Pumping makes me crazy. I said it before, my life was much simpler before I had to pump. Probably the biggest damage done by the pump is that I worry about my supply so much more. Before, I just knew that my baby was satisfied and gaining weight and filling diapers. He is a pro at all of that. But when I pump things change. I know how much milk I make. I *have to* make that much milk tomorrow (or more) or MY SUPPLY IS DWINDLING AND I'M GOING TO DRY UP AND NEVER BREASTFEED AGAIN AND I WON'T BE ABLE TO HAVE ANY MORE CHILDREN AND THAT WILL BE IT SO I HAD BETTER MAKE MORE MILK NOW, DAMMIT! breathe Amanda, breathe.
A little crazy I know. But at the same time, it's not all bad being protective of my supply. I would be sad if I had lost it and had to quit breastfeeding Michael before either of us is ready to quit.
So every time my pumping output dips I blame myself for not doing a good enough job, or Michael and his ear infections for making it more difficult to suckle, or cough drops. And I take more fenugreek, pump more, do everything that is within my power to get it back. And sometimes this is in vain.
Sometimes it takes awhile for me to catch on to what should probably be obvious. I have a Medela Freestyle. I spent a lot of time deliberating on what pump to get. Every pump out there has good and bad reviews. I had a hard time making a decision, but what it came down to was they are very small/portable, they come with a hands free setup, long battery life, Medela is a trusted breast pump manufacturer, and my SIL managed to exclusively pump for a year with one, but mostly because that's what the LC had in stock.
But the other week, I forgot to charge the battery so I took my AC adapter to work with me and pumped off that. I pumped several more ounces than the day before. I took note. I went back in reread the reviews for the pump and noticed several other people had a similar experience. And yet I did not connect the dots.
Then I was reading Kate's blog the other day and gave her the advice to talk to Medela about the pump if she's loosing supply. After I wrote that, the light bulb came on and I kicked myself in the ass. WHY DON'T I CALL MEDELA?! I know that I get more with the AC adapter. I'd already lost several ounces of output from Monday to Wednesday this week (the battery is fresh on Monday and ready for a recharge on Wednesday night). I've been driving myself mad, blaming myself, my breasts, my child, trying to fight supply loss and the whole time I never blamed the pump! Idiot.
So since I happened to have my pump and my receipt (because I keep my FSA file at work) I went ahead and called. The customer service rep tried to blame it on the nipple shields that I use but I've already up-sized from the smalls that I started out with (breastfeeding turns cute little nipples into massive MOM nipples). And that still wouldn't explain why I do better when I plug it in. And I have 2 sets of collectors and membranes and I have the same luck with both. So they overnighted me a new pump and battery right then. Less than 24 hours after calling I had a new pump sitting on my doorstep. That was pretty easy. I will say that the rep did not mention to me that I would have to pay for the shipping to return my old pump and battery (yes, I have to send them back), but I was reading through the warranty and it says it there.
I haven't gotten to use the new pump yet, but I will update in a few days. There are a couple of slight differences between my old pump and the new one (the logo, the instruction booklets have some minor differences). I'm just hoping that a fresh battery makes a difference.
I'm hoping that this one lasts me through as long as I need it, but I kinda doubt it will. But then again my SIL did pump exclusively for a year without problems... maybe her boobs are just that much better than mine. No, no hers are not. My body is just as capable of feeding my child as hers is. I will not continue to blame myself for things that are not my fault.
Perhaps you're wondering if I had it to do over again, what pump would I buy? I still love the Freestyle for it's size. If I have to travel or pump on the go, I can't beat it. But that is rare and it was a $300+ pump and there are other ways to make pumps hands free. Knowing what I know now, I'd probably rent a hospital grade pump for work and get an Isis or something for home (I rarely pump at home). I rented a Lactina when I had all of my latch problems with Michael in the beginning. I have never really talked about it on the blog, but after a long period of denial, I definitely suffered from mastitis during those early days and I think that pump was very instrumental in keeping my breasts drained and preventing worsening of the infection. This may be a little graphic for some, but with mastitis, you have gelatinous, lumpy, and stringy milk and that pump sucked it all out. It was soooo gross. My Freestyle can't undo even a little clogged duct, it would have never been up to that task. On the downside, pump rental is expensive and the Lactina is gigantic, but if it could have saved me some mental anguish, it would be worth it. If something happens to this new freestyle out of warranty, I'll probably rent a pump again.