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Mama Pump-A-Lot, Part 2

Previously in this series ... Mama Pump-A-Lot, Part 1 and Nursing Working Mama's Conundrum.

Thanks for the email, Christina. We'd love to hear other urbanMamas thoughts:

I've had this complicated love/hate relationship with my breast pump for four months now. We go back further than that, the pump and I, but it was four months ago that I went back to work, my boy enrolled in daycare and I started to lug my PumpnStyle through the streets of downtown Portland, to work and back home again. Started hauling it upstairs to this dusty, cold supply room where I slap on those chilly horns and get to work. Despite the unpleasantness, it's a way to provide for my son that as a working mama makes me feel just a bit better about everything. Every so often I become convinced that the pump is giving up the ghost, that it's just not doing its job the way it should. Then I'll have a good pumping day and come home with full bottles of milk that I show to my husband who says "good day behind the horns, eh?" But I still fantasize about the day I will leave the pump at home, that I won't have to do my time among the forgotten detrius of my company's files.

But I have questions that keep me pumping: If I stop, will I still have the breastmilk to feed my son at lunch, in the evening, in the morning, on the weekends? And what will I do with the pump when I'm done? I bought it used and heard from an LC that they're only designed to last for about a year. My e-mail to Medela about whether they take them back for refurbishment went unanswered. I hate to think about just throwing the thing away - not after our long and sordid relationship. How about it, Mamas? Anyone with advice on breaking up with your breast pump? Any recycling ideas? Anyone else just want to rant about their pumping escapades?

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Well, I have to say I have no real advice for you, except to say that I also hate just throwing away my Pump In Style. I pass it everyday walking into our storeroom and wonder if I should try and sell it. That being said, I wonder if the local Le Leche Legue would take it and pass it along to someone who is in need and cannot afford to buy one.

I've been using a Purely Yours for 10 months (I pump exclusively), and I got it used on Ebay. By all means, pass it on! As long as you don't hide the fact that it's used it's no big deal. I'm sure the LLL could help you find a home for it.
You should know that if you quit pumping you probably will reduce your milk supply, unless you nurse more at night to make up for it, which would be tiring. Supply and demand, you know?
Could you make pumping less onerous for yourself? A hands-free bustier and a book, a daily splurge on a latte, something that would make the time pass quicker?

I got my Pump In Style from a friend who had gotten it from a friend. I then passed it on to another friend, who passed it to yet a fifth mama.

The pump's original owner was a wohm mother. The next three of us were sahms who needed to build up our supply during those rough early days and/or pump a stash for dates and going out of town. The last mother was a lawyer who used it to pump at the office for a year.

As far as I know, the pump did just fine for everyone. If the PIS was designed to last only a year, I would have expected that mama #5, the lawyer, who gave it a pretty heavy workout, wouldn't have had much success.

I see ads for pumps on Craigslist all the time. Used ones seem to go for around $100. But if the money's not important, it shouldn't be too hard to find some mother out there to pass the pump along to. I don't know where that pump I used is, now. But I like to think it's out there somewhere, appreciated by someone else the way we all appreciated it...

I really like the idea of passing mine along to someone who can't afford one--they certainly aren't cheap! If anyone hears info regarding this, please post.

I pumped at work with my first son for 13 months. Then I continued nursing him in the mornings and evenings and at lunch as well afterwards. I didn't stop nursing him altogether until he was about 2 years of age. I'm just starting to use the pump again (I'd never heard that they wear out after a year?) to store up some reserves before going back to work at the new year and at the moment, I have a hate/hate relationship with the pump hehe. It's not the pump's fault, it's just that I never really have the time to pump. Oh and the medela storage bags at New Seasons were crazy expensive! Might have to stick with the Lansinoh ones from Safeway (but I'm sure that's a whole other post).

Hang in there, Christina. I do the same dance w/ my own hand-me-down (I'm at least user #3 & it's working fine) PIS. We refer to it as the "mechanical twin." My daughter is about to turn 13 months old and shows no signs of weaning, which is fine, except the pumping routine, it does grow wearisome, as you say.

So sorry about the dusty supply room thing! At least you have privacy. A while ago I posted about how ridiculous it is to me that Oregon has yet to pass a law that requires employers to give working moms adequate time AND SPACE to pump. I'm always hearing about/from moms who have to go to some really extreme lengths in order to pump on the job. It's just plain wrong in this "#1 for breastfeeding" state. SIgh.

I cut back on my pumping a while ago - went from 4X/day to 2X/day because my work schedule simply wasn't forgiving of all that milking - with no noticeable difference in my milk supply. The real kicker was when the nighttime feedings ended. I'm sure my supply has decreased since that monumental event (the up side was that we all started getting some meaningful sleep), but I still nurse 2X in the morning before work and 2X after work, w/ a baby who seems satisfied afterwards. And I nurse on demand on my days off w/ bambina, again, w/ her seeming pretty satisfied. I think so long as she wants it, you'll be able to produce it, but every body (literally) is different.

By the way, love calling them the "horns." And what (must've been a guy) genius designed those suckers, anyway? He clearly had Barbie gravity-defying boobs in mind. Mine just don't point up like that. Sheesh.

On the durability issue... my first Pump-in-Style gave out after only a few months of regular use, just before my first baby was weaned. This would have been incredibly aggravating, except that Medela customer service was very helpful and responsive and replaced the whole thing. So I had a virtually brand new pump on hand when my second baby arrived. There were just a few days when I was forced to fall back on pumping by hand with the Avent Isis, while the new unit was shipped.

That said, I ended up using the replacement unit much less with my daughter, because I fell so in love with the Isis. Pumping each breast separately can take a little bit longer, but it was also really pleasant to sit quietly and unobtrusively at the computer and not have to deal with all of the Medela tubing. I also found the Isis incredibly helpful at meetings and seminars. I could throw on a shawl and pump unnoticed, instead of retreating to some unpleasant location.

Not that I have anything against the Pump-in-Style. I too would love to pass mine on to a mama in need. (The current one is still in great condition!)

This thread came at a good time! I just emerged from the First-Aid room (where I spend quality time with my Pump-In-Style three times a day for the three days a week I'm at work.) I'm needing some support from you guys! My five month-old daughter has been sick with a sinus infection and double ear infection for a week now (finally on antibiotics, much to my chagrin) and has since refused to nurse. A week before that, I was sick for four days, too and noticed my production went down. I think now she is frustrated because it's hard for her to breathe, hurts to suck and she has to work harder at the breast than at the bottle (which she uses while at daycare.) Now my production has gone significantly even though I dutifully continue pump, even while she's sleeping on my off days. So, I've been formula feeding her with a bottle and nursing in the evenings (when she's sleepy and seems to have more patience for it.) Ideally I'd like to exclusively nurse her for the four days I'm not working to get my production back up, but she turns away in frustration and since my production seems low, I'm afraid she'll starve! Will she figure it out after awhile that there is no bottle and she needs to nurse? How long will I be able to sustain production if I pump only? It's really important for me to have her nurse/have breastmilk as long as possible, so if expressing it and bottle feeding her is the only way she'll take it, I'm willing to do that. Oh, my PIS is a hand-me-down, too. I'll look into getting a tune-up for that. I think I'll re-read the posts about increasing production. In the meantime, any thoughts, suggestions or words of encouragement are greatly appreciated!! Thanks so much, mamas.

Hayley, keep up the wonderful work that you're doing! Sounds like one of the particularly exhausting stretches... my milk supply tended to fluctuate while I was nursing. Not sure how much was in response to cues from the babies, and how much was in response to whatever I myself was doing at any given time. But persistence always resulted in the milk level going back up to whatever was needed. And I'm confident that if it really comes down to one or the other, your daughter will choose breast over starvation. :-) That said, feeding her expressed milk by bottle is a perfectly valid option if that's easier for her.

Other thoughts: (1) Have you had any luck clearing your daughter's breathing passages with saline drops and suction? (2) Amid all the other issues, your daughter may also be signaling that she's ready to venture toward solids. Rice cereal mixed with lots of breastmilk is a pretty friendly way to begin the transition.

Tia- Thank you for the kind words. I should have mentioned we've started the little one on diluted rice cereal (1 TBS in the evening), which she really likes! And, the suction bulb has helped. I haven't tried the saline, so maybe I'll give that a go. Thanks again!

Thanks for the encouragement on transistioning time. My daughter will be 6 mo. shortly and I am going to have to introduce formula and solids because, even though I am pumping at work, I am not going to be able to keep it up once school starts up again too. I really, really, really want to keep nursing her in the mornings and at nap/bed time. I hope theboss is right and that I can keep making milk as long as she keeps nursing at those times.

Hayley -- Hang in there and definitely read the recent thread on all the really wonderful suggestions about dealing with a drop in production.

And another thought on helping with your daughter's congestion: I've had some success with making a little steam room in the bathroom by running the shower for a few minutes (or going in while my husband takes a shower) and letting my little guy breath the steam. It's a temporary fix but it helps to do it before he nurses. Ditto for saline drops.

And thanks for all the news about long-lived pumps. I'll look forward to passing mine on to someone in need when we/if we ever say good-bye!

I work in the public health field and one of my clients has refused to use "the horns". Instead she and her sister (her sister has a baby 10 days older)breastfeed each others kids. At first, she was very shy/embarsesed about their situation. But after I said, how cool, she has been very open to it. I wish Rebecca and I would have thought about this option. On the pumping issue, I wish I would have not been so freaked out about how much milk i had saved and how much more milk I needed to finish the work week. I should have had more glasses of wine and i might have realized that giving formula is fine. It would have saved me a ton of tears and frustration. It's a lot easier to look back and say this.

I haven't heard that pumps only last a year. I used my PIS a few times a day for the first year of my son's life and I pumped several times a day for 9 months out of my daughter's life (they're a little over 2 years apart). Let's just say my PIS has been greatly abused and it would still work, if I was pumping!

About stopping pumping and milk supply - I can only say my experience, but I started cutting back the number of pumps sometime after 9 months with my son, until I gradually wasn't pumping at all. I never noticed a change in supply, but he was a determined nursing fiend anyway - he'd just stay at it until he got something!

Hayley - I so remember the impact of stuffy noses on nursing. Hugs. Definitely try saline nose spray, also recommend a vaporizer or humidifier. Also, you could ask your ped about decongestant. As for pumping - do you have a hands free bra? I came to depend so much on mine, that it was hard for me to pump without one. I found I produced more when I wore one (specifically, I had the made by moms pumping band, http://store.babycenter.com/product/made+by+moms+pumping+band.do?search=basic&keyword=pumping+band&sortby=shortdesc&asc=true&page=1). It kept my mind off pumping and the clock b/c I could actually do things with my hands like read magazines, eat, type, etc. I exclusively pumped for my daughter for 9 months, I had really no problem with my supply, I could have gone longer but I was sick and tired of it!

Christina, in September, when I decided to start weaning my then 13-month-old son, I accidentally left my pump at home one day. It turned out to be a blessing. I found that I had enough milk to nurse him when I got home, and again before he went to bed. Since he was drinking both whole milk and frozen breast milk while I was at work (I had a decent amount stored), I decided to stop pumping altogether. My body adjusted well -- when he nursed more often on weekends, there was always enough for him. And it was great not having to interrupt my work day to pump. That said, I didn't care if my milk supply went down when I stopped, so if you're not ready to wean then maybe you shouldn't give up pumping yet.

ooooh definitely pass it on. i got my Pump in Style from a mama, and i just passed it on to another mama. and, i think, if you can hang in there and keep pumping, it's worth it!

p.s. Hayley - i went through a similar thing with my son when he was about 4 months old. i went back to work, and noticed that he only wanted the bottle, even when i was home. i was horrified to say the least (Asher, my son, was 4 weeks premature and didn't learn to latch for 8 WEEKS, during which i pumped and finger-fed him... though i was blessed with an abundant supply of milk). Anyway, i finally just stopped giving in to the bottle when i was home, and he was pretty mad for about a week, but then settled for the breast again.

but i know each situation is very different... i just wanted to share. hearing about other mamas is the only thing that got me through my breastfeeding trials and tribulations.

What should I do with my medela pump in style circa 1998? I have used it a total of three kids, one year each. I don't want to just toss it in the trash.

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