A pumping mama’s job never ends, in sickness or in health

Both Kaia and I have had fevers the last two days. I took yesterday and today off from work. I could barely focus, especially with my entire head and face hurting. Even listening to my daily Up First NPR news podcast was challenging. My entire body was aching and feeling heavy. I constantly felt hot, and pumping this morning was causing me to sweat what felt like buckets. When I took the flanges off my breasts after this morning’s pump, the edges were dripping with my own sweat. I was hoping that my sweat didn’t drip into the bottles to taint and dilute my baby’s milk.

When you get sick, everyone tells you to stop what you are doing and to just rest. That becomes harder when you have a baby to take care of. But it’s even harder when you have a baby to take care of, AND you exclusively pump. Granted, our nanny has been here during the day to care for the baby, but no matter what, my pumping job has to continue. If I do pump, I feel exhausted and sweaty, plus it takes away time for me to lie down and actually rest. If I were to stop pumping, not only would that be detrimental to my supply, but I would likely get engorged and experience clogged milk ducts once again. So I can’t stop pumping.

And what I feared would happen has happened. I had read about when pumping moms get sick that their supply starts to drop. On Monday and yesterday, my supply was pretty normal, but today, I lost almost 90ml of breast milk supply when comparing to my last 7-day average. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but to me, that was a LOT. I was still pumping as many times as I normally do, and for the same duration of time. I was probably drinking more fluids than usual since my throat hurt so badly and I was super dry. I think I was eating similarly, but wasn’t 100 percent sure. I’m hoping this drop is temporary, as it seems to be temporary from what I’ve read of most sick pumping moms’ experiences, but you never know until it happens to you. I’m trying not to get too anxious about it since stress also has negative effects on milk supply, but how can I not be concerned when breast milk is how I primarily nourish my baby? Kaia’s been eating less since she also has been under the weather, so it hasn’t impacted her percentages of breast milk vs. formula yet, but I’m still worried.

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