Am I just crazy?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-12-2014
Am I just crazy?
Sun, 01-12-2014 - 9:17am

To introduce myself, I'm Maegan and I am currently 7 months pregnant and have decided that I would be most comfortable exclusively breast feeding. I know this isn't the norm and I'm an odd bird. My nipples are extremely sensitive and constant friction causes them to be over stimulated and painful even before pregnancy. I'm very worried this will be the case of breastfeeding and thinking about it makes me cringe. I am willing to try normal breast feeding however I am not to hopeful it will be something I stick to for the long haul. This brought me to exclisively pumping. 

This is my second child. My first went to NICU for a week after she was born and no one suggested pumping. She was tube fed formula and when she was released I was inexperienced and wanted to do everything I could to keep her healthy. I stick to the formula as the hospital showed me and never thought about breast feeding. I know some women say that bonding over a bottle or breast feeding isn't the same but I had no issues bonding while giving my child a bottle. Actually I feel the stress I would experience trying to breast feed the normal way would cause me to be less connected during feedings. 

I have done some research as to what I am getting myself into. My plan so far is to purchase a Medela Pump In Style breast pump. I know to start I will have to pump every 2 hours for atleast 15 minutes but no more than 20. The idea is to have established 8-12 pumping sessions throughout a 24 hour period. My goal is to get though the first 3 days when the baby's intake is not very much breast feeding normally and pumping the other breast to stiulate milk production. I stay at home and my oldest child goes to school full time so my ability to pump every two hours should be pretty open. I plan on starting at 6am, 8am, 10am, 12am, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, 8pm, 10pm, and then when then when the baby wakes up during the middle of the night. My other child was easy to put onto a sleeping schedule during the night of going to sleep at 10, waking up at 12, 3 and then 6 which works with the pumping schedule I have planned. 

My plan is mostly to have the milk stored in the fridge. I think I will want to establish a week's worth of milk to freeze but I am okay with dumping the milk. I know fridge milk is only good for a week and my plan is to be about 4 days ahead. Monday the baby has last Friday's milk and so on. This way when the demand increases I have a few days room to catch up and express more. 

Is my plan crazy? Is it something that only seems good on paper? I am thinking it is a 15-20 session which gives me an hour and forty-five minutes in between pumping. Babies rarely sleep for longer so it's not like I will be missing more sleep to pump. I am semi flexiable with my schedule and can change times to fit the baby's schedule. I also know I can be a bit late on pumping if I go out someplace or having a bad day. I have read that it's more about the amount of sessions than getting the times exactly right. Any advice would be appreciated. I would hate to waste over $500 on bottles, pump, parts, etc... only to have it be something that was insane to begin with. 

Avatar for cmkristy
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-05-2005
Tue, 01-14-2014 - 9:57am
Hi there, I wanted to welcome you to the board! I know the ladies here will have some great advice and feedback to share with you. I don't think your plan sounds crazy at all and the fact that you've done your research and have really thought about what will and will not work for you shows your dedication. I wish you the very best of luck!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-18-2013
Tue, 01-14-2014 - 2:02pm

Maegan, no you are NOT crazy! :) I would definitely encourage you to keep an open mind to traditional breastfeeding. Who knows, maybe you will be pleasantly surprised! Exclusive pumping is a lot of extra work! For me, it is worth it because I could not get my baby to latch, despite going to lactation consultants, occupational therapists, and even a specialist to check for tongue tie. We are entering our fourth month! 

But, if you do pursue exclusive pumping, I do have a few thoughts for you. You mentioned purchasing a pump. Do you have insurance? Under the new Affordable Care Act, insurance companies must provide mothers a free breastpump and breastfeeding support (lactation consultant visits). Another thing to think about is that a hospital grade pump is recommended if you exclusively pump. I think the opinion varies on whether or not one is necessary. But I do rent one for $60 a month. I am having difficulty with insurance covering my rental fee because they already provided that free breastpump (granted it was a huge hassle to order and they delivered it weeks late contributing even more to my breastfeeding saga). But regardless, you may want to consider asking them to "upgrade" to a hospital grade pump. Perhaps you will have to pay the difference. Probably to have it covered fully, it would have to be a medical necessity. And you do have to be a pest to the insurance companies. I found my insurance company to be very difficult to work with when ordering my initial pump. I talked to dozens of employees and my order "fell through" at various medical supply companies before it was successful. 

Another recommendation is to look into getting the Pumpin Pal flanges, especially if you have sensitive nipples. For me, they reduce nipple friction and they are also angled so that you do not get a sore upper back. And of course, stock up on Lanolin or other nipple cream. For me, different ointments/creams have been more effective at different points in my pumping experience. Sometimes, the Lanolin works best. Other times, I have better luck with all natural Motherlove nipple cream.

Also, invest in a good hands free pumping bra. I tried the Medela brand, but for me it lost its shape and did not have enough support. I LOVE my Simple Wishes Signature Hands Free Pumping Bra. It is so supportive and adjusts to any size easily. 

The more bottles and nipples you buy, the better. That way, you can wash less! I wash/sanitize once or twice daily. So if you can get extra breast pump parts (flanges, connectors, membranes), that would be a help, too. I sanitize my pump parts and the nipples and collars daily in Medela Quick Clean Steam Bags (microwavable). I only sanitize my bottles on occasion with my big Munchkin sterilizer. But you could boil them in water just as well. Also, the most helpful tip I have gotten is to store your pump parts in fridge between pumping sessions to prevent bacteria growth. That way you do not have to clean them between every session! 

You may want to stock up on oatmeal and Fenugreek in case you have trouble establishing your milk supply. They are thought to increase your milk supply. 

You are smart to plan ahead! For me, exclusive pumping was not the plan, so I had to learn as I went. I found this site to be SO helpful. Everyone I talked to said that I would eventually just "dry up." Not true! I have an abundance of milk and actually donate some of it! So go with what is best for you and baby. Getting baby breastmilk is what your goal is, no matter how you do it! Best of luck! 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-12-2014
Wed, 01-15-2014 - 8:37pm

Thanks! I'm glad I am not completely off my rocker. The hospital I will be at is very big on breast feeding. I have been to a breast feeding class but it really wasn't very helpful. I bought a Medela Advanced Personal Double Breast Pump which seemed to have very good ratings. I am planning on taking it with me to the hospital just in case. I know there is a lactation consultant on staff that will visit bedside to make sure everything is going well. I am unsure if I will request a meeting with one of them prior to delivery or if I will just wait. 

Sadly Tricare is considered a "benifit" so it does not have to follow the ACA requirements. They will cover it if the baby is born before 36 weeks and is in NICU. They do not cover any other sort of rental and sadly do not even have any that you can rent outside of your hospital stay. 

I added the Pumpin Pal flanges to my Amazon reminder list as well as the hands free pumping bra. I had been considering one since I will be attached to the pump so often. This way I can spend that 15 minutes reading or something a bit more fun than watching the milk drip. I will look into the oatmeal and the Fenugreek. I have heard of the oatmeal and I was thinking about making the cookies a few weeks before I'm due. Any excuse to eat cookies :) 

Thanks for the advice it was very helpful. It helps knowing that I am not to out there. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-16-2014
Thu, 01-16-2014 - 12:38am
You are definitely not crazy for wanting to do this and it sounds like you have really thought this through. That being said, I do have a few things to share from my experience pumping (I am going on month 7 now). First off: The best advice I can give anyone who is considering exclusive pumping is to give it your all at breastfeeding first, because this has been very draining and I often times feel like I am missing out on a special experience. I gave up after trying for 2 days because of the pain. With my next one I am going to give it all I have got to try and make breastfeeding work. Next: Everyone is different but it has been my experience that pumping 7x a day was more than enough to establish my supply. And even pumping that much was exhausting. At this point I am pumping only 4-5 times a day. Also it didn't seem to matter when I pumped, as long as I got 7 pumps in during a 24 hr period. Go easy on yourself and try not to overdo it! And when your baby sleeps through the night, don't be afraid to do the same. Regarding pumps: I started out using the medela pump in style (which I got through my insurance), but 2 months in decided that I needed something more portable. So I went out and bought the medela freestyle with my own money. This was the best $300 I have ever spent. If you have an option, go with the freestyle! It is so nice not being tied to an outlet while pumping. It makes caring for my daughter soo much easier. As I can make her a bottle, change her diaper or whatever I need to do all while pumping. Hope this was helpful. Good luck!