My Life as an EP-ing (exclusively pumping) mommy

Little C just turned 2 months old yesterday and it's been roughly that much time since I became an exclusively pumping (EP-ing) mommy. While committed to providing breastmilk for my son, I realized that direct breastfeeding isn't a lifestyle that works for our family. As I've mentioned in a previous post, direct feeding turned out to be a lot harder than expected, mostly since Little C is like big brother J, who won't stop feeding. I had a hard time with being stuck to one spot for the entire day with all the things that need to be done and I switched to EP-ing for Little C.

What's an EP-ing mom anyway? 

An EP-ing mom, according to my definition at least, is a mom who doesn't directly nurse her child, but instead expresses breastmilk for the little one's consumption. Mind you, being an EP-ing mom is just as hard as direct feeding. At least with direct feeding, you have the pleasure of holding your child while you're feeding him. That's one thing I miss terribly. But every time we try direct feeding with Little C, I ended up being stressed because there were so many other things that need my attention and my milk supply tanks, which is a worse situation for my baby boy.

What's a day like in the life of this EP-ing mom?

I'm at the pump every 2 hours from 6am to 6pm. After 6pm, it's every 3 hours, so pumps are scheduled at 9pm, 12am, 3am and 6am. Classic example of how motherhood means no holidays and no days off. No matter the day, I keep this schedule. This ensures that I pump more than 8 times a day, with each session lasting 20 minutes.

The time in between these pumps is scheduled for meals, baths, errands and household chores, including cooking. I also spend time with my boys, individually and together. Usually, right after I pump, I spend a few minutes cuddling or playing with Little C. Other times, I horse around with J. In the past few days, I've started taking a few minutes a day trying to teach him his ABCs, which is a bit rough going for now since his attention span is still a bit limited. We're making progress though. The time between my 4pm and 6pm pump is dedicated to cooking dinner and taking a walk with J. Between 6pm and 9pm, it's dinner time, family time and bath time. Big C spends time with J while I'm in charge of Little C.

I can also work in between pumps and while pumping. I bought a hands-free pumping bra from Tiny Tots, which lets me continue working while expressing milk for Little C.

How much milk do I get?

Each pumping session yields at least 2oz (worst case) and 4.5oz (best case). My best pumping times are during the wee hours of the morning, maybe due to the fact that the gaps between pumps are 3 hours instead of just 2. During the day, it's usually 2.50 to 2.75 oz. :-)

I'd have to admit it's not as much as I'd hope. You know those moms who post pictures of a freezer full of expressed milk? That's not me. I'm lucky if my milk even makes it to the fridge for storage. Usually what I pump is just enough to keep up with Little C's feedings. Right now, my total daily output ranges from 28 to 30 oz per day, which isn't enough for Little C's needs. He takes around 30-35 oz of milk per day in total, so we supplement with formula. It's usually needed in the late afternoons, when my milk supply is lowest. We've yet to have a day where he has nothing but my milk, but I haven't given up.

I refuse to let the fact that I'm mixed feeding discourage me. As it is, this is a better situation than two years ago when J was an infant. My milk was supplementing the formula, instead of the other way around. Now, Little C's consumption is at less than 20% on most days. (And yes for disbelievers, those statistics are legit. I have a spreadsheet. Haha.) And like I said, I'm still holding out hope that my patience with pumping will pay off and that my milk will be enough for my son.

For those who are wondering, it's not impossible. I actually know someone only let her baby latch during the first week and had a hard time with it, but has kept her baby on breastmilk until he was 8 months old. That's the dream for me.

What happens when I go out?

I usually bring my breastpump with me so I can keep up with the schedule. But when I'm out, the gaps between pumpings are usually 3-4 hours, which are about as far apart as I go. I make sure to pump just before I leave the house and count 3-4 hours from that time. I'm rarely out of the house for more than 6 hours, so I just pump once while I'm out and again as soon as I get home. It makes very little difference in my total daily output.

It's a new experience for me to pump while out of the house. When I was expressing milk for J, it was always at home. Since I wasn't able to supply much milk for him, I'd go out as I pleased and expressed as soon as I got home. With Little C, it's different. I'm actually capable of supplying most of the milk he needs so I'm stricter with myself. It's a bit disconcerting at first, but after a couple of times you get used to it. I've pumped while having dinner with friends, and in the car while travelling from one place to another.

It's a bit harder than it used to be with J, when I didn't keep to a strict schedule. Going out is also trickier and requires a lot more forethought. I have to think about how long we're going to be out, when I can pump and how long my cooler pack will last. So far, it's lasted me 6 hours and the milk was still nice and cool when we got home.

My new best friend and fashion accessory. :-)
It's two months into my life as an EP-ing mom. With J, I lasted until he was 8 months old, supplementing his formula diet with my breastmilk. Others in my position would probably have been discouraged, thinking that since most of his diet is formula anyways, might as well just give up and gone with formula after the first few weeks. But my thinking was a little breastmilk is better than none, so I kept at it, until my supply dwindled to practically nothing.

With Little C, I've been fortunate that my patience has paid off. My supply is increasing just a little bit each day. Still not enough to provide for his entire consumption, but just enough to keep me going until the next day. I haven't set an exact goal for myself, like stopping when he's 6 months old, or 8 months old like J, or until he's a year old or two years old. Right now, I'm just taking it a day at a time and hopefully, my one-day-at-a-time attitude will pay off and my son will eventually have nothing but my milk. :-)


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imallalonetobehappy said...

Did u ever get trouble on blocked duct?

imallalonetobehappy said...

Did u ever get trouble on blocked duct?

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