I’ve received requests for various topics in the postpartum realm, and a popular one has been breastfeeding with a busy active lifestyle that includes working full-time, running and consulting on several businesses and trying to fit in CrossFit training for myself. At 7 weeks, I am definitely not an expert, but I wanted to update you with what I’m currently doing and scheming to do to make it work. My goal is to breastfeed Kaitlan by boob or bottle for as long as she’ll take it.
A few disclaimers:
- I’m by no means militant, and neither Neil or I are opposed to supplementing with formula to meet her needs. Deal with it.
- Breastfeeding is complicated and varies largely from individual to individual. What works for one person will not work for all and none of what I say should stand above an actual expert, like your doctor or lactation consultant.
- Per above, I’m not an expert in breastfeeding or CrossFit/fitness. I train an average of 3-4 times a week for 1-2 hours and coach an average of 1-2 classes a week.
It was my goal during pregnancy to return to CrossFit in postpartum as soon as I was able. CrossFit is hugely therapeutic to me, and it’s what I love. But above that was my desire to breastfeed Kaitlan for the first year if possible. It’s common knowledge that breastfeeding burns calories, and as does any exercise, complicating an already complicated endeavor (breastfeeding). Additionally, I work full-time, meaning that once I returned to work, the majority of Kaitlan’s milk would be pumped and given to her by her daycare providers. Many people I know have expressed in frustration that pumps just don’t get the job done as well as the breast does.
With all this in mind, I did what I could to prepare:
- I acquired a pump through the ACA and Aeroflow. It is the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Starter Set. I also read that different-sized flanges often help, so I procured extra.
- I read several books, including The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, The Nursing Mother’s Companion, and Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding
- I procured supplements, including oatmeal, Brewer’s Yeast, Mother’s Milk tea and beer (yay!) — all in addition to my normal supplements.
- I found out where I could pump at work, fortunately in a room I share with another coworker.
During maternity leave (6 weeks)
It was one of the leading items in my birth plan that Kaitlan and I be together skin-to-skin for the first hour following birth to establish our breastfeeding relationship. This relationship and bonding early was HUGE. It not only ensured that we could establish latch with the help of a consultant to troubleshoot, but made sure she got colostrum, AKA “liquid gold.”
I breastfed on demand throughout my entire leave. I didn’t attempt to put her on a schedule, or adhere to the advice of “every 2-3 hours.” That was simply a “do not exceed” rule for me. If she wanted, I gave freely, and often ended up clusterfeeding and dreamfeeding in the earlier weeks.
My milk started coming in on day 3, and I started pumping immediately after feedings on day 4, bagging and freezing my first 5 ounces by day 6. I’ve continued pumping after most feedings from then on, averaging 5-7 minutes on each side. As my supply increased, I was able to pump more, and if we missed any feedings, I pumped as if I was feeding her. Over 6 weeks, I froze close to 15 bags of milk.
Returning to work (7 weeks)
Pumping at work, home, and around CrossFit hasn’t been as difficult as I imagined, albeit somewhat tedious. My current direct breastfeeding/pumping schedule looks like this:
Between 2:00 am-3:00 am: Kaitlan feeds
5:30-6:00 am: Kaitlan feeds
6:45 am: Top Kaitlan off and pump before leaving for work (typically between 4-5 oz)
9:30 am: Pump (3-4 oz)
11:00 or 11:30 am: Pump (3-4 oz)
2:00-2:30 pm: Pump (3-4 oz)
4:00 pm: Pump (2-3 oz)
5:00 pm: Kaitlan feeds (this might become a bottle feeding)
6:00 pm or 7:00 pm: CrossFit — usually try to pump beforehand
8:00 pm Kaitlan feeds
10:00-10:30 pm Kaitlan feeds, then bed
As I mentioned, we haven’t put her on a schedule, but she’s definitely falling into a predictable pattern. Obviously, we see spikes and variation during spurts.
A few things of note/emphasis:
- I prioritize pumping in the morning (even on weekends) when my supply is best and immediately prior to CrossFit to feel “empty.”
- I pump missed feedings and after feeding her if I think that she didn’t feed significantly. If I don’t pump, I feed her on-demand and a little more often. I’ve also done some dream feeding.
- I drink and eat a ridiculous amount. I try to keep it as healthy as possible, but the volume is impressive and I do what I have to to keep her fed. Food-wise, I take in anywhere from 2,300-2,500 calories a day, which is a lot when you consider it’s mostly Paleo. Fluid-wise, I typically do 120-130 oz of water in the morning, again in the afternoon, and in the evening after CrossFit. I also typically drink throughout my workouts.
- I don’t take weekends off, and use them to get ahead or give myself a break later by building my stash.
I’m not where I want to be on supply, but in just the one week I’ve been back at work, my supply has increased noticeably. I picked up a manual pump for times when I don’t have access to my electric and I’m going to make a point to eat oatmeal for breakfast and a late night snack this week to see if I can get to three bottles per day solidly. On the plus, Kaitlan seems to be thriving and is just over 9 pounds now.
We started her on a little formula supplementation over the weekend, and so far it’s going really well. I wanted to do this because while my supply is going up, it’s constantly on that line of being just enough. Having formula would be perfect for crunch times like topping her off in the morning or her daycare provider being able to keep her happy between 4-5:00 when we’re coming to get her. It would also be highly useful in emergencies like inclement weather when she might be at either my parents or daycare.
Is it obvious now that I tend to overthink everything? Have any supply-boosting tips for me?
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