Fair warning, friends- today’s post is a looooong one 🤗
As I’m sure you’ve heard me say about a million times before- I SWEAR by a book called Cherish the First Six Weeks. Cherish is all about putting baby on an eating/feeding schedule right off the bat. I know this is not for everyone and some (most?) moms like to feed/nurse on demand for those first couple of months- I totally get this; but for me, the idea of having ChickieLou on a somewhat predictable routine was very appealing. With SO much of pregnancy and baby completely out of my control I think the idea of a schedule made my neurotic self feel better about the whole ordeal. Anyyyway, how does this relate to exclusively pumping you ask? I’ll get to it, I promise. Getting to the point is not exactly my strong suit… 😜
Chickie was born via emergency C-section after a looooong labor that ended with Mama pushing for over 3 hours and Chickie getting a very high fever while still inside the belly (more on this and our NICU experience later!). Right after she came into the world, this half (maybe fully?) drugged Mama put ChickChick to the breast. To my surprise, she latched on right away! We spent a whole week in the hospital (!) and for that time, I fed Chickie on demand whenever she showed what we called “feeding queues’ BEFORE she was full on crying. I TOTALLY recommend this btw- think of baby crying for food as his/her LAST DITCH EFFORT to get fed. Before they cry, they purse their lips, play with their tongue, and make what I can best describe as kissing sounds.. If you’re just getting started with breastfeeding it’ll be MUCH EASIER to get baby to latch properly and learn to feed if you put them to the breast BEFORE they are all out screaming and as soon as they show ANY feeding queues.
When we got home after a week of feeding on demand I was exhausted. My boobs were super sore even though I was coating them with lanolin every 2.5 seconds AND using a nipple shield for every. Single. Feed. This is when I started Cherish and fell in love with Helen’s routine recommendations: feed baby every 3 hours, no more no less. If baby cries before the three hours are up, distract, distract, distract away until you get as close to the 3 hour mark as possible. They’ll eventually get used to the schedule and your life will be a lot easier for it. I knew it would be hard to not immediately feed her when she was showing signs of hunger, given that I had been watching her like a HAWK for even the smallest feeding queue all week BUT I was committed to making it work.
Exactly a week and a half after Chick was born I started her on Cherish’s schedule. You guys it was AWFUL! I would put Chickie to the breast for about 15 minutes per side every three hours and STRESS THE EFF OUT anytime she cried in between feeds. What was getting to me was the unknown- when you put baby to the breast you have no idea how much they Milk they are ACTUALLY getting! This was my biggest source of anxiety that second week. I felt super insecure about making Sophia wait three hours for her next meal when I wasn’t positive she had eaten enough during her last feed. She was so tiny! Her screams were so loud! I couldn’t do it.. Until I came up with the idea to Exclusively Pump (“EP”). I thought maybe if I could SEE that she had finished 4 oz of milk I would feel more comfortable making her wait 3 hours for her next meal. Guess what? IT WORKED!
From that point on, Chickie and Mama BOTH were on tight schedules. Chick would eat every THREE hours and I would pump for 15-20 minutes every TWO hours. This helped me boost my production IMMENSELY. We even had to get an extra freezer to store all the breastmilk! By pumping every two hours I eventually fooled my body into thinking that Chick needed to eat every 2 hours and my milk supply increased to meet her “needs’ and I ended up with a surplus. That’s what our bodies do!
If you want to learn more about EPing and how to boost your milk production this site was my main resource. If it would be helpful, I can do anther post on what my typical pumping schedule looked like and how I weaned off the pump when Chick was around 11 months. Let me know with a comment below! I’m linking to my pumping essentials below in case you find them helpful. These flanges on a slope were a lifesaver- no more awkwardly leaning forward for 15 minutes at a time.
That’s all for now on EPing but if you have any questions I’m happy to answer them and write as many follow up posts as you’d like! Whether you’re using expressed breastmilk, formula or straight up breastfeeding your kid- you are doing great Mama; you know why? Because you’re trying your best and that’s all we can really do in this special/ complicated/ painful/ rewarding/ kickass baby-raising job of ours.. 💕
Thanks for stopping by!