The following is an interview with Jen from Life With Levi. Jen bought a PumpEase from us a couple of months ago and so loved it that she contacted us to pitch an idea to PIP (pump in public) on Black Friday, take pictures and blog about it! We were SOOO game! So we sent her a complimentary PumpEase (so that she had one for work and one for home) and sat back and watched her go! Jen then told us she also wanted to review PumpEase which we were also thrilled about. And as you can see, er... read, she wrote an honest, thorough and detailed review! Keep your eyes on Jen - she is an exclusively pumping mom with lots of experiences to share!
OK, now for the interview...
Wendy: When did you know that you wanted to breastfeed your baby?
Jen: I always planned on breastfeeding. I guess I didn't really consider that there were other options. I mean, I know formula exists, but I've always thought of formula as Plan B, not Plan A.
Wendy: How were the early days of breastfeeding for you and your son?
Jen: They were a struggle from the beginning. At the hospital, I had a lactation consultant visit to help me. She recommended using a nipple shield, since I apparently have a flat nipple (This was news to me, but it's true. Amazing what you learn about your body when breastfeeding!). Even with the nipple shield, breastfeeding was a struggle. I went back to see the lactation consultant a week later - she told me part of our issue was my letdown, and that I should try pumping a bit before breastfeeding so that the milk was already flowing when Levi latched on. Trying to manage pumping, getting a nipple shield in place, and a squirming, crying newborn was tough, and it only worked partially for us. I was lucky if I could get Levi to feed for more than 5 or 10 minutes at a time. After we both got frustrated, I would switch to pumping, then bottle feed him the pumped milk. I wanted to keep our breastfeeding relationship going, but I also wanted to make sure he got enough to eat when he was hungry, and that's what worked for us.
Wendy: How were the early days of pumping? How was your letdown? Finding the time to pump? Was it hard to pump enough milk?
Jen: Pumping for me was an emotional experience in the early days. I would cry while pumping, because I felt like a failure that I wasn't breastfeeding the "normal" way. It was both a relief and a chore - the pump didn't have latch issues or pull away from my breast, but it did take time. As a sleepless, exhausted new mom, it was a tough cycle - trying to find time to pump with everything else going on was really hard. Once I started pumping, though, I had absolutely no trouble maintaining my supply. In fact, I probably have an oversupply of milk now thanks to all the pumping I did in the early days and continue to do now.
Wendy: What brand/model of pump do you use? Do you rent or own?
Jen: I own two breast pumps currently - a Playtex Embrace that I bought while I was still pregnant, and a Medela Pump In Style that I bought to keep at work when I returned after maternity leave. I also have two sets of parts for each pump, so I can still have another to use when one set is drying.
Wendy: What led to you pumping exclusively?
Jen: Long story short - I developed a breast abscess that required surgical drainage when Levi was only a couple weeks old. It was too painful to try to breastfeed, but I had to keep expressing milk or the infection could get worse, so pumping was really my only option. I wound up needing two surgeries and a 4-day hospital stay to clear the infection. By the time everything was healed up, two months had gone by and I was already used to exclusive pumping.
Wendy: How long after giving birth did you return to work? How did you prepare for this transition? Did you build a stash? Talk to your boss?
Jen: I went back to work after 12 wonderful weeks of maternity leave. I had burned through all of my freezer stash when I was recovering from surgery, but thankfully was able to build up a new stash before I went back to work. I work for a global company in a relatively small office (about 30 people). I made sure to research my legal rights before returning to work, and my boss knew I was breastfeeding, but I didn't talk to her specifically about logistics until I started back. (If I could do it again, I would definitely have this conversation in advance.) Luckily, she had no issues with it, and just let me do what I needed to.
Wendy: Did you always have your "pumping cave" or did you have to fight for a private place to pump?
Jen: I'm definitely spoiled when it comes to my "pumping cave". I've had it from day one. I assumed that would be the setup when I returned from work, but wasn't sure until I spoke with HR. For those that are wondering, my pumping cave is a private office on a vacant side of the building that's for my exclusive pumping use. Technically, our company doesn't lease that side of the building, so it's not something that will always be available to people in my company. Most of the women in my office are past menopause, so I think HR just handled this on a case-by-case basis. I know I'm blessed, because I've worked for companies that don't have space set aside for moms who pump, and I've heard stories of women who have to fight with their bosses to get ample time or adequate private space to pump.
Wendy: What has been the hardest thing about pumping? The most rewarding?
Jen: The middle of the night pumping sessions are the hardest. All I want to do is sleep, but instead I'm up and pumping. I've started going longer between nighttime pumping sessions, but wake up engorged and uncomfortable. Plus, going longer between pumping sessions is a slippery slope - I find myself pumping every 4 or 5 hours instead of every 3 more often now, especially at work.
I almost hate to admit this, but the most rewarding thing for me right now is how much I'm not spending on formula. Yes, I'm feeding my son the perfectfood, I'm lowering my risk factor for breast cancer, etc... those are all things that I love, but I guess I kind of take them for granted at this point. But my bank account is something I keep a close eye on, and knowing I don't have to budget for formula is a huge relief.
Wendy: What surprised you the most about pumping? About breastfeeding?
Jen: It's super easy once you get the hang of it. I just realized I've been doing this for almost 4 months now, and show no signs of stopping. My supply has leveled out. I no longer leak through all my shirts. Pumping is relatively easy to work into my schedule, and I find I enjoy pumping as a bit of "quiet me time" now.
Wendy: How did you come up with the idea to try pumping while shopping on Black Friday? At any point during the day, did you ask yourself, "WHAT am I doing????"
Jen: Several times, actually! LOL. Neccessity is the mother of invention, right? I refused to miss out on Black Friday shopping, and I also refused to skip a pumping session, since engorgement sucks. So I decided to do both. I live in Minnesota, and pumping in the car would be cold and uncomfortable, so I decided I'd just bring my pump in with me. I use my PumpEase while pumping for everything else (folding clothes, catching up on Twitter, reading a magazine), so why not give it a go for shopping?
Wendy: How did you feel after you accomplished your goal of PIP (pumping in public)? Did you feel like a super hero? Were you surprised? Did you think, "What's next?"
Jen: It was awesome! I was surprised just how easy it was. I even had a lady give me a thumbs up when she saw my Medela pump bag (I'm guessing she recognized it, because she looked at my chest next and gave me a knowing smile). Now that I know just how well my PumpEase holds up, I'd love to try out pumping and doing other things. I'm somewhat holding off until I find a more portable pump to use, though. I'm not super modest, but I would prefer something that doesn't stick out six inches from my chest.
Thank you LOADS Jen for agreeing to this interview. I believe that moms need to TALK MORE about the fact that breastfeeding and pumping are NOT always easy in the beginning, but that it DOES get better! I am inspired by your journey and look forward to hearing more as you continue down the path of exclusively pumping for your son.
So, how was breastfeeding for YOU in the early days? What about pumping? Looking back, what one thing did you wish you had known before you had your baby? By sharing your experiences, as Jen just did, you will be helping countless other moms, present and future, beat the Booby Traps!
I have written about my love affair with The Best for Babes Foundation here, here, here and here. Bettina and Danielle work tirelessly to help moms like you "beat the booby traps" - the cultural and institutional barriers that prevent moms from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. Today, however, I am asking YOU to help THEM.
They are currently "sitting pretty" to receive a donation of $20,000 from the Chase Community Giving Program to support their cause, but NEED YOUR VOTE to maintain their position in the top 200 until the contest closes at midnight EDT on Monday, July 12, 2010! This will take no more than two minutes of your time and will benefit moms and babies everywhere today and in the future.
So if you are on Facebook, please add the Chase app so you can vote for them, share the link on your profile and rally your friends any way you can so they will vote too! (I know, I don't like adding apps either, but after voting I just went to Account, Application settings (top right of your FB page) and clicked on the "X" beside the Chase app to remove it - EASY PEASY!)
Why did I vote for Best for Babes? Well aside from the aforementioned love affair, they got my vote (and should get yours too) because they:
- inspire, prepare & empower moms - to give breastfeeding a makeover and give moms the solutions they need to make it work!
- believe ALL moms deserve to make an informed feeding decision, & to be cheered on, coached and celebrated without pressure, judgment or guilt, whether they breastfeed for 2 days, 2 months 2 years, or not at all.
- put pressure on the booby traps, not moms, so that they can achieve their personal breastfeeding goals!
- are raising awareness of the WHO Code and how violations hurt both breastfeeding and formula-feeding moms
- interview breastfeeding celebrities like Gossip Girl actress Kelly Rutherford to help bring breastfeeding back into the mainstream
- attract moms on the fence about breastfeeding with positive images (see above), information and resources
- boost & complement the efforts of the entire breastfeeding movement, including the United States Breastfeeding Committee, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, Baby-Friendly Hospitals, and many more
- are funded entirely by WHO Code compliant sponsors with all individual donations going directly towards education & outreach
- educate & influence the media
- are building the “mother of all causes” through grassroots and social media such as Facebook and Twitter to restore breastfeeding to its rightful place among highly visible disease foundations like Komen, American Heart Association and the Juvenile Diabetes foundation because breastfeeding lowers the risk of all these diseases and many more, plus it reduces the burden on the environment!
- are the only non-profit that is running a modern and innovative ad campaign that has the potential to reach millions of moms. With the CHASE community giving grant, they can leverage donated media space and run the campaign on billboards across the country for a fraction of the regular cost AND get more celebrity interviews that will put this issue on the map of the media and the mainstream in a positive and game-changing way.
Now GO VOTE! Thank you. :-)
Tags: breastfeeding, 'chase community', 'best for babes', 'who code', 'breastfeeding celebrities'