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#1 of 17 Old 05-28-2003, 12:52 PM - Thread Starter
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I went to a meeting yesterday and ran into my old boss. (No, neither of us got hurt! ) She asked me how the old "work-family" balance was going. We talked about it, and then she asked how I was doing with the pumping. She said, "You know, it's okay to give formula if you can't pump enough milk." And she went on to say that she, too, had experienced the problem of not getting as much milk when she was stressed or tired from working and mom-ing.

Now I know she meant that supportively. But I really don't want to give my baby formula. I only said, quietly, "I'd like to avoid giving him formula if at all possible, so I'm taking herbs and being conscientious about drinking water." It was a pretty good thing to say, I didn't criticize her choices or act offended or anything, just said what I'm doing.

But then later I felt totally terrible. I'm really struggling to keep up, even though I get very good yields from pumping. Somehow my baby is ahead of me 1-2 oz. several days a week!

I would like to know if other women have successfully pumped and nursed for a year without using formula. Several folks have said they had. It would feel great to hear it.

I posted this at Breastfeeding Support and Advocacy as well.

Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
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#2 of 17 Old 05-28-2003, 01:01 PM
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My dd took a month to learn to nurse, so during that time, she had some formula the first week until my milk came in. After that first month, I went back to work FT (50 hrs a week, including commute) when she was 9 weeks old. She had nothing but breastmilk for the first 6 or 7 mos when we started solids (started about 6.5 mos). There was one time in the first year (after our rocky start) she had about 4 oz of formula. There was one night when I was late getting home from work by about 20 minutes and MIL (who was watching her) couldn't hold her off any longer.

I pumped 3x a day at work, sometimes in the morning and when I got home (would nurse dd on one side and pump the other) and I'd try to get an extra pumping in once during the weekend.

It can be done and it's totally worth it.

Edited to say- I forgot to add, I pumped until she was about 13 mos and she weaned at 20 mos when I was pg w/ds.

Michelle -mom to Katlyn 4/00 , Jake 3/02, and Seth 5/04
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#3 of 17 Old 05-28-2003, 01:04 PM
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I did.
I went back to work full time when ds was 2 months old.
He is now 13 months old and he has never never had a drop of formula.

I pumped 2x a day at work with the Avent Isis. I had a PIS but I never used it. Anyway, I drank lots of mothers milk tea, took lecithin supplements to ward off plugged ducts..

and generally took home anywhere from 6-16 ounces a day, depending on how much time I had.

Sometimes we got low on reserves, so I'd pump at home during the weekend to make up for it.

I still BF but ds isn't interested in EBF.. so I don't pump anymore.. we just nurse at night, before work and on my off time.
He also has started drinking organic whole cows milk in a sippy.

Anyway, you can do it. You can.
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#4 of 17 Old 05-28-2003, 01:12 PM
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While I cannot say my dd never had formula (can you say birthing nightmare) once I got her completely on the breast, we were able to avoid formula for the remainder of the first year. I went back when she was 3 mos. and pumped til she was about 12 or 13 mos. Luckily (or unluckily) for me she sort of reverse cycled and never took huge bottles. Even so I did try and keep up with the water, oatmeal, rest and even took herbs on occasion to stay abreast of her needs, especially during those growth spurts. I also had a HUGE freezer stash so that when I did run short, she was still able to have ebm.

In the back of my mind, I knew that I could provide formula if need be, but like you I felt quite strongly that she only have ebm/breastmilk. We made out pretty good and I wish for you the same. It is hard work and sometimes sacrifice. Each mom has to decide how far they are willing/able to go. My best to you and let us know how it goes!!
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#5 of 17 Old 05-28-2003, 10:59 PM
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DD and I have made it to ten months without formula. Early on I was paranoid about supply, so I ate oatmeal regularly, watched my water intake, and worked in some extra pumping sessions for a while, including on weekends. I managed to build up a modest freezer stash, and then DD reverse-cycled -- more nursing at night vs. lukewarm interest in bottles during the day -- so my stash grew further. When I'm tired and stressed (and I have been that way a lot lately), I don't pump as much as she drinks, but that freezer stash has tided us over so far.

Good luck! It *can* be done, and the effort shows how much you care.
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#6 of 17 Old 05-29-2003, 12:15 PM
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My experience has been similar to MamaDeLiana. We've made it to 10 months (actually 10 1/2) and no formula so far (she did get a little by syringe a couple days after she was born bc the nurses convinced me her blood sugar was low, but none since that day). I returned to work when dd was 11 1/2 weeks part time for a week to ease us back, gradually increasing my hours over the first week and a half. DD did not like the bottle at all at first (took only 2 oz my first day back and I was gone from 8 to about 2). Since then, she's never taken more than 14 oz in one day and usually more like 10-12 oz. I usually am able to pump between 12 and 14 oz now, but the first 3 months I consistently got 14-15 oz and accumulated quite a freezer stash. I ended up donating much of my freezer stash to a friend who'd had a breast reduction and wasn't able to BF exclusively. As soon as I did that, AF returned 6 months to the day and my supply dipped. Every time AF visits, I am only able to pump 10 oz max for a couple of days. But it is definitely possible! The reverse cycling has been a blessing in a couple of ways. It has kept my supply up with the consistent night feedings and has kept dd's EBM requirements in line with what I'm able to produce. In fact, my ob/gyn is convinced that the main reason her supply dwindled when she returned to work after her baby was born was that she slept through the night so soon.

You can definitely do this!! I would recommend a couple of things. Drink lots of water and do not diet during your time of pumping. I know you want to lose baby weight, but I think an adequate calorie intake is essential for pumping even moreso than BF alone (BTW, I haven't dieted at all, but have still managed to lose most of my baby weight, although it took about 9 months). Also, don't even consider nightweaning if your little one isn't sleeping through the night until your pumping is well-established.
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#7 of 17 Old 05-29-2003, 12:26 PM
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I didn't read all the other posts but, I pumped for 14 mos and my ds never had formula.

Water, water, water!

Pumping on a regular schedule helps too.

Nursing on demand whenever your with babe is a must!
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#8 of 17 Old 05-29-2003, 03:30 PM
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Hi, I pumped for the first year and never used any formula! My dd never took to the bottle too well and kind of adjusted to waiting for mama to come home. I would nurse her during lunch and pump 2x a day. Around 11 months, I pumped only 1x a day. By the time she was 12 months, she wasn't really taking any of the ebm and was, instead, waiting till I got home. May BF babies do that when mom isn't around. We're still nursing and she's 16 months old now....almost 17 months Anyway, you can definitely do it. Don't let the stress get to you. I always tried to pump over the weekend to have an extra stash in case during the week I fell behind. After a couple of months, however, I realized that she wasn't taking all that much, so I only pumped once or twice on the weekends. Keep doing what you are doing! It sounds like you are on the right road! Also, don't let well-meaning advice get you down or anger you. Sometimes people say it because they are envious that you are doing what you are doing. Others, however, mean it as a way of being supportive and letting you know that you don't have to kill yourself to bf your baby. Either way, take everything with a grain of salt and a smile. Good luck!!
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#9 of 17 Old 05-29-2003, 06:46 PM
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My experience is also similar to everyone else's. I pumped for DS with a PIS until DS was about 15 months. After that, he was relatively disinterested in EBM so I weaned myself from the pump :. There were difficult moments - stress, illness, not enough water, etc. - where I wasn't pumping quite enough. My freezer stash got us through that. I also used herbs like fenugreek and my favorite, More Milk Plus. That stuff was a godsend for me!

To build a stash, I started pumping in the mornings once my supply was established (at about 5 weeks). Even though I only pumped 2 - 3 ounces, I built up quite an inventory in the freezer that way. I continued pumping in the mornings until DS was about 9 months. I wound up dumping about 100 ounces of EBM just last month since DS has decided it isn't for him. That was painful.

I probably should caveat this by saying that DS never was much of a bottle drinker. He maxed out at about 9 ounces a day when we were away from one another, so I didn't have a high quota to meet. Reverse cycling was pretty much a way of life for us until about 14 or 15 months. He is just now getting to the point where he doesn't need the night-nursing as much on a regular basis. It also helped that I was only away from him for about 6 - 7 hours a day until he was about 6 months old.

I worried a lot about my supply and that was probably the single most detrimental thing for it. Stress is a huge factor, so while it's easy for me to say now from the other side, do your best to create a relaxing environment when you pump. Surf the web, read, or meditate - whatever works to calm you. And, yes, water water water! There were ebbs and flows to my supply, so I learned to rely on the freezer stash when I had to.

You can do it! I'm sure that your old boss was truly trying to be supportive. I can barely imagine anyone in my office nursing, much less talking to me intelligently about pumping, so I'm a little jealous actually . That being said, don't let anyone discourage you. Everyone is different, so her experiences have nothing to do with you. It's hard work and blessings to you for doing this wonderful thing for your little one!
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#10 of 17 Old 05-29-2003, 11:04 PM
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Hi Captain Optimism.

I work part-time (3 7-hour days for most of the first year; now 4 5-hour days) and never gave formula to my twins (once daycare mixed up bottles and my DS got a bottle of another kid's formula--I cried SOOO hard; my DD refused the formula--go girl!). It was really a struggle for a while there. I pumped every two hours at work, and at bedtime every night. Occasionally, I pumped in the morning too. I have heard a good tip from other W&P moms--nurse, shower, pump in the morning. The shower helps you produce more for the pump after just having nursed. The other thing that made a huge difference for me was going to daycare to nurse the babes at lunchtime. I doubt I would have made it without this (I had high lipase too so my whole freezer stash went bad ). I saw on the other thread that DH sometimes brings DD to nurse with you. I would say that if you do that for a few weeks, even a month or two, every day you work, you will be able to avoid giving formula. It may be a PITA for them, but it's a huge benefit for both of you and can really get your supply in gear. I also had the (dubious) advantage of my DD being a major reverse cycler. She will take the bottle sometimes, but has never been a fan of EBM, so I was able to get away with about 20 oz. per day when they weren't doing solids (now it's about 10-14 oz in one pumping session).

Other tips. Eat oatmeal every day. This made a difference. Pump more often for shorter sessions. Even break up one pumping session into two short stints, which can get you back to a second letdown. It sounds like you're already doing this, but try to do something else while pumping so you're not watching the pump. I always found that I got more when I wasn't thinking about it. Breast compression when you pump.

Most importantly, remember that even though it doesn't feel like it, this is a short season. DD will be taking solids in a few months and you don't have to do this forever. If it cuts into your work a little, or it inconveniences DH, remember that it's just for a few months and soon you'll be able to pump once or twice a day and not worry about it, and you can make up for all those things then.

Finally, I will say that though not giving formula was important for me for a lot of reasons I won't go into here, some of which were all about me and not about my babies, I really don't think that supplementing a bit, if necessary, with a baby who is no longer a newborn, is really not a terrible thing. They have organic formula at bread & circus and I think they follow the WHO marketing code. If you find you have to supplement, don't beat yourself up on it. You have done your very best, and your DD is getting tons of benefits from all the milk you pump for her (and all the nursing you do with her). You're a great mom. Forgive yourself if that's what happens.


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#11 of 17 Old 05-30-2003, 12:19 AM
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My youngest is 3. I went back to work full time when she was 6 weeks old. (So very hard, so very very hard, so very neccesary). She never had formula. Sometimes I was just barely keeping up with pumping, but we did it. Since I was away from her for so many hours a day, her having my milk became of the utmost importance to me. It can be done. I became a single mom when she was 2 months old. (Still very very sad). But I was (and am) determined to provide for her in this way. I am sure there are others who have tried as hard as they could, and could not make it work, but we did it.
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#12 of 17 Old 05-31-2003, 03:53 PM
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We did it without any formula. If you're running low, either add an extra pumping session during the day or (if you can stand it) get up in the wee hours (3-4am worked best for me) and pump then, when your supply is at its peak.

You're using an electric pump, like a Pump-in-Style, right?
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#13 of 17 Old 05-31-2003, 09:23 PM
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DD is now almost 15 months, and no formula! I went back to work when she was 9 weeks old, and she nursed every two hours at that time . . .for over 6 months!!!! So, I did what I had to do - pumped every 2 to 3 hours to keep up. I also pumped in the mornings before I left for work, right after I nursed her, and in the evenings if the freezer supply got too low.

Now I still pump once per day if I am going to miss her evening nursing . . . missing the other one or two nursings isn't too bad, but I am in agony by 2 AM if I miss the final nursing!

Good luck!

mommy to Greta 3/14/02
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#14 of 17 Old 06-01-2003, 05:17 PM
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i've been meaning to chime in on this one for awhile, seeing as how i just went through a similar experience to captain...as in, feeling like i'm giving this working and pumping thing all i've got, and then some well-meaning person comes along and gives me the whole "you know there's always formula" routine...

CO, I do want to say that your reply was right on...not overly defensive, but calmly stating what your intentions are. So bravo for that. In terms of what everyone else has said, I don't really have much to add. I had a pretty easy time pumping for my older daughter for about a year, and then she made the transition to cows milk in a sippy cup very easily, while continuing to nurse with me at night. I am finding it to be ever so much harder this second time around, but I am not going to give up.

Seems like the least little thing throws us off--one different nursing time, one missed pumping session, you name it. My dd's latest trick is to completely refuse bottles of ebm that dh gives her...so last night, I came home from my concert, prepared to pump today's bottle (I have another concert tonight), only to find an awake baby ready to nurse. So I think I need to pull back on the outside activities...which I am more than happy to do, ONCE I get through tonight's concert!

Good luck, and as others have said, you can do it. Take care,

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#15 of 17 Old 06-06-2003, 04:05 PM
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I haven't read all the answers (i'm supposed to be working!) but I can tell you my babe never had formula.

I returned to work full time (9:30 - 5:30) when he was almost 4 months and I hand expressed his milk until he was 12 or 13 months. I never could get it with pumping so I tried with my hands and it felt much better. I used to take home around 200 cm each day. Around 9 months he started to drink less and less, kind of he waited for me to eat.

Breastfeeding on demand when we were together, co-sleeping and tons of water made the trick. It is possible. it is hard work but so worth it.

He is 25 months right now and stills nurses when I'm around.

Good luck!

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#16 of 17 Old 06-07-2003, 12:11 PM
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Neat thing...The other day, I went thru the pantry and had to toss .... expired formula! DS3 never needed it! I was soooo excited, as I went back to work when he was 4 months old. Since I had a very flexible and wonderful boss, I only worked 4-5 hours at a time. I also had a MIL who is very supportive... And the DH is awesome about BFing support....DS3 is now 20 months old and still nursing.. We love it!
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#17 of 17 Old 06-10-2003, 04:54 PM
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I too am supposed to be working so I have not read most of the replies.
At some point it just became too hard to keep up. I really really tried, but my body just couldn't do it. Water, nursing on demand, teas blah blah blah. I was getting stressed about the inability to make enough milk. Then I realized that DD was almost 11 mo and it was OK to supplement. I had done the best I could and that was all that was required and getting more stressed wasn't worth it.
I think it depends on a lot of things, so do what you can. Do your best! Then if it isn't working, eveluate what you want to do. I didn't supplement at home, just at daycare. For sopme reason she loves to eat a lot there too. She eats way more than at home. So she had to eat formula. I am fine with it. Still, I think it should be possible, I just didn't have what it took.
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