I'm an Inpatient Pharmacist, and I Exclusively Pump. Guest Blogger Cassara Brewer, Pharm.D., BCPS
Hello! My name is Cassara, I am an inpatient staff pharmacist at an academic medical center in Omaha, Nebraska, USA, and most importantly, a mom to my almost 11-month-old son Wesley (Wes, Mister, Budbud, etc!). I have exclusively pumped for him basically since he was born.
I had always had the intention of breastfeeding but didn’t know a ton about it as Wes is my first. Unfortunately, it didn’t go quite as planned when we had trouble with his latch in the hospital. He was born at a healthy 8 lb 1 oz but quickly lost 10% of his birth weight. We ended up introducing formula on day of life 2. The nurse helped me set up my pump. I remember getting drops that wouldn’t even fall down into the bottle, but I scooped them up with my finger and fed my milk to him that way. I felt a little like a failure. Wasn’t this supposed to be natural and easy?
After we were discharged I continued to work with a lactation consultant at Milkworks. We tried triple feeding, weighted feeds, we got evaluated for a tongue tie. He just screamed at the breast. Finally I decided that exclusive pumping would be best for us. At that point I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders, and I truly believe Wes was less stressed as well! My type A, OCD personality was much more at ease knowing exactly how much I was pumping and how much milk he was getting.
EPing can be rough. You are attached to your pump a LOT, especially in the early days. I was able to establish a pumping schedule of 7x/day (note: in the beginning, 8-12x/day is recommended). I was gradually able to build my supply from producing 9 oz/day to 40 oz/day at my highest. He received formula in combination with my breastmilk for about the first 4-5 months before I made enough to exclusively feed him breastmilk. Now I have enough frozen stash built up to feed him long after I wean completely. I am gradually weaning off the pump and my supply is going down as well. I am down to 3 pumps per day and the extra freedom is great!
I was very nervous to return to work at 14 weeks postpartum. Fortunately, my supply did not take a hit! I was still at 7 pumps per day but quickly dropped down to 6 as 7 was just so hectic with a full time job.
I am lucky as far as pumping in the workplace. My large hospital has about 5 lactation rooms, and there have only been a couple of times that my pumping schedule has gotten messed up because of my work. There is almost always another pharmacist around to cover. I know this is not the case everywhere, though. If you are a working mom and worried about finding time to pump, you could look into a portable pump. There are pumps these days that you can literally walk around pumping and no one knows! Also, know your state/federal laws. You have the right to express milk, when you need to, for as long as it takes, and you should have a place to do so.
Our breastfeeding journey hasn’t gone exactly as planned, but I feel such a sense of proudness and accomplishment that I could give this gift to my son, and I wouldn’t change it for the world! Feel free to message me with questions.
Cassara Brewer is a board-certified pharmacist, fellow knitter, and all-around awesome human being. We went to pharmacy school together, and I’m lucky to count her in my circle of pharmacists who specialize in lactation. You can find her on Facebook if you have any questions about exclusively pumping.