The End. 

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

– CK


Baby Staycation 101 

Thanks to my Grandpa who has 7 days worth of Amara vouchers, the family is taking turns to have staycations. For now, because it’s only in Singapore, things are still pretty easy but I’m quite sure after this, we will travel in June without the kiddo (then it would be considered a true vacation!) With Nat, so many things need to be brought along for just 1 night and most of our schedule is also dependent on when he needs to feed and nap.

Packing: Bring extras for everything baby-related… like really everything because you never know if they will pee/poop/puke on their clothes. This applies to diapers and all milk-related items too unless one is exclusively breastfeeding. Things like bolsters that help baby to sleep better is also necessary to create a sleep environment that is closest to home. As babies can’t use the soap/shampoo provided by hotels, there’s a need to pack their bath items separately too.

Feeding: As I’m still pumping, I chose to bring the Spectra as it’s way more effective than my other manual pump. So below are just some of the “extra” things one needs to bring just for the baby if bottle-feeding. I refuse to bring a bottle warmer so a hot kettle, boiling water and a cup works just fine. Of course it’s easier to just let Nat latch on but nah… his milk intake is already quite erratic this week so I rather know how much he’s drinking as opposed to latching where I’ll have no idea. So what happens to the milk pumped out? Kept in the fridge and then made warm using the old fashion way of boiled water.

Activities: After checking in, it was time for Nat’s feed and PM nap so while the kiddo and HJ slept, I went to the spa! Was originally planning on going to the gym but my whole back has been aching after carrying Nat in the carrier to shop at Bugis Junction last Saturday so better not.  We got lucky with our dinner venue at the restaurant TENDON at Tanjong Pajar, which was usually very packed at lunch and dinner times with very long queues, but still had seats available when we walked in at 6pm!

This morning, Nat managed to get some swim time in the bathtub because we forgot to pack our swim wear! Next time we’ll definitely go to the pool.

Since he was still much smaller than the tub, he was able to kick from one end to the other whereas in the inflatable pool at home, he could only tread water and/or move in circles.

Sleep-wise, we were crazy enough to do an experiment – to listen to Nat’s body, forgo the dreamfeed and see if he still needed a MOTN feed. Most important guideline to follow, only sleep train or do sleep experiments if one does not need to wake up to work the next day. Here’s how it went:

620pm: Seemed hungry (last feed was 4hrs ago) but he only drank 60ml then fell asleep at 7pm

805pm: Hungry and drank 120ml before sleeping at 915pm

We didn’t top up with any dreamfeed and as we rightly predicted, he was hungry at 230am so we fed him 60ml to last until 6am

Verdict: Nat still needs a dreamfeed to last through the whole night and we are 90% sure he’s gonna be bunking at my mom’s if we travel in June. Seriously.

– CK

Tonsillitis, Antibiotics & Breastmilk

It was my last resort, going to Mount A on Tues (24/1) night for my throat because the sore throat and coughing had been there for 1 week. I had taken the usual medicine such as Difflam and Prospan for the soreness and dry cough respectively but as the Doctor said, these only treated the symptoms and since it was not working, I had to start a 5 day course of Clarithromycin antibiotics.

Then the natural question I had was if Nat could still drink breastmilk and I received 2 different replies:

(1) From the GP: her advice was to not breastfeed until the course was over i.e. pump and dump for 5 days (even though I plan to wean Nat off by end-April when I go back to work, it is not a nice feeling when you have to pump and dump your milk)

(2) The pharmacist: her advice was to breastfeed after 8 hours, when not much of the antibiotics is left in my system so that meant dumping 2 pumps a day (but at least Nat would still get breastmilk as long as it was after 8 hours)

Thankfully the next day we were going to TMC for Nat’s review to check if his lungs are clear because he was also coughing for a week and I decided to ask the PD since she is the expert for everything related to babies right…

(3) The PD: her advice was that Clarithromycin belongs to a class of antibiotics that can be taken while breastfeeding so no need to pump and dump (hooray!)

Nevertheless, since I am paranoid, I felt safer giving Nat milk that I pumped 8 hours after taking the meds.

Of course there is research that says babies may have diarhoea or colic due to the presence of antibiotics – hence I chose to play safe by feeding him only 8hrs after taking my meds. So to supplement, we either give more formula or take some breastmilk from his freezer stash. Originally, I had wanted to use this freezer “reserve” for after April but just as well, it can be used now for times like this!

Sigh… let’s hope I don’t have to take anymore antibiotics until Nat’s fully weaned off breastmilk. By then, I’ll also be able to take stronger meds such as cough mixture with codine inside which I am not able to now so after 1.5 weeks, the cough is still here but seems to be at the end of its course.

 – CK

Why Pump? 

Because it is what my days and nights revolve around.

So how did I decide on being an exclusively pumping mum (almost), despite not buying a pump until 2 days post-partum? Well, here’s the low down.

  1. Nat did not have any problems latching, in fact he latches probably too well. The lactation consultant from Thomson Medical Centre (TMC), the hospital which I gave birth in, called him a piranha so go figure.
  2. In the initial first two weeks, he was latching every 3hours and I was pumping on my Spectra S1 (massage mode) to try and main stimulate milk supply. I really respect moms who choose to exclusively breastfeed because I could not continue being latched on every 2-3hours. I felt like a cow, an unhappy one, with not much milk to offer.
  3. Then there was the formula talk with HJ whether I should go 100% formula since Nat was already being supplemented with it and we are very blessed because despite being given formula in bottle as a supplement, Nat did not reject the idea of direct latching. He basically will eat from anything. So back to the formula talk, HJ genuinely felt that breastmilk has its benefits (which I am also inclined to believe) and that the right thing to do was to breastfeed until at least 6 months (in line with WHO’s recommendations). So fine, I decided to suck it up and persevere because I knew that Nat would benefit from breastmilk. To balance things, I chose to then pump out the milk so that he could still have the benefits without me having to deal with a piranha. 
  4. The hard truth came when I did more researching and read that there was also apparently a distinction between babies who are breastfed directly vs. breastfed through a bottle via pumping. Nonetheless, I stuck with the decision to pump majority of the time and have Nat latch occasionally because as long as these conditions were met, it was good enough for me. Nat would be drinking mostly breastmilk supplemented by some formula in the night or when we went out and I would be comfortable with his on and off latching (1-2x a day or when it is too troublesome to pump).

So I guess the morale of my story is really about making a decision that both mother and baby is comfortable with. And father too because as a result of my pumping routine that may or may not sync with Nat’s feeding time, HJ has been the one helping with most night feeds while I’m either resting between pumps or pumping.

Am just glad I’ve got 4months of this journey to go. As to how we’re going to manage the night time feeds and sleep training – that’s another post for another time.

– CK