Since pumping is an enormous part of my life, I figured I would do a post on it. In the baby feeding community, there are 2 kinds of mothers. Those who breastfeed their babies and those that formula feed their babies. Prior to having my own child, I was vehemently against the idea of giving my baby formula. Breast milk isn’t only the best milk but it’s free. There’s no bottle prep. It’s just…there. It’s the easiest option, right?
Breastfeeding is the the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. 9 months of pregnancy and having a natural childbirth was waaaaay easier. I could point my finger at many factors as to why breastfeeding was so difficult for me.
-Lack of knowledge.
-Very little assistance at getting Elle to the breast the hours and days after birth.
-Elle being born 3 weeks early.
-My huge boob + Elle’s small mouth = difficulty.
-Ineffective guidance from a lactation consultant.
And it wasn’t like I didn’t try. My child had a poor latch. She made plenty of efforts to breastfeed but they didn’t result in her getting enough milk to be satiated. When she did latch, she would not only chew my breast into bits but she would erupt in tears every time. Which only devastated me. Talk about feeling inadequate. Here I am, a new mother, and I can’t even effectively give my child food. And lack of milk wasn’t an option because I was flowin’…
So I decided to enter the Secret World of EP’ing. I call it a secret because you don’t hear many women talking about it. It is perhaps the most difficult track to take when it comes to feeding newborns and infants. With breastfeeding, you just whip out a boob and feed baby. With formula feeding, you (or someone else – BONUS!) prepare a bottle and give it to baby. With exclusively pumping, I have to juggle between not only pumping to get milk but then I also have to find time to feed the baby. It’s a juggling act, really and it was the #1 reason that made the first weeks of motherhood difficult.
In order to keep my supply up, I have to pump to Elle’s schedule. That means I need to pump around the time that she would be eating or more. BUT – since I am back to work, I’d like for her to continue to receive breast milk while at daycare. And so I not only pump enough for her to eat, but I pump enough to freeze. Breast milk stored in a deep freezer has a shelf life of 6-12 months so that means even after I return to work and Elle goes to daycare, she will continue to get breast milk.
I produce quite a bit of milk so what can’t fit in my freezers is donated to other mommies. That’s right! Thanks to the great community of Human Milk 4 Human Babies, I was able to find 3 mommies who were looking for a donor. These moms have adopted newborns or foster babies that had issues with formula but are thriving off of my breast milk. Some find it to be gross and unsanitary. I think not. In fact, Elle’s first few days of milk came from another mommy who had donated her breast milk to my birthing center.
So let’s rewind…
PRO’S of pumping
-I get to feed my baby breastmilk. I’m very grateful for the electric pump technology.
-I can SEE how much she’s getting and deliver that info to my pediatrician.
-Someone else can feed her which is awesome. Mama needs a break too, yo.
-Unlike formula, a bottle of breast milk can be left out for hours. HUGE pro.
-I can donate to other babies.
-I burn an insane amount of calories and pumping has lead to me being smaller than my pre-preggo weight.
CON’S of pumping
-The judgement I get from exclusive breastfeeders (Why don’t you try harder to make her latch?) and formula feeders (Why don’t you give her a formula bottle?).
-Very little sleep. I have to pump every 3-4 hours and haven’t slept a straight 3-4 hours since Elle has been born.
-It makes social outings difficult. If I will be out for more than 4 hours, my breasts become engorged and painful. I also risk a chance to getting clogged milk ducts which can turn into mastitis which I hear sucksssss. So yeah. My boobs are always on a ticking clock.
-Never-ending bottle washing.
-Pumping can be very lonely. You’re up by yourself in the middle of the night or have to excuse yourself to pump.
Why don’t I just give her formula? It’s simple. I don’t want to. I want her to have breast milk so while pumping is extremely difficult, I plan to only do it for a year. And I’m hoping I can make it to a year because I think about quitting every single day. But hey, everything happens for a reason and while I go through moments of being sad that I couldn’t breastfeed Elle, I am grateful for my abundant supply of milk. I’ve pumped over 31 gallons of breast milk that has nourished 4 children. It feels kinda awesome.
Feel free to drop questions in the comments. And lots of love to my fellow EP’in’ gals for motivating me to write this post!