You have been pumping for one hour...
Your breasts feel sore...
Yet, you only get 0.5 oz.
You feel hurt.
You began questioning yourself...
How come I can only pump this much?
Do I really produce enough milk for my baby?
This is what Rika, one of our reader, felt, when she started pumping for the first time.
Today, I am glad to have her here to share her breastfeeding story with us, including how she managed to exclusively breastfeed her second baby (despite not being able to do that with her first) and how she was able to collect up to ~300 oz breast milk stash, even though she's only pumping 1 oz max at a time.
I want to share my not-so-easy breastfeeding story.
This is story of my second child, as I did not successfully breastfeed my first child....
It's all because I didn’t get enough information about breastfeeding.
My family is pro-formula feeding.
My mom said that I will not be able to breastfeed the baby because I am skinny, my breasts are small so I will not produce enough milk for baby.
She said, "Just give the baby formula milk & it will be easier once I am back to work, because the baby will not be looking for me or the mother's milk."
I listened to them when I had my first baby..., my bad, again, this is because my limited knowledge about breastfeeding.
Every time I browsed Google about what is the best formula milk for baby, I always read that breast milk is the best....
I felt so sad....and it was too late to breastfeed my baby.
I already gave her formula milk since her first week of life.
I never heard about re-lactation ( blame my poor breastfeeding knowledge back then).
However, there is no point of regretting.
I wanted things to be different, so I promised myself to learn more about breastfeeding.
If I were to have a second baby, I will give my BEST..., my breast milk, this is my ULTIMATE GOAL.
And yes, God is good, I was finally pregnant with my second baby.
During pregnancy, I browsed breastfeeding information and shared all about it to my husband.
We agree that we would breastfeed our second baby no matter what.
We kept telling the doctor that I would like to breastfeed my baby, lucky us that our doctor is supportive of breastfeeding.
We all know that nowadays breastfeeding doesn’t came naturally, we have to fight for it, right?
Even fight the negative talk from our close family, fight from the hospital that always has a bunch stock of formula milk and will always ready to give our child a bottle of formula milk, lol.
With all breastfeeding knowledge that I have now, I felt more confident to breastfeed my baby boy..., that breastfeeding would be easy....
But it turns out... No, it's not that easy.
FIRST WEEK AFTER BIRTH
After we came back home from the hospital, the baby started to nurse all the time.
It was tiring.
I didn't get my nap & even just a little night sleep....until I said to my husband that I felt tired.
My husband supported in every way he could, to ensure that the baby can continue to get the goodness of breast milk that we agreed as our goal..., lucky me to have him as my partner.
In the first week I started pumping, so that my husband or my mom can feed the baby while I take a nap or do other things.
My expectation was: 1 hour pumping will get me a full bottle ( like what I saw on Instagram ) hahaha, I was so wrong....
All I got was only 15 ml...
I started to question myself if I am really producing enough milk for my baby, or is something wrong with the breast pump?
Again, my husband keeps supporting me, he was always there withe me throughout my pumping session.
That’s all I need. I need the SUPPORT.
I told myself that it's okay, let's do it again tomorrow.
After a few times of pumping and still getting only 15 ml in one hour, I felt a little desperate and decided to only latch my baby for the rest of my first week.
One day, as I nursed my baby, I noticed my other breast started to leak. Usually I only used a breast pad to soak it up so that my cloth wouldn't get wet.
But suddenly I thought, ya.. why not try to collect the leak and pump the other side at the same time?
I gave it a try and soo happy because it works!
I was able to get more milk when pumping together with nursing the baby, yeaaay...!
Little by little, I began to master doing tandem nursing and pumping.
So, I started to multitask =D.
While the baby is nursing and I hold the pump bottle with my arm ( I used a single electric pump, btw) I started browsing about pumping and breastfeeding on Pinterest. Until I found Rina's website: Living with Low Milk Supply.
Woow... I wish I'd found her site sooner.
I felt like finding a treasure, just one-stop centre for pumping and breastfeeding, all my questions are answered in this site.
SECOND WEEK (AND BUILDING MORE STASH)
Since i want to build my freezer stash before returning back to work, I started to have extra pumping sessions while the baby was sleeping.
But you know what?
I got nothing, only milk drops !!!
Again this hurts.
I started think that must be there's something i didn’t know about pumping techniques.
But I didn't give up, I looked for even more information on how to pump correctly.
Finally, I realized that I didn't get let down reflex while pumping by myself.
You see, when I do tandem nursing ( pumping & nursing ), my baby stimulates the let-down for me and that's why I could get ample of milk.
On the other hand, when I pumped by myself, I didn't get let-down, and that's why I don't get any milk.
Little by little, I gained more knowledge about effective pumping & how to stimulate let down reflex.
Once I learnt how to stimulate let-down and pump effectively, I began to accumulate more milk while pumping by myself.
No, I'm not talking about getting a full bottle here.
I still got around 15-30 ml each pumping session (1 oz max!), but I don't feel desperate anymore.
I pump at least 6 times a day and combine those little treasures. At the end of the day, I could get 200 ml of breast milk (or 300 ml if I was lucky).
At the end of my maternity leave, I managed to accumulate 90 bottles of expressed milk, ~100 ml each (total 9000 ml or ~300 oz!)
I know, this number is not a lot. I’ve heard moms having freezer stash up to 1000 oz.
But, as a mom who had milk supply problem with first baby, this is such a huge achievement to me.
Now I am back to work and feel safe with my freezer stash.
I still regularly pump at work to maintain my milk supply.
Hopefully I can exclusively breastfeed my baby at least for 6 month.
For the purpose of saving more time. now I buy double pump electric so that I can pump even faster.
Here I am:
(1) The skinny mother with 32 A bra cup, I CAN breastfeed my baby.
Majority of people assume that only those with big cup bra size only can produce enough.
I prove them wrong.
(2) When you just started pumping, don't expect to get one full bottle of milk (like what you saw in social media).
I only get 15 -30 ml when pumping but I collected all of them.I pumped at least 6 times in a day, and in the end of my maternity leave, I was able to store up to ~9L (~300 oz).
(3) If you are surrounding by pro-formula feeding family and friends, don't give up easily. Just prepare yourselves with plenty breastfeeding knowledge, built a solid team with your husband, and continue to learn and share your breastfeeding knowledge.
Nowadays, my mom and friends have started to get interested in breastfeeding.
I hope this story can cheer up mom who struggle with milk supply, IF I CAN SO YOU ALL CAN =)
Thank you, Rika, for sharing your breastfeeding story.
I'm soo happy with your success and I believe others can learn a lot from your story.
LESSONS FROM RIKA'S STORY:
(1) Gathering ample of knowledge about breastfeeding is very important.
It can help you navigate through your breastfeeding journey, especially in the early days as this is the toughest.
(2) Getting support is important (especially from your spouse!)
Don't embark into your breastfeeding journey alone. It can be tough, especially in the beginning.
Engage your spouse early by sharing importance of breastfeeding, starting when you're still expecting.
Best, if both of you can attend a breastfeeding class together!
(3) Don't look at other people in social media.
Just because you don't get one full bottle in one session, it does not mean you're not pumping enough milk.
Remember each mother has her unique ability to provide breast milk to her baby. Trust your body, you have enough milk!
(4) Pumping with no let-down: expect drops
A lot of moms have mistaken they're not pumping enough milk when they are actually haven't achieved their let-down, and that's why their pumping become ineffective.
Pumping is a lot more than putting the breast shields onto your breasts and press the power button.
You need to know how you can get let-down effectively.
You need to know how to empty your breast well so you can maintain healthy milk production.
If you are interested to learn more about effective pumping, I highly recommend you to grab my FREE effective pumping checklist. Click on the red button below to download your checklist.
(5) Beware of breastfeeding myths.
Rika's family told her a very popular breastfeeding myth:
"Small breast cannot produce enough milk"
This is totally NOT true. She has proven that.
The amount of milk you are producing is not related to your boob size, but rather, to the amount of milk making tissue inside your breast.
Click here to read more breastfeeding myths and facts (important especially if you are about to start your breastfeeding journey).
(6) Building breast milk stash started from small amount.
It's possible to build breast milk stash even if you pump less than 1 oz all the time. The point here is don't underestimate those little amount.
Collect them all, they will accumulate into a decent stash.
I hope this story can give your fresh inspiration to continue your breastfeeding journey, no matter in which state of breastfeeding phase you are at.
Want to share your breastfeeding story like Rika? Leave a comment below and send me a private message and I'll follow up with you.
PS: Rika found my blog while browsing Pinterest feed. What about you?
Are you on Pinterest? Follow me to get more breastfeeding and pumping tips.