Considering EPing

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2013
Considering EPing
Mon, 03-25-2013 - 5:25pm

I have a 7 week old preemie little girl.  She was born at 33 weeks and I got really lucky in a lot of ways: she only stayed in the hospital 2 weeks and I have never had a problem with milk supply.  However, her little preemie muscles just don't have the strength or endurance to nurse well.  The nurses told me that by my due date she should be exclusively nursing and not needing to bottle feed at all.  She has only gotten my breast milk, sometimes fortified with a little formula, but never just formula.  Her due date just passed, and I've seen no improvement on nursing.  She rarely nurses, maybe only twice in 24 hours, and when she does it takes at least an hour just to empty one breast.  By that time we're both exhausted, and I still have to pump, and then she's hungry again.  Neither of us is getting much rest and feeding is just a frustrating time for both of us.  Because of all this I'm considering exclusively pumping.  I know I'm lucky that I don't have a supply problem, yet, so I think EPing would be a good option for us.  She feeds great from a bottle, and I have even figured out how to pump and bottle feed her at the same time thanks to the hands free bra.  I guess my question is, how did you know this was the right decision?  Most of me thinks this is the right feeding path for my girl and me, but I also have that nagging little voice that says I should try harder to nurse and keep at it.  Maybe I'm just being selfish, wanting to take an easier route?  I think a lot of that guilty thinking comes from my family - huge breastfeeding advocates who have subtlely, and not so subtlely, inferred that my giving her a bottle wasn't a good thing, even though she's needed it or she'd go hungry.  I can't imagine what I'd hear if I went just to a bottle.  How do you deal with the guilt and/or judgement from other people, especially other women in your family?

Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom!

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-21-2011
Wed, 03-27-2013 - 2:58pm

I just wanted to say hang in there.  I think at the beginning, it is just hard.  It just is.  It will get easier as you go on, whatever you choose.  You are doing this out of love for your daughter.  What you do to provide for her out of love is a wonderful thing.  There isn't a perfect answer.  There is only going to be what works for you in your family and that is what matters.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2013
Mon, 04-01-2013 - 12:50pm

If you feel like EPing is the right thing to do, then it's the right thing to do!  Don't let family, strangers, lactivists, etc. tell you otherwise.  It was hard for me to let go of the possibility of a nursing relationship, because I wanted that bonding and time together, but I found myself feeling frustrated, inadequate and sad every time we sat down to nurse.  My baby would take so long to nurse, and never feel satisfied.  After she lost weight, and it was clear she wasn't getting what she needed from breastfeeding alone, we decided to exclusively pump.  That was the right decision for us.  We still nurse once every couple of days, because I enjoy that time together (now), but most of her food comes from the bottle.

"Maybe I'm just being selfish, wanting to take an easier route?" You should know that EPing is not necessarily the easier route.  There is much more involved as far as time, bottle washing/maintenance (not just feeding bottles, but pumping equipment as well), milk temperature, storage, supply issues - because you are relying on the pump to determine your supply instead of the needs of your baby.  That said, I don't believe EPing is easier than nursing *in general* - but I think for some people, myself included, it is the easier way to get breastmilk to our babies.

If you are interested in maintaining a nursing relationship, I would encourage you to keep putting her on the breast as often as you can/have time or patience for.  You may find that she eventually begins to figure it out.  My daughter, at 21 weeks, is only just now able to transfer a full feeding at the breast - and only occasionally, at that.  But I'm so grateful that she will still take the breast in times where it's the only way I can soothe her, or when I just want some quality time with her.  

Good luck with whatever decision you make - I wish you the best, and hope you find a way to do what is best for you and for your daughter without the judgement of those around you!

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-02-2013
Tue, 04-02-2013 - 1:55pm

Exclusively pumping is definitely NOT the "easiest" option, no matter what anyone thinks.  When you are Eping, you are doing twice the work due to the time spent washing pump parts, bottles and storing the milk, and all this on top of actually feeding the baby.  Keep reminding yourself and everryone around you that your baby is healthy, happy and ridiculously loved - regardless of how your milk makes it from the breast to the belly.  That is what matters.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-05-2013
Mon, 04-08-2013 - 7:17am

Amen to what Samanthacsmith says! I HATE that people consider pumping the easy way out. I EBFed my ODS for 14 months. It was SO much easier because boobs are portable, no power supply needed, nursing is faster, easier, and more ergonomic than pumping and takes WAY less cleanup. I would not recommend this lifestyle except if you really have exhausted the nursing option. Not only that, but I wish I could tell you the guilt goes away. It doesn't. Not for me, anyway, and I was absolutely, totally sure that I was making the only available choice when I stopped attempting to BF.

I now have twins, so continuing to nurse was not an option if I was going the pumping route- not enough hands. No pumping during feedings, either, or even while babies are awake. However, with a singleton, I would have kept trying to nurse. Once a day, even. Your daughter willl get much stronger so fast, you will be amazed, and this site has many stories of people being able to convert to EBFweeks, a month, even several months down the road. I have totally given up my life to pump, so I would definitely recommend maintaining your options if you are able.

However, it is YOUR decision. The only other input that matters is your husband, who'd better be supportive! EPing will be harder for him, too, although it will be cool that he can be more of a participant in feedings. Your family's hearts are in the right places, but they have no way to know how heartbreaking it is to even have to consider this, and need to be a little more sympathetic! You will know when you get to the point that nursing is no longer an option. Remind everyone that at least it's not formula. Good luck!