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Breast feeding and pumping, my second full time job

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So, let me start off by saying I’ve always been an advocate of breast feeding. During medical school we were taught about all the biological reasons that breast feeding is best for both baby and mother, and I’ve always encouraged my patients to nurse their babies whenever possible. But I don’t really think you can understand or adequately talk to people about the trials and tribulations of being dedicated to breast feeding until you’ve been there-done that. It’s remarkably easy for some women to latch their newborn and the milk just flows for them, while other women have difficulty with latching their baby, or their milk supply is lacking.

That first week of breast feeding gave me profound insight into why so many women give up early on – it is hard, frustrating and at times emotionally draining work! I’ve personally struggled with producing enough for my baby girl and was really stressed when preparing for going back to work when she was 7 weeks old. I tried pumping early on in the process, but it seemed like every time I pumped after feeding her, we would play catch up that whole day (and night sometimes!) because my supply suffered, and it continued on for days afterwards when I continued to try to pump to store extra milk. As physicians we always counsel new moms not to feel inadequate when they struggle with these issues, but there I was, right in the middle of it, and feeling very inadequate that I couldn’t pump and store enough milk for my baby to feel secure going back to work.

And of course, stress doesn’t help the milk production situation much…

I’ve been back to work for 6 months now, and my goal is to nurse my daughter through a year old at the very least.  I am very fortunate that I have supportive family that helps take care of my angel while I am at work, and I can see her every day at lunch (and nurse her too! Score! Less pumping!). It’s also a blessing that I have control over my schedule and can block out visit times to pump in my office for 20 minutes in the morning and afternoon, but there have still been so many weeks where my supply has dwindled and I am left panicked about her having enough milk for the next week. I even pump on my way to work (with a hands free bra of course, strapped in and covered before I start the car) to get an extra ounce or two for her.

There were nights early on where I set my alarm for 3 am to get an extra ounce or two pumped for her as well, knowing milk production is highest around 2 am. I have read every medical article and blog I could find (while up in the middle of the night nursing her a lot of the time) and tried all sorts of non-medical ways to boost my supply – mothers milk tea, fenugreek supplements, oatmeal and then some more oatmeal, adding flax seed to all my food, drinking 3-4 liters of water a day, even drinking some dark beer, none of which really made a big difference in my supply.

So, as I sit here writing this, pumping away, I laugh at the things I have gone through to give my baby girl breast milk, and realize I may sound crazy to some of you! I think, before I had Juliette, I might have thought a patient was going overboard if they told me what I just told you… Clearly now I have a different take on things.

I guess the moral of my story is, do what is best for you and your baby, and try not to stress (easier said than done)!!! Enjoy the ride!


About Amanda Magrini

Amanda Magrini
Amanda Magrini, MD, is a board-certified family medicine physician at Northern Nevada Medical Group’s Los Altos location in Sparks. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Nevada, Reno and her medical training at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. Dr. Magrini has practiced family medicine for seven years, including residency, and enjoys her specialty, because she likes taking care of the whole family, from newborns to grandparents. She likes preventative medicine, helping people take care of themselves and the relationships she is able to form with her patients. Dr. Magrini grew up in Sparks, NV and likes that it is a safe place to live with great educational opportunities and beautiful scenery. She thinks Northern Nevada is a great place to raise a family and looks forward to raising her own children here. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, camping, boating, running and traveling the world. Dr. Magrini is also very close with her family; she is married to her high school sweetheart and values spending time with him and the rest of her family. Disclosure: "The author is a licensed physician practicing with Northern Nevada Medical Group, but all opinions expressed are solely the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Northern Nevada Medical Group or any other affiliates of Universal Health Services, Inc."


  1. Oh my goodness, I couldn’t have written your exact post and it was stressful the first 4 months by far the hardest, and then for some reason at 9 months I just started producing enough, what a blessing because I’m an accountant and I had just gone into high drive and was working like 60 hour weeks, My MIL is a breast feeding Nazi, and I wanted to breast feed so bad that her drive and desire to make it happen was super helpful. she babysat my daughter and at the time she was the only one she baby sat so she brought her to me for lunch and I breast feed. She would give her only the amount I told her and would work with her till I got home. I’m so grateful I did it but it was HAAARRDD!!! Probably the one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I did supplements I drank lots of water I pumped for 17 minutes after every feeding, as a mom and doctor who really desires it and knows a lot I’m sure you have too. So that being said I have no advice I can just say I’m emphatic, and I pray it gets easier for you because I’ve been in your shoes before. Also just an FYI, just because you have a hard time with this one it might not be the same with kid number two. For some reason with kid number two it was just easy and he refused the bottle anyways and just waited for me to get home so now I had the opposite problem milk coming out of my ears and I had no clue what to do with it. Anyhow good luck.

    • Amanda

      Thank you for that! Now that she is 8 months it is getting a little easier as she takes more solids, but it’s good to hear that it varies from child to child- I’ve seen this happen in my patients as well!

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