide!

Jennifer says:

Have you thought about nursing when you are at home and supplementing when you aren’t? I’m all about the not stressing. Here’s one of those times that YOU have to decide what’s best for YOUR family and just forget what everyone else says. Think about what YOU think is alright. I promise she’ll be fine.

And based on my experience, food doesn’t cut back on milk. Not until much, much later.

I totally understand your stress with pumping all the time. I had a preemie and spent my first 4 months pumping ALL THE TIME. It was like 6-10 times a day I pumped. It was exhausting – physically and emotionally. But it was the best thing I have ever done for my son. I fought to give him only breast milk, fought to breast feed him, and the little guy really pulled through. He has always been ahead of his age, even when they don’t account for prematurity. And he nursed until he was 18 months old.
And when you think about it, its probably taking about an hour of your day to pump for her. And what’s one hour? It’s nothing in the scheme of her whole life. It’s nothing compared to the benefits that those 60 precious minutes you are giving her. You are blessed to have the means and heart to give her this gift of milk. And you are an awesome mom for being so committed to it.
I know when you are in the “thick” of it all, it can seem overwhelming. I’ve totally been there. But looking back, I have no regrets for all those hours I spent pumping. I knew my son had the best. And it was a great way to just realize that being a mom does mean making sacrifices. This will just be one thing in the scheme of small and large sacrifices you will make in the name of love for your child.

God Bless you both!

Mamasan1968 says:

And don’t forget all those mommy hormones are set up to make you feel bad when you AREN’T taking care of the baby directly. It’s mother nature’s way of trying to ensure that we don’t walk off and leave them in a thicket somewhere. You’ve done plenty! I breastfed and supplemented my first two and they’re fine teenagers now. I didn’t work full time continuously but I did work some. It’s a pain in the neck to pump at work and I wouldn’t have been able to do it long. I pump MUCH less than what they get out themselves.

AmyRyb says:

Please don’t beat yourself up! Supplementing isn’t a bad thing! You’ve done a great job so far and you’ve got a great backup supply. I had none of that and couldn’t pump enough for the number of day feedings I was away for, so I usually sent at least one formula bottle with my son, starting at seven weeks when he went to daycare. Remember that you’re already giving her so much, and most of what she’ll be getting is still breastmilk. If formula lowers youre stress level, it’s worth it…and still not a big cost for as much as you use it. If you’re worried about the transition, you can always mix the two until she’s used to the taste. I also found formula to be much easier to take with us if we were going somewhere where breatfeeding might be awkward (church, etc.). It might take some adjustment for all of you, but seriously, if it stresses you out, formula is not the end of the world. Oh, and I breastfed for a year, pumping 2-3 times a day for most of it. Once you get past three months (and moreso at six months), I found it to be so much easier than the monumental task it felt like at the beginning. Good luck!

Hey, have you read hits artixle? It’s about the “dangers” of the freezer stash & how it can basically excacerbate the problem: http://www.workandpump.com/freezerstash.htm

Kevalyn says:

You’re doing a great job and are so committed. Please don’t stress yourself or beat yourself up. I was home with my daughter for 2 years and I still wasn’t able to exclusively breastfeed because I could never produce enough. Even with formula supplements, she’s now a happy, healthy 10 year old.

Nichole says:

i feel for you! i stress ever day about how much i’m pumping and whether it will be enough. i hate how long pumping takes, but i love that my son gets mommy’s milk. i’m going to wean in a month, which makes me feel anxious, sad and excited, and i’m gradually decreasing the number of sessions i pump each day. on one hand, it’s nice not to have to haul the pump to and from work every day, but i worry constantly over having enough, even tho i have over 300 oz frozen right now.

i really hope you find a balance that works for you, but know that it’s normal to feel so conflicted. when she starts solids, you’ll fret over how much/how often with that as well….

Kierst says:

I had a lot of stress about similar things with my second child. My goal was to nurse exclusively for 6 months. I made it to 4 months. And those 4 months were horrible for me. But I kept trying because I felt bad that I couldn’t provide what he needed. Then when I was so fed up that I was ready to quit, I started feeling guilty that I was going to have a formula fed child (and a formula smelling child). I still felt a little guilty when I stopped nursing completely, but I was feeling so much better in other ways that it balanced out. You should NEVER feel bad about quitting if you have to. You have done great in these last few months. You do the best you can and that’s good enough. But don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it.
I blogged about my breastfeeding experience here: http://www.musicalsmiths.com/blog/2009/08/02/the-truth-about-nursing/

Ana B says:

I never had to work and pump, but please please please don’t quit for the sake of your baby. Don’t feel bad for taking so much time for this at work, your baby is the PRIORITY, nothing can be more important than her health and well being (not to mention breastfeeding is best for YOUR health too). Your supply will only get worse if you worry so much. I feel that formula should really be the last resort when there is absolutely no other option as most formula contains too many chemicals for me to list and it can never substitute breast milk. Slacker? I wouldn’t dare use that word referring to you! You’re doing great, keep up the great work on behalf of your family and your baby!

Kierst says:

I had a lot of stress about similar things with my second child. My goal was to nurse exclusively for 6 months. I made it to 4 months. And those 4 months were horrible for me. But I kept trying because I felt bad that I couldn’t provide what he needed. Then when I was so fed up that I was ready to quit, I started feeling guilty that I was going to have a formula fed child (and a formula smelling child). I still felt a little guilty when I stopped nursing completely, but I was feeling so much better in other ways that it balanced out. You should NEVER feel bad about quitting if you have to. You have done great in these last few months. You do the best you can and that’s good enough. But don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it.
I blogged about my breastfeeding experience here: http://www.musicalsmiths.com/blog/2009/08/02/the-truth-about-nursing/

Hey, have you read hits artixle? It’s about the “dangers” of the freezer stash & how it can basically excacerbate the problem: http://www.workandpump.com/freezerstash.htm

Snarky Mom says:

Nursing is such a touchy subject for moms. With my first 2 kids it wasn’t an issue because they were adopted from foster care- nursing was not an option. With my first daughter, I desperately wanted to nurse. She came 5 weeks early and had severe jaundice that made her lethargic. She could not latch properly even after multiple visits to the lactation center and using all the tricks known to man. I exclusively pumped for 4 months until my milk dried up. I was bitter. And sad.

3 years later I had a son. He latched like a champ and nursed exclusively. He nursed for 21 months. I enjoyed it but it became very tedious when he refused to take a bottle or cup until after he was one. I had severe postpartum depression and being tied to him 24 hours a day did not help.

I just gave birth to my second daughter a month ago. She was a month early. She latched on great and nursed like a champ but we had to supplement with formula when she lost more than a pound in her first week of life. I was not as diligent about pumping to keep up my supply and after having a bottle, she would not empty the breast all the way so my supply dried up quickly. I chose not to do all the thousands of remedies to increase my milk. I let her switch to formula. And you know what? I’m okay. I’m not sad. I’m not devestated. I don’t have PPD (at least not at this time). It’s all good. She got 3 weeks of breastmilk and she’s spending some great quality time bonding with her dad when he feeds her. I’m sleeping more than 45 minutes at a time.

Whatever you choose to do- it’s the right decision. Any decision you make is the right decision FOR YOU. Good luck with whatever you decide!

I totally understand your stress with pumping all the time. I had a preemie and spent my first 4 months pumping ALL THE TIME. It was like 6-10 times a day I pumped. It was exhausting – physically and emotionally. But it was the best thing I have ever done for my son. I fought to give him only breast milk, fought to breast feed him, and the little guy really pulled through. He has always been ahead of his age, even when they don’t account for prematurity. And he nursed until he was 18 months old.
And when you think about it, its probably taking about an hour of your day to pump for her. And what’s one hour? It’s nothing in the scheme of her whole life. It’s nothing compared to the benefits that those 60 precious minutes you are giving her. You are blessed to have the means and heart to give her this gift of milk. And you are an awesome mom for being so committed to it.
I know when you are in the “thick” of it all, it can seem overwhelming. I’ve totally been there. But looking back, I have no regrets for all those hours I spent pumping. I knew my son had the best. And it was a great way to just realize that being a mom does mean making sacrifices. This will just be one thing in the scheme of small and large sacrifices you will make in the name of love for your child.

God Bless you both!

Rixa says:

Hugs to you….

One thing to keep in mind is that babies tend to overfeed when they drink from a bottle–whether formula or breastmilk–but do not do so at the breast. In other words, Lil’ J will continue to take milk from a bottle *after* she has filled her stomach, but she will not do this at the breast. (This has to do with how bottles transfer milk and I won’t get into the complicated explanation of why & how right now). In other words, she might appear like she wants to keep eating and eating from the bottle when in fact she’s had enough to eat.

Babies will take in less milk as they eat more solids (after 6 months–if you start solids earlier they aren’t able to digest it anyway). But at first they don’t eat all that much, so it’s a gradual process as the baby takes in more food and less milk.

Hang in there and just keep doing your best. You have a legally protected right to pump at work, so don’t feel guilty about doing so! Think of it this way–breastfeeding her will keep her healthier and thus keep you from needing to take more time off work when/if she gets sick.

You’re doing great, your baby is thriving, you have a supportive husband and are able to nurse her on lunch breaks. That in itself is such a blessing, no matter what else ends up happening with pumping!

Jennydran says:

I can totally relate to your situation and feel very much in the same boat. Every day is a constant battle to pump enough milk for my daughter for the day and it takes me at least 4-5 sessions to get her day’s worth. Some days I only get to pump once at work, most days it’s twice. On weekends I nurse constantly and help build the supply up again for the week but it is sooo overwhelming and stressful to have to worry about the milk situation AND your work stress at the same time. I too, thought that once babies started solids, they didn’t need as much breastmilk. So I have to keep on producing the same amount until she is 6 months, but won’t she eventually need more milk as she grows? That’s what I worry about. It’s hard enough for me to get the 12 oz. each day! And my freezer stash is nothing to brag about, it’s quite sad actually. I should have taken it more seriously in the beginning than I did. Also, my daughter took a long time to gain weight and was actually losing weight in the beginning so we did have to supplement from about 3 weeks until right around week 9 we stopped and exclusively she has breastfed and no supplements since August. I was so happy to get to that point, but now I worry about making enough milk day to day for these bottles. I love breastfeeding too, but could REALLY do w/o the pumping! Good luck!

Yasmel says:

Congratulations on exclusively breastfeeding this long. It is rewarding.
I went back to work when my son was 8 weeks old. I took my lunch hour and divided it into 20 mins. breaks. I bought 3 pumping sets, like that I didn’t have to wash anything in between. They were already set to be used with the bottle attached and everything. I would put my alarm clock on so I could relax for those 20 mins. and not stress out.
Once done I would put the bottles away in the office fridge and I did not separate the milk until I got to the daycare.
I used to pump about 15 to 20 ounces in these 3 sessions. It was enough to feed my child and donate to two babies.

Make sure your baby is not being overfed. I had to always remind the daycare staff to check his diaper, carry him, give him his pacifier, pay attention to him before offering the bottle.
He would only take about 8 ounces at daycare but he nursed all night long lol. And I was happy for that, it kept my supply up.

What you can do on weekends is pump one side while you nurse the baby on the other side. That will get you the most milk.

Good luck, you are doing an awesome job. Your baby will only be little once and you will miss these times.

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.



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