Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Totally Boss Weaner

on July 25, 2013

Let’s just be clear about one thing, unlike many of the moms whose babies are in the NICU, I am weaning from the breast pump intentionally. Many women who try to pump for an extended period of time find that the pump just doesn’t do the job at sustaining a milk supply. The milk eventually stops on its own. My supply was okay. Agnes was eating a little more than I was able to supply but I did have a two week head start, so she has eaten only maternal breast milk while in the NICU. My decision to wean from the breast pump is a totally personal decision based on my deep-seated hatred for my breast pump and the activity of using it.

Don’t think this decision has been easy for me: it hasn’t. I still feel a pang of sadness whenever I think about not nursing Agnes, which I think about at least once an hour throughout the day. But the truth is, I was pumping to supply breast milk which is the best food for newborns, but also to keep myself ready to nurse Agnes when she was ready to nurse. However, seeing how she struggles to eat by mouth made me think that perhaps it will be months before she is strong enough to nurse. I can not pump for months. I loathe pumping. In addition, I do not want to confuse Agnes by attempting to nurse in alternation with attempting to bottle feed. She is having enough trouble just succeeding at one of those! As bottle feeding is the more sustainable option, that is what I have decided to do for her. And one further thought: Agnes’ growth is of great interest to her doctors so it seems to me that it would be extremely important to know exactly how much she is eating. That would be impossible to measure if Agnes were nursing.

Having said all this, I would just like to brag that I am an extremely successful weaner. I have been gradually reducing my time with the pump for about a week, and my milk is almost totally done. This is exciting for me because I won’t have to pump anymore and I can focus my time on my children where it belongs. But this is also sad for me because it really means I will never nurse Agnes.

A great time to relax and enjoy a machine sucking on your boobs. Not. And it is actually not possible to do one-handed.

Here are my tricks for successfully weaning from a breast pump.

First, rent the pump from the hospital that is so ineffective that it is borderline broken. That’s the one I rented and I have a feeling it played a large role in developing my hatred for pumping. I tried telling the lactation consultant that one side of the pump doesn’t suck as well as the other, and her solution was to give me new tubing to connect the pump to the collection containers. I actually think it worked even worse after I put on the new tubing, but that may be an error in my observation. Also, an ineffective pump really helps the weaning go quicker! [Note: it was my individual unit that probably needed repair. The unit I used at the hospital worked just fine! I am not maligning this brand of breast pump! k thx]

Second, gradually add more time in between pumping sessions. Go for three hours in between, then four and a half, then six. It might be uncomfortable to start, but your body will adjust.

Third, try to pump only to ease the pressure a bit. This is hard to do; for my own experience, once I sat down to pump I wanted to make it worth my while. But it is important to leave milk behind to signal your body to stop making more milk.

Fourth, remind yourself how wonderful it will be to not have to pump throughout the day! Think of how much time you will have to spend with your family, accomplish things around the house, and run errands that don’t have to fit in a two-hour window.

My goal is to be totally weaned by Monday. Agnes is coming home on Monday! She will come home with an n/g tube because she is still not ready to totally feed from a bottle, but she will not have any other medical/equipment needs besides the feeding tube! I’m pretty excited about that. I’m looking forward to hanging out with my two kids at home together, playing with toys and reading stories. And all that other baby stuff. And feeling like a real family for the first time since Agnes was born.

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2 responses to “Totally Boss Weaner

  1. JeneaSwainston says:

    I tried, unsuccessfully, to pump for 2 weeks. I applaud you for giving it an honest go and giving Agnes the best possible start with breast milk! You are doing the right thing! She and Stephen need your time and attention more than Agnes needs breast milk! Not that you need my approval or anything, just thought it might help to know that one can raise a baby without breast feeding…I did it!

  2. woodra01 says:

    I relate so well to this post. 🙂 It made me smile. Congrats on Agnes coming home soon!

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