Spectra S1: The Pump That Saved My Sanity

I’ve never heard of the Spectra brand until an old high school friend mentioned it. The brand is popular in Asia and Australia, and recently expanded to the North American market with Spectra Baby USA.

I was renting the Medela Symphony pump for $75/month, when I looked into the Spectra pumps. I was content with renting a pump, but when I discovered the hospital-grade S1 pump priced reasonably ($319USD), it made more sense for me to buy. There are a few features that are better on the Medela Symphony, but overall, the Spectra S1 pros outweigh the cons, and I am so happy with my decision.

Pros:

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Comes with a rechargeable battery
  • Has a timer
  • Has a nightlight
  • Can adjust speed and vacuum strength separately

Cons:

  • Louder than the Symphony
  • Collection kit seems to be of lower quality and is clunkier than the Medela one (looks cheap and and doesn’t stand on its own well)
  • Flange valves are difficult to remove
  • Collection bottles are wide-neck (I have a lot of standard neck bottles) and nipples aren’t slow flow
  • Doesn’t automatically switch from Stimulation to Expression mode

So how has the S1 saved my sanity? Instead of spending almost 2 hours of my day “chained” to one spot, I’m able to carry the pump to walk around (with my makeshift hands-free pumping bra aka bandeau with cutouts) and do other things. Plus, the built-in timer means there’s no need to watch the clock anymore. And the best part…my output increased! I’m not sure if it’s because I’m less stressed or if this pump is actually more efficient; regardless, I no longer dread my pumping sessions.

Edit: After a few weeks, I modified my setup so I was able to use the Spectra pump with Medela parts. The Medela collection bottles were just better for me. To do this, I cut the end (part that connects to the pump) of the Medela tubes and attached that directly to the Spectra pump. Note: This does change the system from being a closed one to open (like Medela), since there won’t be a barrier between the milk collection kit and the pump, so you would need to make sure that no moisture gets into the tubing.

Someone’s Three Months Old Today!

I’ve heard many times to “enjoy these days, because the baby grows so fast.” And I can see that it’s so true. Jarvis is no longer a newborn. He’s now a little person I can interact with. The past three months have been so enjoyable.

Here are a few updates:

  • Weight: ~14lbs 3oz
  • Length: 63cm (25in)
  • Daytime sleep: Three 1-2 hour naps a day
  • Nighttime sleep: 2-3 hours at a time
  • Feeds: Breastfed and bottle-fed (expressed breast milk and formula — still about about 24-25oz/day)
  • Personality: He loves to smile and laugh. He gets cranky when he’s hungry, tired or needs to burp. He also “converses” a lot. We have a lot conversations that involve him responding to me with coos and grunts. It’s quite entertaining.
  • Milestones: Giggles, holds head up, rolled over from tummy to back (it only happened once so he might have just been lucky that time), drooling (teething??)
  • Likes: Daddy’s rapping (watch here), mommy’s singing (The Wheels on the Bus), TV, the car seat mirror, the baby carrier, the crib mobile
  • Dislikes: Tummy time and the swing (he much prefers to be propped up on the couch than to sit in the swing)

Here are my updates:

  • Recovery: Sometimes I still feel a heavy pelvic pressure like my uterus is falling! I think it’s just weak pelvic floor muscles. Other than that, my recovery has been good and uneventful.
  • Exercise: Lots of walks and the Babywearing Workout
  • Diet: I purchased a bunch of Supperworks meals almost 2 months ago, and that provided some healthy and easy meals for a few weeks. Since then, however, my somewhat healthy diet has deteriorated. Now, it’s just all about quick, easy and tasty food, which means takeout, pasta, milk and cookies, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, etc.
  • Sleep: For the most part, I get two-hour blocks of sleep between 12AM-8AM.
  • Mood: Happy. I do have my moments when I feel exhausted and overwhelmed, but this past month has been really fun. Every time baby giggles or smiles (which is pretty often), my heart melts. Many times, I’m doing a middle-of-the-night diaper change; I’m tired and just want to get it over with and get back to bed. I put the baby down on the change table and he looks up at me with his big gummy smile. I love it. My heart skips a beat every time.

Happy 3 months, Jarvis!

Babywearing

I’ve been “wearing the baby” for over a month now, and it has definitely made my days easier.

I use it at least 2-3 hours a day, depending on what I need to do and the baby’s mood. And most of the time, baby is so comfortable in it, he falls asleep pretty easily.

I have the Beco Gemini soft carrier, and with the baby content and my hands free, I’ve been able to do things like:

  • Wash the dishes
  • Put on makeup
  • Grocery shop without a carseat/stroller
  • Browse the internet
  • Clean/prep bottles
  • Exercise

I even figured out how to nurse in the carrier! It’s brilliant and so convenient.

Babywearing is not only great for mommy (or daddy), but studies have shown that babies are happier and healthier (get in tune with their carrier’s breathing, heartbeat and movements) and cry less. It’s also perfect for bonding. Here’s my husband enjoying the carrier during one of our walks:

My Breastfeeding Experience – Part 2

The saga continues…

I saw another lactation consultant shortly after my last entry about breastfeeding. She assessed everything and admitted that she can’t do anything for me; the baby’s latch was good, his suck was strong and my supply wasn’t a concern. The baby was just lazy. Jarvis would breastfeed for a few minutes and either let go or fall asleep. He got used to bottles and likely preferred the faster flow and little effort required. Her recommendation: keep trying and maybe he’ll just stick with it one day.

The following week, the paediatrician said the same thing. Keep at it and maybe he’ll get it.

I was really hoping for a more concrete answer from either of them. Was that all I could do? Just sit and wait? With all the information I gathered, I decided to try a few more things over the following weeks:

  • Nipple shield: I thought that since baby preferred an artificial nipple, maybe he’d like the nipple shield. Nope. Same result. He unlatched after a few minutes.
  • Tube-feeding: I thought this would trick him into thinking that he could get a faster flow, so I successfully tube-fed for a few days and then tried breastfeeding without the tube. Same result.
  • Syringe feeding: Same result as tube feeding.
  • Breastfeeding only when he was really hungry: I thought if he was extremely hungry, he’d put in the effort to feed himself. This didn’t work. It’s difficult enough to keep a calm baby on my breast, let alone a screaming, teary-eyed baby.
  • Switch feeding: I thought by alternating back and forth between breasts every few minutes, this would keep the baby awake and alert. Unfortunately, the little guy hates my right breast for some reason. He just won’t take it.
  • Take Fenugreek and Mother’s Milk tea: Some say these help increase milk production. I haven’t noticed an affect on mine.

All the while, I was pumping in an effort to increase my milk supply or at the very least, keep it stable.

Frustrated that nothing was helping, I decided to breastfeed only during the day — forget night-time breastfeeding. Sleep was too important. It continued like this with no progress, until one feeding session last week. He stayed on my breast for 20 full minutes! And they weren’t little insignificant sucks; they were real sucks with pauses and swallowing. I was so proud of my little baby. I put him down to sleep when he was done, assuming he was full. Sadly, he wasn’t satisfied. I tried to put him back on my breast and he just wouldn’t take it. Feeling dejected, I, yet again, mixed some formula in a bottle and fed my hungry baby. I did make progress, but very little.

It’s been a rollercoaster since then. Sometimes he would stay on my breast for more than 5 minutes and actually get milk, and other times he would just give up. And at times, it’d be worse than just ‘give up’; he’d let go wailing and screaming, turning red, like he was regressing. I’m running out of ideas. I’m starting to feel defeated and find myself feeling jealous when someone in my mommies group would nonchalantly pull out a breast and feed her baby. I’m jealous that their baby is always getting the best nutrition. I’m jealous that they don’t have to lug around bottles, formula, expressed breastmilk and a pump. I’m jealous that their days aren’t consumed by washing bottles and pumping sessions. I absolutely hate the feeling.

I have one last idea: start taking Domperidone, a prescription drug that is known to increase milk production. I’m hoping this will actually work, and baby will appreciate an increased flow. If not, I’d at least be able to pump enough to exclusively feed expressed milk rather than formula.

Here’s to my Hail Mary pass.

Baby is 1 Month Today

Happy 1 month, baby Jarvis!

This month went by fast, and the baby has grown quite a bit already. Here are a few updates:

  • Weight: 10lbs 5oz
  • Length: 55cm
  • Daytime sleep: 2-3 hours at a time
  • Nighttime sleep: 3-4 hours at a time
  • Feeds: Breastfed and bottle-fed (expressed breast milk and formula — about 24-25oz/day)
  • Personality: Can’t tell yet. I can say he’s a good baby so far. He only cries when hungry or when his diaper is really messy.
  • Likes: Graco swing, daddy’s singing, Michelle’s voice, car rides

As for me, here are my updates:

  • Recovery: I feel almost 100% recovered from delivery.
  • Exercise: None. I’m just waiting for my 6-week postpartum checkup to get the go-ahead to start again. I could go for walks but the weather just hasn’t been cooperating.
  • Diet: Almost no change since pregnancy. I’m occasionally drinking coffee again, and I’ve added Fenugreek and Milkmaid tea to my daily diet (for milk production). Also, when I remember, I’ll take my prenatal vitamins.
  • Sleep: I’m still figuring out my sleep schedule. I should sleep when baby sleeps, but that hasn’t come naturally.
  • Mood: Tired but happy. Most of the time, I just want to cuddle and sleep with the little guy. I’m enjoying every minute with him.