After 5.5 months (a bit short of my 6 month goal), I’ve stopped pumping for good and can finally keep the pump now! Once the freezer stash finishes, Nat will be 100% on formula milk. Actually, he’s all along been a combo baby so quitting breastmilk isn’t that big a deal.
Emotionally, I’m relieved that I don’t need to sit on my chair to pump anymore though some days I look back and wonder if I could have dragged it on a bit longer. I guess my “self-weaning” was a tad too effective :p
From day 1, I chose to pump exclusively because I felt latching was really quite a hassle especially in the first 1-2 months where I had to latch every 3 hours, for 40 minutes or more each time. I was also 100% sure that once I return to work, I did not want to bring a pump and have to regularly visit the nursing room. I wanted to physically return to my previous norm i.e. not have any feeling that my boobs were going to burst every few hours. These preferences were made clear to HJ from day 1 and he was very supportive in standing behind whatever decision I made. Whether Nat was 100% on formula, majority on formula or 50/50, HJ left it completely to me, while also communicating that he personally would like me to give Nat breastmilk until he was 6 months old. So yes, early communication with your partner is key to helping you keep your sanity in the immediate weeks after giving birth.
So using my return to work (in May) as a guideline, I started planning how to gradually wean off the pump.
November 2016: I was latching Nat every 3 hours and/or pumping to stimulate milk production. Thankfully, I only had some engorgement in the early weeks which my post-natal massage helped to clear the blockages. My daily schedule was 1am, 4am, 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm and 10pm.
December 2016: I decided to exclusively pump and only latch Nat around 1-2x a day. In the early hours of the morning, HJ would also wake up to help feed Nat, while I pumped away. Some nights, Nat’s feeding time and my pump time would coincide so I would just latch him out of convenience but those were rare because I would set my alarm a bit earlier than his feeding time so that once I was done with pumping, I could move on to feeding him. Of course, feeding directly with the breast would have been ‘logistically’ easier i.e. no washing of equipment in the middle of the night but at 4am, I really did not want to sit there for 45minutes fighting to keep my eyes open. Towards the end of the month, I had reduced my pumps per day (ppd) from 8 to 6 times – 1am, 4am, 7am, 12pm, 5pm and 9pm.
January 2017: HJ returned to work and our helper had not arrived yet so stretching my pump intervals allowed me to do more things with Nat. Perhaps dropping to 6 ppd in the 3rd month was too soon. By the end of Jan, my ppd went down further from 6 to 5 times – 3am, 7am, 12pm, 5pm, 11pm. As Nat was only waking up once a night for a small feed, I matched his schedule to wake up only 1x to pump.
February 2017: My target ppd was 4 times because I needed to reach 3, 2 then 1 by March, April and May when I returned to work. Jan to Feb also saw my most output per pump so I started stocking up the freezer stash during this time. This also meant that each pump’s output was able to match Nat’s milk intake. However, the moment Nat started sleeping longer in the night after his 1030pm feed, I decided to drop my MOTN pump. Surprisingly, I had no engorgement issues or discomfort. Once I dropped the MOTN pump, my supply tanked and never went back up. On hindsight, I could have delayed dropping it until March?
March 2017: I continued pumping 4 times a day, as per Feb’s schedule – 7am, 12pm, 6pm and 11pm until end of March when I dropped it to 3 ppd. So instead of a 5-6 hour interval, I pumped every 8 hours – 7am, 3pm, 11pm.
April 2017: The month isn’t over and my original plan was to maintain 2 ppd – one in the morning and one just before I went to bed. Technically I could also continue with 2 ppd in May when I return to work but I figured that the morning would be a mad rush getting ready for work so I would rather not. Then because my output had already decreased so much, I was like heck it, let’s just try 1 pump a day, which was originally May’s plan. I then pumped 1x a day before I went to bed for a few days before deciding to just drop pumping totally and see if I experienced any discomfort. As I’ve not pumped at all for the past 3 days, I think it’s considered a done deal.
Would I do the same thing again i.e. feeding a combo of formula and breastmilk if I have a second kid – most likely yes, but maybe I would not drop 2 pumps at the 3rd month. I guess once I got the hang of getting so much done by stretching my intervals, I could not go back to pumping every 3-4 hours. Moreover, I also wanted to be able to eat and drink whatever I felt like having without having to worry about it affecting my breastmilk and by extension, Nat.
Owell, because of this, I now have to pay the price, literally for more milk powder haha