My guest is Stacie, a wife, mom, and current clinical year Physician Assistant student (who will be certified in August!). She had her daughter, Eleanor, in March 2020 just as the US was going into lockdown. This episode was recorded when her baby was 7 months old.
In our conversation we discuss Stacie’s success with Exclusive Pumping, juggling PA school and new parenthood, the isolation of having a newborn during quarantine, storing breastmilk at family and friends’ houses, mastitis, nipple cream, DIY nursing bras, and the importance of no judgment when it comes to how each mom feeds her baby.
Stacie references the Pump Log app, which she found incredibly helpful.
Podcast artwork by Staci Oswald Creative - logos, branding, and photography
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Podcast artwork by Staci Oswald aka my favorite designer EVER + mom of 2 bundles of boy energy
Welcome to spilling the milk, the podcast where we talk about the ups and downs of feeding your baby. It is not a topic that gets talked about enough, and we're trying to change that. My guest today is Stacie, who I have known for over a decade. She had her daughter Eleanor in March 2020, just as the world was going into lockdown. We talked about some of the unique challenges that presented as well as her journey with exclusive pumping and some of her tips for other moms who might find this the best solution for their family as well.
How are you? I'm doing good. I'm hanging in there. It's a good answer, so you had a baby like the day the pandemic was starting in the US. Basically, does that sound about right? I was induced. I went in like the night before the hospital went like on serious shut down. So my family was able to come up there and see her when she was born, but the next day. They shut the hospital down as we were being discharged pretty much. Oh my gosh, yeah. Yeah, I'm glad your family got so got to be there. So then when you went home how were there you know how was the whole experience? It was pretty good, I mean like. We just we had a couple people come over the day that we got home from the hospital and like my neighbor made us dinner and stuff but after that like we went on serious lockdown like nobody we did not let anybody into our house at that point so we were kind of on our own. I want to say for at least a good two to three months before we let anybody around, so that was a big. Bonding, learning, experience, everything between me and Kalan and then of course with Eleanor so. Is a. It is overwhelming, but we got through it.
Now it would because I mean that's the advice to new moms is always like, don't you know, don't try to do it on all on your own. Ask for help. You know having Gramma come over? At least I come over. And like you know, do your dishes, your laundry, and like you couldn't do that. I'm very thankful for Caitlin, and I think we have a good relationship where like. We just kind of rotated the chores around the house and then food honestly was a big problem because like all the restaurants shut down and like people weren't. You know, people usually bring you food or order pizza or something like nobody was doing that. So we were cooking every single meal for three months nonstop everyday all day. It is. It's the food that gets you. You're right, I didn't even think about that. And you know, we're paying the buzz 'cause we're like vegan so. I don't even know if anybody would have cooked us anything. I think I think in normal circumstances people would have. That's so true. How did you know how to breast feeding start off
so I did have a consultant like come in in the hospital and kind of like work with me and help me. She latched well on one side and the other side was kind of a struggle but you know she kind of explained different. Techniques to use. So I kept working with it, and then Eleanor also had jaundice when she was born, so we were going to the pediatrician like every day. An I kind of like. I want to say it is like the second or third day. I just like the pediatrician is like. So how are you doing? And I was like I'm fine and then I like burst out in tears. 'cause I was so upset 'cause she she would latch on one side but then the other side. I was just starting to get frustrated because she wasn't latching and I was like she's not eating enough and. I don't know what I'm doing and is very overwhelming. Yeah, yeah it would be. Yeah, that's weird. Had the one side was did you ever figure out what the issue was? I don't think so. Honestly, in my opinion I kind of think I feel I asked the consultant about. I kind of forget what she said, but I feel like the nipple on that side like it's not out. As much as the other side. I don't know if that makes sense. Yeah, inverted flat. Yeah, so in my opinion I feel like that was what it was, but. I'm not sure. Yeah, it's so common to have a difference between the two, like a lot of people I talked to, the baby has a favorite side for sure, and it's almost like you, just like have to. You know, use the non favorite side sometimes just to sort of keep it in Commission. But like you know they we will primarily nurse on the one side. It's so interesting how it works out for me too. I think like being right handed or left hand. Yeah sometimes he's just like get a good hold on one side. I do agree with that it was definitely more awkward on that side for me too. Where do you go from there? So you. Brought us up to like babies a few days old. So the pediatrician at that point, she said she told me to keep going on the one side is get her to eat as much as I could on that side, and then she told me to pump the other side in. Just supplement with formula whatever extra that she needed. And then. I want to say I kept trying for at least another week or so, and honestly, between. Like being alone, figuring out a new newborn, trying to breastfeed, trying to go through PA school like I just couldn't do. I felt like I was trying to do everything and I couldn't do it all by myself. So at that point is when I decided to. Start just pumping exclusively because I like still really wanted to try and get the breast milk.
And I had one of my OB GYN's. Actually she was telling me about how one of her friends had pumped exclusively for six months, so I was like alright, this might be easier for me to. Figure everything out with so. I'm I started. I researched a lot about exclusively pumping an they really recommended, like saying on it for a continuous schedule. So I think I. I started doing it like every three hours and I did it for. I want to say like. 15 to 20 minutes total. And my the pump that I have I could do both sides at once, so that was super helpful. After you know the 20 minutes was up and then I would put them in bags and put him in the fridge. I would keep like a supply of. I wanna say 3 bottles. Of like milk ready for her because at that time I was like. We weren't feeding her on his schedule. It was kind of just like Peter. Every three hours, or like if she needed sooner, if either. So I wanted that supply. Available in the fridge and then once I started getting. A routine in place I was in. Of course I was starting to produce more because I was pumping so much and so regularly. Then I was able to start putting it in bags and putting them in the freezer and saving them. For future use. That's a nice feeling when you start to stash. And kalingga like overwhelmed and we actually had to go out and buy a freezer, which is extremely difficult in the middle of a pandemic, because apparently everybody buys the freezer in a pandemic. So right, that was in the Lake, hoarding the toilet paper, hoarding the meat. So we're buying freezers for their meat. I did not even think about that, so we eventually found a freezer because our freezer was full. We had bags of breast milk at my mom's house. My neighbors house my grandpas house like. All the press smoke was everywhere. That's pretty funny when you say we're literally calling people like, hey, can you take a grocery bag of breast milk? Oh my gosh, that's well, that's great that you had takes a village to store all the breast. My original goal even like from before she was born was to try and breastfeed. Or give her breast milk until she was six months old. And so I I found an app that I used in. I would hit the timer when I started pumping. Stop the timer when I stopped pumping and then I would log how much I got out of each side and then I could also log what I put in the freezer and it calculated for me. How much milk I needed in the freezer to make it to my goal of six months? So I I could have kept pumping longer if I wanted to, but I think like. You know, pumping every three hours every day, all day is like. It gets to the point of. Being too like it's the same as breastfeeding. I'm sure like it's time consuming, but so I decided to stop and weaning off was definitely a lot harder than I anticipated and took a lot longer than I anticipated. But I think. Eventually, whenever I finished. I think I finished maybe in like. August early August. I want to say, and I had enough milk. Pretty much. It was a week before her seven month birthday is when we ran out. So that's super exciting for me. Wow, so I guess we could say you're a planner because you have and you had your app an you made sure you. exceeded your goal and that is so cool
It took a lot longer than I anticipated. But I think. Eventually, whenever I finished. I think I finished maybe in like. August early August. I want to say, and I had enough milk. Pretty much. It was a week before her seven month birthday is when we ran out. So that's super exciting for me. Wow, so I guess we could say you're a planner because you have and you had your app an you made sure you. Exceeded your call and that is so cool, it's cool for you to like. Break down the logistics of how it worked out. You were like waking up in the middle of the night. Even if I was in the beginning. And like you know, that's kind of. Problem with breastfeeding is that your spouse can't help. So like I would stay up. And give her her last feeding at whatever it was like midnight. And then I would go to bed and he would get up at 3:00 AM and give her the bottle. But I would still get up at 3:00 AM and Palm but at some point like he made the comment he's like. Why don't you just try and get the sleep 'cause you need sleep in? I started going from like midnight until 7:00 AM. But you better believe by 7:00 AM my boobs hurt so bad it was like a rush to the pump in the morning. No, I understand 'cause you know. Like when you're breastfeeding in the in the middle of the night and then the baby starts skipping a feeding and all of a sudden like you wake up and you look at the Clock and you like what happened. It's been 6 or 7 hours and you like Arlene everywhere and you're really in gorged and he's like I need to feed someone. I need to pump some what? I don't know, I'm curious like. When you were breastfeeding, like did you wear a bra the entire like 100% of the time? Yeah, I think I learned the hard way the first time and then from there on I would always have a nursing tank or nursing bra on and I would always have those like pads inside because I could leak at a moments notice. That is the same for me. I had to wear a bra at all times and honest like. When I eventually stopped pumping and like was able to take the bra from like this is the best feeling in the world. Yes, and you can like wear whatever clothes you know. You don't have to worry about. You know the access or anything and I didn't want to buy. Nursing bras so I made my own, like makeshift ones out of sports bras and I just like cut slits and I ascentia Lee was trying to make it hands free pumping. It worked. It definitely worked. That's great. I seen something it's like a hair tie holding the flanges on. Or did you have any other? I didn't. But I felt like Regina George from Mean Girls. Like if you can imagine that scene which yes, it cut out. That's why I felt like yes, that's a really good really good. No, doing that too at once is obviously are efficient. That always that bothered. We need like the feeling of two at once. I was thought like I wouldn't want to have to nurse in wins like 2 at the same time. But yeah, obviously it's way more efficient. Just do it that way. Yeah, no, I'm really impressed. I love again like that. You did the research and you're like this is the best solution for us and it makes total sense that then you could share the feeding responsibilities because you're right even though you said 100% pumping responsibilities otherwise like you are getting. Food, like you know option. So at least you gave yourself some options. I just kept thinking about everybody having babies. During this time and I was like, this is the worst time in especially at the beginning, like we didn't know anything like we didn't know if aceptable or you know like what the actual risks were. So I mean obviously you were just playing it totally safe, which makes sense. Like now, I think people would be a little more informed like you'd be able to take. Maybe like have you might make a different decision today. Just 'cause we know other sure. And I like like I said she had jaundice when she was born so we were going to the office every day in like every day. I add have anxiety going because like mass weren't something in the beginning. So like we're walking into this office and I'm like panicking that she's. Being exposed to kovid and I'm she's like 2 days old and it is so nerve wracking. But I had to do it, you know, or it's easy to forget what it was like in the very beginning and just how much was unknown and in normal circumstances you hate to take your newborn out to get exposed to germs. And this was like times 1000, so. Is so crazy like I had and I had decided to be induced of. It's new research showing that first time moms healthy. They recommend induction at 39 weeks and I like waited to the last minute to decide. I like didn't want to do it at all if I'm being honest, I probably made the decision more based off of school, which I wish I didn't for that reason. But now, like retrospect, I'm glad I did, 'cause it kovid there is an extremely hard decision. And again, I'm glad 'cause. If I had had my baby like when Kovid was up and ramping really and my husband couldn't have been there, my family could have been there. That would have sucked. Yeah yeah right. There was a time there where I I feel like husbands were dropping wives off. To deliver like I don't know if they were allowed to come in, didn't you have like some kind of? I thought I saw you post something about like they weren't allowing midwives in or do less. Yeah, so like nine months you have this plan. It's going to be your partner and your dual are going to be in there with you. That's how you prepared for your birth. And then all of a sudden last minute. The hospital's like Nope, can't have your support person and for awhile it was like just a really Gray area like hospitals could make their own policy and it was like changing on an hourly if not daily basis. Yeah, so I was trying to help someone get like the most current information. And I just couldn't imagine and and my whole thing was like no guys. OK, we need to prioritize the moms in the babies right now like. Person delivery room. If you know research shows that this is the best way to have a healthy outcome is to have Mom follow her birth plan. However, do leather. So I was pretty mad about that when I was like we can cut our risks in every other sector of the economy. Birth picture planned. Totally agree. Well, your babies super cute. I just I just pulled up my stats from my pumping app. So I pumped. 45.8 gallons. An I spent a. Nine days, 3 hours and 5 minutes pumping total. Oh my gosh. That is so. So much milk, so crazy. That's what what app did you is it's called pump log. Yeah, there's like all these apps like more heard up there's one that like you you put in when the baby woke up and it suggests like when the next nap time should be and things like that. That's a good idea. Pretty cool. Yeah, I. I'm part of the edibility committee, you know, so I just I still find it like incredible that I'm I could do. Produce that much milk you know and and how much like money I was like. We do cloth diapers too. So like now I'm starting to buy formula Now and I'm like Oh my God, we save so much money. I can't believe how fast you go through formula. I know it's it's a big savings that is and it is interesting 'cause. Like you know, women with large breasts like just common sense you would think like, oh, they could produce more milk or they have more milk. Are there be more full and it has like nothing to do with that? It's super crazy. And honestly, it may be TMI, but like when I'm in the shower sometimes like? I just kind of see like is it still there and I can still express something out so I'm like could I start pumping again if I wanted to? I don't know. It's a good question, I think. I remember that happening too. Like you think you're totally done in your not. Yeah, I've read nothing like years after even a little milk, so it's interesting. And then there are like there are drugs you can take to re lactate if you want or like if you adopt A baby. State so I I'm just learning about that. I think that's so cool. But did you? So? Did you experience any hormonal issues when you did wean? Like you said, it took a little bit longer than you thought, but what was that experience like? I don't think hormonal issues. I don't think I had that, but I guess my expectation was. That I would just like cut down on time I was pumping or drop a poem I. I just thought like I would be done in a week I would cut down in a week and like that was not real 'cause like 1. I couldn't wait as long between pumps as I had intended, and so you know, I would just get so painful that I'd have to go pump. So me spacing out time between pumps was more difficult and like. I still had to pump for. I was doing it for 20 minutes but I still had a pump for at least 15 minutes or I'm still in pain and I didn't feel like I would get it all out. So I had to keep researching that and Roxanne. Actually she gave me mint oil peppermint oil. To that you can rub on and I think that definitely helped. It like kicked it into high gear, but it kind of halted at a point where I just had to keep. I had to set it up and. Feel some pain to get longer spacing out, but yeah, but then you are worried about like account doc or or master deal, but it's definitely worried about that. Did you get mastitis at all? I did several times. The first time was with no one. I was like, you know, probably like 5 days to a week postpartum like he was pretty young and all that. Then I have got this like super high fever and I had chills and I was in pain and I was like face timing with the midwife. Showing her my breasts on my iPad. So she could take notice me over the iPad and prescribe his biotics without me having to come in with my like 5 year old baby. And she did. And then the next time I got it, whoever my midwife was. Said, you know if you can just sort of work it out yourself like feed the baby more often, like try to empty all those things like you don't have to take antibiotics. Oh OK, so that I was able to resolve it on my own. But both times is there a way to prevent it or is like? Is there something specific causing it? I think in my case I had like a cracked nipples and so like bacteria probably gotten in, there was a lot of issue and then, but I know it's like if you have a clogged duct that can turn into mastitis because I don't know if bacteria is just like hanging out on one spot. Kind of confused about the mechanics of it. But definitely emptying fully is one way to prevent it, and I wasn't always. It was like, OK, the baby didn't? You know, especially in the middle of the night. It's like no I don't. OK baby is tired I'm tired like we're done. And I didn't always faithfully empty, so I paid the price. Just reminded me of something when I was in the hospital. Right after I had her in the breast, consultant came in to see this. She's that my one bad side that she wasn't latching on. I don't remember what she said it looked like if it is cracked or whatever but she gave me this like special. I had to get it from the pharmacy that they like made special and couldn't bident store anything for me to like put as a nipple cream Jack Newman's all purpose nipple cream. Also, I would say formulate in the. It's literally like hydrocortisone. Some sort of yeast. It's like what you would take for yeast infection and hydrocortisone, and. Bacitracin or something like that? It's like 3 things you could walk into CVS and grab and mix yourself. Or the first? Yes no, that is like the best thing ever. I use that for Thrush. I use that for mastitis use it just to keep it like moist and that crap. Honestly I feel like kinda like free. I don't wanna say freaked out but like when she said I she recommended me. I kind of like I guess felt discouraged or like nervous that. I was gonna get mastitis because like I was already, it was one day and I was already having.****** problems, you know. Yeah, no, an sounds like they didn't offer you a ****** shield. That's one like I had. Use that with Max where it draws the nipple out but but the baby doesn't get quite as much milk like you don't get as good of it, so you keep it on you keep it on but like so I had to use it for a week or. Whatever, and eventually you don't have to anymore 'cause your nipples like learn how to come out themselves and lactation consultants are like. They're like on the fence, 'cause like it makes it not as efficient overfeeding, but like if it's going to prevent you from getting cracked nipples and not being able to feed at all, like it's probably better. So I'm glad they offered it to me. I would be mad in hindsight if they just never even told me that was an option, 'cause I feel like that helps me get through the 1st week with. With like having flat nipples. Do you feel like so? I, I guess I've heard that if you're doing it right, it shouldn't hurt. Would you say that's true? I feel like I haven't talked to anyone who said it didn't matter. So moving like in cultures where. You like grow up with your mom and your aunt. Breastfeeding in front of you an like. They help you, you know like you have like 24 hours support maybe, but I just feel like they're so tender and like you and the baby are both just figuring out the right position. It's just seems like everyone I talked to, at least for some amount of time, was like, yeah, it hurt, even like. Every baby, like each time when you first start it would hurt. Yeah, it's weird. 'cause if you nurse your baby tell their little bit older. Your most recent memory is like you know nursing a 6 month old ornament bold or whatever who has the hanging things. And then when you have your next newborn were like oh we got a surface scratch and like. Everything I learned before. Like no, that's not true. It's a little bit easier, but every baby is different. Like it's yeah, go through some struggles again when they start getting teeth. I remember asking my aunt that be honest. I think I've only been bitten a handful of times. You know, with three kids. So they it's more like they're using their gum or their lips. So unless they're intentionally biting you, their actual work doesn't really involve the teeth. Like their tongue is in the in Germany I think. But it's it's a scary proposition and you know the time that they do. Bite it. Definitely yeah yeah. But then the other thing is their little nails. I mean they can, like, you know, clear yeah. Eleanor loves touching my face right now and. Specially if I don't click those nails, it's brutal. With Lucas, I clipped his nails too short one time like he was teeny tiny and I already hate clipping their nails, 'cause it's so easy to like cut them and I you know I nicked his little finger and it was bleeding and like in hindsight I'm saying this out loud. I nicked his finger in his bleeding. He wasn't going to bleed to death but in my you know mom of a infant. Mine I was like he's gonna bleed to death I like called the pediatrician. I'm like it's been bleeding for 20 minutes. I'm holding a Kleenex on. It's not stopping. I called Andrew to come over because I was so upset. I have four hands so I could like get a little band aid on his finger. I couldn't do it by myself again. He's not going to beat it up, but I was convinced that like he was going to bleed out. From nail Clipper injuries. I get it. We have irrational thoughts. Well, this is really interesting hearing your story, and I do think it's it's great to hear. Like I said, the logistics of exclusive pumping because it is an option like there doesn't have to be all or nothing. Or you know, I feel like some bold people find a solution where it's like half pumping Hafner seen half formula. It's cool just to know that there's options and. Basically, like you set your goal, you found a way to achieve it, and in the middle of a pandemic nonetheless. I honestly I wasn't in school. I'd probably go longer. I think I could definitely go longer, but you can like you don't have to go every three hours. You know that was just my way of getting the biggest supply that I could. As much as I could and you could space it out more pump lesson. It all depends. I think it's different for everybody to get the supply that they need, but like my sister. You know she tried breastfeeding and then. Stopped and now that she saw me and that I did. Pumping all this time. Now she's like oh I didn't really realize that that was an option so I don't think everybody really knows that option. Yeah, right? I mean it's all supply and demand. So if you're demanding the milk one way or the other, your body is going to keep supplying it so alright well. Thank you so much First. I was just gonna say I think future babies that I'd like to try. Breastfeeding again so. I'm glad that you're doing this and I'm excited to hear everybody's stories not from yeah. I'm actually. I'm working on a course to in a similar vein, just like helping people set realistic expectations, communicate the spectrum of. There's like you know all formula on the one end of the spectrum, and then there's like you know, exclusive breastfeeding until they're five on the other end of the spectrum. And then there's like lots and lots of choices in between and just to sort of know that whatever choice ends up being best for your family is going to be is going to be the best for you and like. No judgment, no guilt, 'cause we all, no matter what. Every single person I talk to is like, oh then, I felt guilty that, you know, I had the 2nd baby and I had to stop nurse in the first movie. Or like I felt guilty next to work and I had to supplement as far like everyone is guilty about whatever they choose to do. I definitely agree with that. I don't know where it comes from, but maybe if we could reverse that trend for the next generation of moms, that would be it would be. I had a girl that had a baby. Probably 2 weeks after me and she kind of messaged me about breastfeeding, how she was struggling with it and. From our little group of friends, I learned like. You just gotta tell him you know whatever is best for you and your family. You do it right for you. Whether it's formula whether it's breast milk. No judgement. i really enjoyed my conversation with stacy and i hope you did too i appreciate how she opened up an really walked us through the realities of her journey all the way from not being able to buy a chest freezer when she needed to to making someit's cool for you to like us through the realities of her journey all the way from not being able to buy a chest freezer when she needed to. To making some DIY nursing bras and then to the weaning process and how it took longer than she had expected. I think this was a really helpful look into the logistics of exclusive pumping. And how it might be a good solution depending on your circumstances and your goals. i will post the link to the pump LGG app that Stacie used in our show notes if that's of interest to you and thanks again for tuning in i will talk