Before I had my first baby, I read several baby books and talked to some of my friends about breastfeeding. I felt completely prepared. But just like when I was in college and reading about a career, it’s completely different when you read an example in a book versus applying it to real life.
The first surprise came when my baby was three weeks early. She was still considered full-term, but she was barely 37 weeks and a small six pounds. Side note to expecting moms: have your hospital bag packed early! When we were in the hospital, the nurses had me try and nurse my baby and showed me several techniques. Nursing was not going smoothly for me at all. I was frustrated because everything that I had read, this was supposed to be an easy process and none of my friends ever touched on breastfeeding issues.
My nurse wheeled in a breast pump and I remember thinking this was odd because I thought I was supposed to start pumping once I had returned home. Another side note: if you are in the process of registering for a baby shower and a breast pump is on your list, you may want to check with your hospital first and see if they offer one to rent. My hospital did and I did not know this was an option. It was hospital-grade so stronger than the one I had registered for and they gave me all the attachments I needed to start pumping.
The nurses fed my baby some formula since she had lost a lot of weight and started light-therapy for her jaundice. Meanwhile, they showed me how to use the breast pump and I immediately started seeing results. I found pumping to be extremely easy and I could see how much milk I was producing.
Once I was discharged from the hospital, I checked the breast pump out and came home. Our daughter saw a nurse for some light therapy to clear up her jaundice. I tried breastfeeding several more times, but soon became frustrated again and my baby was frustrated as well. That’s when I started searching the Internet on exclusively pumping, which led me to a book called “Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk: A Guide to Providing Expressed Breast Milk for Your Baby” by Stephanie Casemore. I bought the book on Amazon and started reading it. I realized this was for me!
I understand exclusively pumping is not for everyone, but if you are ready to give up on breastfeeding all together, know breast milk has been proven time and time to be the best for babies. Exclusively pumping is a way to provide breast milk in a different process than breastfeeding. It’s hard work because if you think about it, it combines bottle feeding and breastfeeding together. But for me, the pros outweighed the cons. Pros in my mind are: you can see how much milk you are producing, you have a process of how long to pump and there is a schedule of when to pump.
The challenges with exclusively pumping are you are tied to your pump a lot and it does take extra effort with lots of washing out equipment and touting your pump around. I had found if you buy an extra set of the accessories, you are washing less and the carrying case the pump came in, seemed to be easy to transport. Plus, I bought a few hands-free breast pump bras which allowed me to multi-task while pumping.
I have three children now and have exclusively pumped for all of them. Two of my children are super close in age, 17 months. Pumping is great when you have a toddler and a newborn. My toddler would go get books and I would read to her while I was pumping for the newborn. It provided great bonding time for me and it gave her some attention as well. Plus, exclusively pumping provides a way for a spouse or significant other to feed the baby as well. This is especially helpful when you need that hour of sleep!
I have since gone back to work, but was not working when my children were younger so I can’t speak in terms of working and pumping myself. However, I did have several friends ask me about exclusively pumping that did work full-time after a maternity leave. They found it helpful to pump a few extra times at work to get their supply up and then return home to breastfeed.
If you are weighing your options on whether to breastfeed or maybe you are ready to throw in the towel with frustration, know there are options for you. Maybe exclusively pumping will be the answer for you.