When I was pregnant with my son, I did a MASSIVE amount of research. I wanted to know anything and everything about how to take care of him. I found so many resources online about breastfeeding, but the one thing I didn’t hear about was exclusive pumping.
I saw the phrase a few times, but I didn’t know what it was nor did I really care to learn. I was going to breastfeed my baby the “normal” way.
Fast forward a bit and the big day arrived! I had my beautiful little boy and I wanted nothing more than to share that bond with him. That mother-baby bond that I was told only happens during breastfeeding.
My guy, unfortunately, had other plans. He didn’t want anything to do with my boobs – not one bit.
“He didn’t want anything to do with my boobs – not one bit.”
I had begun (thankfully) to at least attempt to use my breast pump in the hospital. The nurses there weren’t overly helpful with the set up though. I got more push to feed my son formula rather than to figure out my breast pump.
Instead of being able to provide him with breast milk, the very first thing my son ever ate was formula.
By the time I went home, my nipples were raw, my son was hungry, I was exhausted, and I was really questioning what I had gotten myself in to.
We fought tirelessly for the next SEVEN weeks. He didn’t want to nurse, or at least not correctly or effectively, and I had no idea what I was doing to help him. My research didn’t cover this.
We tried everything, and I mean absolutely everything to get my son to nurse properly, but he just either wouldn’t or couldn’t. I think most of it had to do with the fact that he was just lazy.
Drinking from a bottle is so much easier than drinking from the breast. He definitely didn’t want to have to work for it.
So I went back to my research and finally started to stumble across information about exclusive pumping. It seemed like the answer I was looking for.
So after many, many tear-filled days (from both my son and myself), I finally made the switch to pumping exclusively.
“Exclusively pumping…seemed like the answer I was looking for.”
For anyone that doesn’t know, exclusive pumping is just that. It is breastfeeding by pumping and bottle feeding the milk rather than directly nursing. Sounds like fun, right?
I’m not going to lie, pumping sucks in so many ways.
I hate having to wake up early so that I can pump before my son wakes up. I also hate having to stay up late so that I can pump after he’s asleep. During the day, pumping sessions are even more interesting since he’s up and active, especially now that he’s fully mobile and working on walking.
And don’t even get me started on washing bottles. So many freaking bottles!
Though exclusive pumping is a royal pain in my behind, and I’ve spent WAY too much time hanging out with my breast pump (her name is Barb), pumping has allowed me to do something that I really didn’t think I would be able to do. It has allowed me to breastfeed my son.
“Pumping has allowed me to do something that I really didn’t think I would be able to do.”
No, he isn’t actually sitting at my breast, and yes I have to worry about storing the milk and cleaning the bottles, but it is still breastfeeding. It just looks a little different.
Going through this journey with him has taught me so much more about what it really means to be a mom. I thought I knew what it meant. I thought I knew what would be expected of me and what I would be willing to do to provide for him. This process though has shown me that I knew absolutely nothing.
If you had asked me when I was pregnant how long I was planning on breastfeeding, I would have told you that I really wanted to try to make it to six months. I didn’t have much faith in myself on that though, but I was going to try.
If you had asked me how long I would have been willing to exclusively pump, I probably would have said three months max.
Here I am though, pumping as I write this post, 11 and a half months postpartum. I never would have believed it possible.
Though I have made it this far, there are so many things that I wish I would have known in those first few days. It makes me wonder how differently our breastfeeding journey could have been.
Perhaps I would have been able to have a larger supply. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten those two, count them TWO rounds of mastitis that nearly destroyed what little supply I did have. Perhaps I would have even been able to save some money and not have had to supplement with formula along the way.
Who knows? I suppose the important thing is that I was (and still am) able to provide my son with breast milk, which was my goal all along.
“I suppose the important thing is that I was (and still am) able to provide my son with breast milk, which was my goal all along.”
And that bond that people talk about? I still got it. I’m my son’s favorite person, for the moment anyway, and that’s good enough for me.
So if you’re a pumper, part-time or full-time, know that you aren’t alone. We’re out there, somewhere, doing what we feel is best for our families. And no matter what anyone tries to tell you, pumping is breastfeeding. So, pump on mama!
“Mama on Parade”
I’m a mama that loves wine, coffee, and baby snuggles trying to make it through this crazy adventure called motherhood. I started Mama on Parade in order to help other new moms navigate their own motherhood adventure. Being a mom is hard and there is too much mom-shaming and mom-guilt out there. So if I can help just one woman make her journey easier, then I will call my blog a success.
One thought on “Breastfeeding: One Size Doesn’t Fit All [Guest Post]”
Congratulations! You’re a champ. It’s sad that when society switched from most moms breastfeeding to formula being marketed, we lost all this common knowledge about all the different ways we could feed our babies and common knowledge about nursing or expressing milk. I had no clue what human milk even looked like, had never heard of colostrum and never heard of cluster feeding until I actually had a newborn. Crazy. Thanks for posting. Articles like yours are the main way moms share info now. And…bc I had that cluster feeder I ended up pumping enough milk to donate to a milk bank. 250 oz donated. I see all the pumping pods at airports now and am happy for moms who have it a little better now than I did just 7 years ago. Keep on.