Exclusively Pumping Mama

In time for the World Breastfeeding Week, I wanted to share my experience as an exclusively pumping mom.

My breastfeeding journey started immediately when Santi came out of my belly. St. Lukes Global advocates the benefits of breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact at the initial stages of an infant’s life. Unlike other mothers who had trouble with their supply and with their baby’s latching, Santi and I had a really smooth start. He was an excellent sucker. Haha!

When I got back home, I feasted on malunggay (moringana) – literally. There was malunggay in everything – Eggy sprinkled malunggay leaves on omelet, I had tinola all the time and I always have this amazing malunggay concoction ready at the refrigerator for my daily consumption. 

Santi was on unlimited latching the first six weeks. It was probably the most tiring and draining thing I have ever experienced in my whole life. I was always hungry and thirsty and since my supply was still regulating at that time, I had leaks all the time. There was even a time when I hated that I smelled like pastillas.

But I always reminded myself, all for the love of Santi.

At six weeks, one’s milk supply becomes regulated (got this from tens and tens of breastfeeding resources I read). That’s when one can start pumping.

It has been almost a month since I have started on pumping milk for the little one. Initially, the main objective was to introduce Santi to the bottle because I was going back to work already. However, he now prefers the bottle and is already experiencing nipple confusion. *my baby doesn’t want to latch anymore, C-R-Y*

apas baby

Giving him formula was really not an issue with me nor Edzel (I know a lot of breastfeeding moms would cringe). We are never purists, anyway. However, I still wanted to try my best to provide him with the best option there is and nothing could really beat breastmilk.

And so, I took on the route of being an exclusively pumping mama. 

Exclusive Pumping 

Many people would still be befuddled by the idea of exclusive pumping. For most, it is either breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, with the latter sending off the general idea of formula feeding. However, there is something in between, which a minority of moms get into and that is bottle-feeding their child with their expressed breastmilk (by pumping).

Being an exclusively pumping mama takes a lot of effort, truth be told.

You go through all the hassles of bottle-feeding such as washing bottles, sterilizing them and drying them up. On top of that, you go through the extra mile of pumping every two or three hours, washing pump parts, sterilizing them and storing your breastmilk. This also means waking up in the middle of the night to express milk so you don’t experience engorgement, mastitis or plugged ducts. The end goal, though, is still very rewarding because you are still able to give your child all the wonderful benefits of breastmilk.

The Lactation Massage, The Pump and its Parts

Medela Pump in Style

My initial experience with the electric pump was depressing. I was barely producing an ounce of milk. Santi gobbles them up like crazy and I always wondered how on earth could I build up a stash for him to use later on. That led me to meeting one of the peer counselors from BFP telling me that the key to successful pumping is to stick to a really rigid schedule. She also referred me to Rhea, who went to my house to give me a lactation massage and teach me how to manually express my milk in emergency situations and during the times that I needed reinforcement to collect my milk. Rhea told me that I had a great supply of milk (whew, size doesn’t matter after all, hahahaha) which was really a relief. She also taught me different latching positions for Santi as well as cupfeeding my breastmilk through the yayas.

Some time after, I was able to establish my pumping schedule. I use Medela Pump in Style Advanced and they have been very efficient. However, my unit was using 110V so I had to buy an adapter. Husband got me one from Ace Hardware which I leave at home because it was on the heavy side and I got a lightweight one from OLX (thank God for online shopping), which I bring to work. I also got a new set of parts from The Parenting Emporium – connectors, flanges (24mm), valves and membrane. In Medela forums, changing the membranes actually improve the suction power of the pump. Because I had to return to work and brave the traffic, Eggy also got me a car adapter from CDR-King (yes, it worked) although I have not had the chance to use it often just yet.

Pump N’ Store

Being an exclusively pumping mama means that you have to store your breastmilk for your little one’s consumption later on. In my case, what I pump for today would usually be used by Santi the next day. 

Storing one’s breastmilk is one important aspect for the exclusively pumping mom. It also requires a lot of paraphernalia. Storage bags can get quite expensive so I only use them when I need to freeze extra breastmilk.

Breasktmilk Storage for Exclusively Pumping Mama

For the supply that Santi will consume within the week, I store them in storage bottles. I have my Medela bottles but I also got cheaper ones, Mom and Baby brand>> from SM Store via Lazada. They cost P199 for 4 5oz-bottles. In perspective, Dr. Brown’s storage bottles is at P699 for 4 4-oz bottles, Evenflo at P750 for 4 5-oz bottles while Medela costs P1,450 for 12 2.7-oz bottles. I also use Honeysuckle breastmilk bags for freezing breastmilk which costs P380 for a pack of 25 bags. I got it from their Instagram store @honeysucklephils. My friend also gave me Avent and Lansinoh breastmilk bags although I haven’t used them yet.

For the milk that Santi can consume in the next three to five days, I keep them in the refrigerator. If I have some extra milk, I put them in storage bags so that I can keep them in the freezer. This is the breastmilk storage guideline I follow:

BM storage guidelines for exclusively pumping mama

The Search for the Right Bottle-feeding Paraphernalia

I started to introduce the bottle to Santi. The newborn set I got from Avent had medium flow nipples so I had to buy newborn ones. However, he also had problems with the Avent newborn teats. I think it was too gummy or too stiff for his liking. So the mommy researched some more and again, saw in BFP that Pigeon’s peristaltic nipples are adapted more easily by babies who grew from the breast. I headed to the nearest department store and got him a pair. Quite surprisingly, Santi loved the peristaltic nipple from Pigeon and we have been using them ever since. I used them on my wide-neck Avent bottles (they fit but not exactly to a T but you can carefully place them so they would not leak). I also purchased the slim ones to use on Mom and Baby storage bottles that I got. Now, all that yaya needs to do is get the storage bottle from the refrigerator, pop it in the bottle warmer and use it with the Pigeon slim teats. No more transferring to another bottle!

Increasing the Milk Supply

Lactation Aids for Exclusively Pumping Mama

I also joined another Facebook group of mommies who are exclusively pumping for their little ones. From there, I learned that I have to pump at least 7 times a day and that my 27-oz output is not bad at all. They also directed me to Baby Mama where I got my lactation aids. I ordered immediately, tried them and got instant results. I started with the following lactation aids when my supply increased:

  1. Shifted from Natalac 3x a day to Lifeoil 2x a day (Lifeoil is 500mg while Natalac is 250mg)
  2. Morning – Mother Nurture Coffee 7-in-1 (with Malunggay)
  3. During the day – Malunggay Tea with Lemongrass / Lactation goodies from Sweet Delights by Charlotte / Water
  4. Nighttime – Yogi Woman’s Nursing Support

Few Last Words

I am lucky enough to have sufficient milk supply to give to Santi. I would like to believe that breastfeeding one’s child is every mom’s dream but there are certain situations when they could not and it should not be taken against them. I have read and experienced other moms who bludgeon those who are feeding their child formula or if they bottle-feed their child with breastmilk. Breast is always best but we need to be understanding of the scenarios that each mom undergoes. Telling someone to quit their job so that they can breastfeed their children is very unreasonable and honestly, I find it quite appalling. Most, if not all moms, would want the best for their children and I am sure that they have researched their options well and if not, that is why they ask. Asking is something that is second nature to first-time moms and we need not be judgmental or harsh when answering these seemingly commonsensical kind of questions. Sometimes, we first-time mothers just DON’T KNOW.

In line with that, let me take this opportunity to thank my doctors, my sisters-in-law, my parents and all the wonderful ladies in Exclusive Pumping Pinays for being such a wonderful support group.

Motherhood has been a painstakingly wonderful journey for me. It has been 85 days since I have braved through this experience and nothing has been as depressing (post-partum blues) and heavenly as this journey. It is, indeed, a whole new extreme rollercoaster ride.

To all first-time moms, cheers to us!