Exclusively pumping sucks…LITERALLY! It is the not so talked about side of breastfeeding, but I did it and would do it again if I needed too! My daughter was born in April of 2014 with heart conditions causing her not to be able to nurse. Breastfeeding had been my plan from the beginning of my pregnancy and I quickly had to wrap my mind around that I would still be breastfeeding, but just in a different way. The pump became my best friend and my worst enemy!
I had never heard of exclusively pumping before having Ellie, but quickly found a support group on Facebook that helped with all the questions I had. I found out that some women choose to exclusively pump and others, like me, do it because for whatever medical reason their baby cannot nurse. Others pump after their baby has passed away to donate in their memory.
I heard multiple things while pumping including, but not limited to the following. “Pumping is not breastfeeding.” “When are you going to actually going to start breastfeeding?” “Oh you are still pumping?” I was baffled by the comments and held my tongue quite well most of the time. I can say with the utmost confidence that pumping is breastfeeding; your delivery method is just a little different from a nursing mom!
My journey with pumping was a successful one. I had an oversupply and was able to donate probably thousands of ounces of breast milk to other moms in need. I gave up counting how much I pumped and how much I donated because it was too much work! I do know my record for ounces pumped in one session was 30. Even though I had success with production, some women do not have that luck and only produce enough milk for one or two bottles a day and either use donated breast milk or formula to supplement.
I did have the days that I absolutely hated pumping and wanted to just throw it all away. Then there were days that it was so routine that I didn’t even think of doing anything different. I was ecstatic when my daughter turned one and I packed the pump away! No more rearranging my schedule to pump or having to fortify it with formula to give my picky eater enough calories, but like I said earlier, I would do it all again.
Whatever the reason that leads to your decision to exclusively pump, it can be done and there are a few things you will need!
Must haves (In my opinion):
*A good double breast pump (I loved my Medela)
*A hands free pumping bra (Total lifesaver, so you can multitask!)
*A nursing cover (For the times you might need to pump in public, I was not comfortable having everything in the wide open)
*A manual breast pump (For the times the power goes out or in the car while traveling)
* Coconut oil or lanolin cream (Trust me, it is needed!)
*A schedule to follow (Starting out, you need to pump every 2-3 hours for at least 15 minutes to establish supply)
*A nice reusable water bottle (Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate)
* Snacks (Trust me, you will be hungry!)
*A comfy place to pump (I hated being stuck in an uncomfortable chair to pump, after all you sit there for a while)
*A support system (There will be days that you want to quit or don’t know what to do, lean on your support)
No matter what decision you make on feeding your little one, you are a great mom!
Feature Image Courtesy: Jen Schmoyer Howell