Remember when I said I was going to give myself a lot more grace this time around with Ryder? Well, that also reflects in the arena of feeding. I’m unashamed to say that I am an exclusive pumper, and I don’t see that changing any time in the future. It’s helped maintain stability with my mental health, and that alone is reason enough to exclusively pump for me. All moms have the right to feed their babies the way that best suits them and their family, and shamer’s are not welcome here, we don’t tolerate that shit. If a mom is feeding her baby, then she is doing her job.
I put an incredible amount of pressure on myself to exclusively breast-feed Bodhi. I think a lot of us do when we become moms for the first time. But the pressure combined with how hard it can be to breast-feed in general—it’s overwhelming. While I don’t regret breastfeeding Bodhi, I also see a lot of patterns that contributed to my severe postpartum depression from the pressures I put on myself, like breastfeeding. We coslept with Bodhi so that I could sleep since he frequently cluster fed, I didn’t give myself breaks by going long without him feeding from me instead of a bottle, and I felt like I didn’t have my body back until after our breast-feeding journey was over—1 year to be exact.
Simply put, I was going to feel out how my journey would be with Ryder and adjust accordingly.
At first, Ryder fed from my boobs. When he was about a week old I could tell that my overproduction of milk was a little too intense for him. He was also having trouble latching and staying latched, and my nipples were way too big for him. Please keep in mind that I have size 44E breasts, and though my nipples were once smaller, they are now saucers you could eat a meal on. My boobs have been through it, no doubt about that. But so worth it since they have literally fed and grown my babies to what they are now. I think that is so f*cking cool.
Since I noticed Ryder eating with ease from a pumped bottle of milk, I decided to only try to breast feed him once or twice a day. It was so hard, for both of us. I even used a Medela nipple shield and Haaka nipple shield, but he was not about it. However, both shields are great, especially the Haaka one for big nipples, but it was too taxing on both me and Ryder to use.
-From birth to 1.5 months old I was pumping every 3 hours and producing roughly 5 ounces from each breast per session. One feeding session was directly from my breast in a 24 hour period.
-By 1.5 months old I was exclusively pumping and doing so about 4-5 times a day, still producing roughly 5 ounces each session. Here and there I would attempt breastfeeding but it was few and far between.
-At 2 months old I had completely stopped attempts to breast feed and started exclusively pumping 5 times a day.
Since then, I slowly started to remove pump sessions because I am a massive overproducer. I always read never go longer than 3-4 hours if you’re an exclusive pumper but I think that’s bull shit because very woman’s body is so different.
Feel your body out, trust your gut, and whip out that calculator. I started crunching numbers to see how many ounces a day Ryder was eating. Then, I calculated how many ounces I produced from a pumping session. Given the number of ounces Ryder ate a day, I determined I only needed to pump 3 times a day and that would be enough. I have finally gotten to a place where I don’t think I am overproducing anymore, and I still have maybe 10 ounces to spare in a 24 hour period from 3 sessions a day.
I pump in the morning at 10am, again at 4pm, and then one more time at midnight. I pump anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how distracted I get. Typically, at the 14 minute mark I am done expressing and no more milk is coming out. This schedule came from me feeling out my body and testing out different gaps in between pump sessions. Here are some tips I shared on Instagram that boosted my milk supply.
I’m so grateful I still have the luxury of feeding Ryder breastmilk. He drinks a big amount of milk in one feeding and isn’t frustrated when he can’t latch and he’s happy that he doesn’t have to work so hard. I feel confident in my choices surrounding his feeding, and that comes from trusting my intuition. All you can really do is take everyone’s advice with a grain of salt, and then go with what your body is telling you.
Best of luck mamas!