Sunday, February 17, 2013

Partial wean from an exclusive pumper's perspective

Over here in Mo and Will and Magpie Land, we are several days into weaning my left breast. It is emotionally so difficult to close up shop on this tricky breast, but I won't miss the fevers and constant blocked ducts.

My doctor suggested I take the opportunity while on antibiotics to do this weaning, and so I've been working at it for several days.

The process is fairly simple physically...although emotionally, it's a whole other story. Basically, because I'd been so sick, my supply was way down already, and when I resumed my every three hour pumping schedule, I only pumped for 15 minutes on that side. Then every day or every other day (depending on how uncomfortable I've been physically), I've cut down each pump time by 3-4 minutes on the left breast. I go the full amount of time (approximately 30 minutes) on the other breast. I'm down now to four minutes on the left breast, and it produces very little milk in that amount of time. Just pumping on the right breast makes milk let down from the left, though, so that I get about 10 mls just leaking out from that. Not sure how long that will go on for, as I plan tomorrow or the next day to stop pumping on the left side entirely.

So that's the physical part of this. Emotionally, it is so difficult to take actions that reduce my hard-won milk supply, and will eventually stop it on that side. I put in a great deal of effort to get my supply up enough to feed Magpie, particularly challenging for me because she never did really latch on at all. Everything in me emotionally tells me it is wrong to stop pumping from that breast. That my baby needs my food. It must be hardwired, some primal mama thing, because it is soooo powerful. I have to remind myself every time I shut off the pump prematurely why I am doing this. And talk myself out of the idea of, "Maybe now it won't be so bad. Let me try it one more time." I have to remind myself I have tried, and I've gotten mastitis six times, each time more quickly than the time before. I have to tell myself we were headed nowhere good with this. That I needed to stop.

So here we are. At the moment, I'm making about three ounces on the right breast most pumping sessions, which is not enough to feed Ms. Magpie. Once I've fully weaned from the left breast, my doctor said I should wait a couple of days and then can restart the domperidone I was previously taking. With it she thinks I might be able to get my supply up higher. I will try it very cautiously. I think taking the domperidone is part of what has made me susceptible to mastitis. I can't find anything on Google suggesting a link, but it is a suspicion of mine. So I will try the domperidone again, but we are expecting to have to supplement with donor milk or formula. Fortunately these other options exist.

In other news, we are currently on our first real vacation as a family of three! It has been a lot of fun. A real logistical adventure, to be sure! I will post about our time away soon.

But for now, just sign me

Uniboob (Mo)

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  1. Just wanted to wish you well.

    I'm weaning from pumping, though not from the breast, and planning to give your shortening times method a try.

  2. ((HUGS)) It was so hard for me to wean from EPing at 12 months but I knew I had to give my DS more Momma time. You're doing amazing!! I hope righty ups the game and you remain mastitis free on that side!!

  3. I remember the panicky feeling of purposely letting the milk
    supply decline. Primal, illogical but so overwhelming. Honestly, I found as soon as the milk had gone it settled down and my rational side won again. Best of luck with it all as the transition occurs and you settle into your new pattern.

  4. For whatever it's worth, I think you're doing the right thing.

    I've already told you I was never an EBFer, and a month or so after my DS's first birthday I traveled (without him) to a conference. I took my manual pump but my supply, never good, was already way down (not much nursing go on even before I left), and I didn't much use it. By the time I got back -- well, I think I nursed DS maybe one more time and that was that. And it was sad then, too -- I know you're not giving up nursing Magpie but instead giving up supplying from one side, but anyway, I think whenever, however, and why-ever it happens, this stuff is difficult (also, for whatever it's worth, if your experience is like mine in a few years you'll look back and shrug your shoulders. Those post-partum-nursing hormones and their effects don't stick around forever, and of course new mothering challenges arise to require our attention).

  5. Oh, Mo, you are a champ for sticking with it this long and caring so much about giving up the left breast. But, honestly, your health is as important as her getting breast milk from that breast, so try to cut yourself some slack (although I get it, I really do).

    I commend you for doing all that you are doing to give it your best go for her sake.

  6. As an exclusive pumper who weaned early so I could start the TTC #2 thing again, I hear you on the emotional breakdown of intentionally cutting of a hard worked for supply. I'm glad you're able to do this while on antibiotics to prevent another flare up. I hope you enjoy your vacation. Can't wait to hear all about it!

    Good luck! I'm keeping you and ol' lefty in my thoughts (not in a weird way, just in that I hope the weaning continues to go smoothly)

  7. I'm sure this thought has occurred to you, but what if you stop short of weaning the left entirely? Maybe that would help the emotional side of things and also prevent mastitis if the supply is low on that side? Just a thought. Hugs.

  8. It would seem like domperidone could be linked to mastitis via engorgement, which is more likely with higher supply. That never happened to me, though, since I had so little milk with or without domperidone (though it did help some).

    But, based on what you said in a prior post about the direction of the milk ducts on the left side, it seems like mastitis might be inevitable on that side no matter what else is going on. Which I hope makes it feel a little easier to let go, even though I know it is so, so hard.

    Have a great trip!

  9. I feel guilty for grinning so big at "uniboob". Hoping everything goes smoothly!

  10. I seem to remember spotting a gadget that you put in your bra to catch the milk from the opposite breast that occurs duriing let down, they are called Milkies, I believe. That way that little bit isn't wasted. No personal experience with them, though, maybe someone else can weigh in?

    I have heard stories of women who nursed with only one breast and also stories of women who nursed different children on different breasts where the breast assigned to each child produced the amount that child ate so, hopefully, your right breast will kick into gear and produce as much as Ms Magpie needs all by itself. Fingers crossed!

  11. My triplets are nearly 28 months and I quit BF'ing and pumping a long time ago, but choosing to quit earlier than I planned still stings. Definitely get the emotional side of it. A week after I stopped nursing, I dramatically changed my mind because I was so overwhelmed by the "loss" and was desperately trying to get my supply up again to no avail. I really do think that for many of us, moving away from nursing for whatever reason, at whatever time is truly a kind of loss. Totally normal to mourn it for awhile, but make sure you don't beat yourself up about it. You made an enormous effort and you should be proud of yourself.


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