Do you remember your first time holding your baby? The first time you became a mom and your baby looked up at you? How did you feel?
Then you moved onto your first time changing diapers, your first time nursing a baby, your first time seeing them smile, your first time helping them take their first steps. These are all milestones all moms share together with warm sentiments.
One milestone seldom spoken about is your first time using your breast pump. Did it work without any troubles? Did you get a full 8-ounce bottle of milk that allowed you to put half in a bottle for the baby and put half away in your freezer for a date night? Did you have bleeding nipples? Were your shields the right sizes?
My first time pumping wasn't a success - it was awful. I read the advice in books and I had coaching from my sister: try to relax, don't stress, and don't pay attention to the volume of milk. I remember I was watching the movie Betsy's Wedding on TV and trying not to entertain any thoughts in my head, like these ones:
Am I doing this right? Why isn't anything happening? Why does this hurt? Should I turn it up? Which knob do I use to turn it up? No, that's not the right knob. Oh, ok, there's a little bit of milk. Hmmm, why is my right side filling up faster than my left side? Is that normal? No one said that would happen - maybe I'm doing something wrong. I should probably only do one side at a time in case the baby wakes up and I don't have any milk left. Oh, no, what if he wakes up and I don't have any milk and he won't take the milk in a bottle? OK, don't look at the bottles and maybe they'll fill up faster. Don't look at the bottles. Don't look at the bottles. Don't look at the clock, either. Watch the movie about Betsy's Wedding - is that Molly Ringwald? Hmmm, wonder if she's ever used a breast pump?
Then I thought I was finished - and I had less than two ounces of milk! I thought I should have a full bottle! I had timed it so I was pumping the "leftover" milk, which I later learned is a completely acceptable amount of milk for that condition. Most moms aren't able to pump more than 1-2 ounces in the beginning and this is very normal because a newborn baby's stomach can only hold 3-5 ounces even at four weeks old.
I also learned to pump in the mornings before he woke up so that I could build a stash for the freezer - a newborn is much more efficient at emptying a breast and stimulating more milk than any pump so the pumping sessions became easier and my son was able to encourage my body to keep making more for him.
I was able to work up to 2oz, 4oz, 6oz and at my best pumping times I could get 10+ ounces. When that happened I called my "over supply" friend and shared my proud pumping amounts and we laughed about it.
We all love hearing other moms' pumping stories. How was your first time?