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Lives in: Oberlin Park, Kansas
Breastfeeding experience: Not too difficult, not too emotional
Main challenge: Newborn in the NICU
Breastfed for: 13 months
I had decided to breastfeed before my son, Logan, was born. But I told myself that if for some reason it didn't work out, I wouldn't get too stressed about it. I'm adopted so I wasn't breastfed. I mainly decided to breastfeed because of the cost of formula. It's way too expensive!
My son was in the NICU for over a week because he had a blood infection at birth (which was very scary!), so I started pumping right away on a two-hour cycle. It wasn't till day four or five that I actually nursed him.
We had a little trouble at first because Logan had some nipple confusion—he didn't know how to treat the breast differently from a pacifier, which he'd been given in the NICU. I had to use a nipple shield to help him latch on, which was kind of annoying, but it wasn't a lot of trouble. And because I'd been pumping and producing milk already, I didn't have any worries about making enough milk.
Still, I didn't really find breastfeeding a bonding experience – it was just something that I did. I nursed Logan until he was about 6 months old, when one day he pretty much just stopped wanting the breast. But he'd still take the bottle, so I just pumped and fed him breast milk in bottles.
I continued to pump until he was 13 months old. I had a good breast pump, a hospital-grade one. I never had any problems with pumping – it was easy and second nature to me. Sometimes I used the time to relax, almost sleeping while I was pumping. I watched a lot of TV while pumping – it was definitely a time to chill out.
It did become a bit of a pain in the butt toward the end, especially when I started working. But my work was really good about it. No one had a problem with it. We just started referring to it as "doing my thing." Everyone knew what it meant. When the corporate apartment we lease out was empty, I used that space. When it wasn't, I used a chair in the bathroom.
I never had any issues with letdown – to this day, I couldn't tell you what the milk letting down feels like. I didn't have any physical sensation of it, like other moms do. It was just really easy.
But by 13 months, I was so ready to be done with it. I increased the hours between my pumping sessions, starting with eliminating the middle-of-the-night pump. I just extended the times in between throughout the day. And then I was done. No pain, no infections.
My biggest lesson learned
If you're planning to go back to work, you should pump from the beginning. Learning to do it early helps you get used to it and gives you time to build up a supply of frozen breast milk. I don't think the majority of moms-to-be really think about pumping – it's usually about whether to breastfeed or go with formula. But many women work and need to pump, so it's worth thinking about.
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