Swallowing the Pumping Pill

When I had my first baby I looked at pumping as a miracle that would allow me to work and simultaneously care for my baby. I thoroughly researched and bought what I believed was one of the best pumps on the market, a Medela Freestyle. I even purchased the pump bra so that I could pump hands free and work or type.Simple-Wishes-Hands-Free-Breastpump-Bra-2

My first experience with pumping was in the hospital. H was premature and so I had to pump since he was in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Pumping became my job. I pumped every few hours to get as much colostrum as I possibly could. I would then proudly take it down to the NICU for his feedings. Every drop seemed like gold.

When we got home from the hospital I had to pump and give the breastmilk to H in a bottle. This would allow us to monitor exactly how much he was receiving. It was exhausting. I would let him practice nurse a little while, feed him his bottle and then pump. By the time I finished pumping I had about 15 minutes before he needed to eat again. It was a labor of love, and I powered through it.

Then I went back to work… Pumping at work is not easy. With H my supply dipped dramatically when I started pumping. I had to pump at least 20-30 minutes just to get the minimum amount of milk he needed while he was at school. It was a constant challenge and I started to feel anxious every time I pumped because I knew the average I needed to achieve in order to meet his feeding needs. Despite this we used breast milk exclusively until 8 months. At that time he started weaning and my supply really dropped, but he continued to nurse with supplemental formula until 10 months.

With Baby C2 I nursed from the moment he was born. In fact I didn’t even break my pump out more than a handful of time during my maternity leave. It was easy, natural and he ate on his schedule or when he needed to eat. I dreaded having to drag the pump out when I went back to work. Having to decline meetings or ask them to be rearranged because it doesn’t fit into your pump schedule is a little humiliating. Not to mention, you constantly feel like you are being judged. To be clear, I said feel. I don’t know that I actually am being judged. Regardless it is highly inconvenient to need to pump at least three times during the work day. People don’t understand that pumping for a nursing mom is like using the restroom. If the milk doesn’t come out you become engorged and it is just painful.  I also feel strange putting the pumping sign on my office door. Coworkers don’t necessarily understand that I am in my office working hard on my laptop while hooked up to this milk machine. The New Yorker published a piece in 2009 about how we are turning into our own milk maids as we create pumps to simulate real babies. Meanwhile we take babies away from their mothers.

“If breast is best, why are women bottling their milk,” the article questions.

I want to make it at least ten or twelve months breast feeding Baby C2. However, as the travel demands for my job begin to increase due to an organization realignment, I am afraid it won’t be possible. During my last work trip we used all of my frozen reserve. I may end up having to choose providing for my family over feeding my baby.

We know that breastfeeding until six months is recommended by both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The WHO even recommends breast feeding in combination with allowed foods continue beyond the six month time frame. There has been a lot of recent discussion surrounding maternity leave and benefits for mothers of newborns. Specifically, Vodafone just announced new maternity leave policies to attract and retain women employees. Policies that support mothers being able to breast feed their babies for at least the minimum recommended time frames should also be seriously considered by government and employers.

As a working mom were you able to breast feed? What choices did you have to make to feed your baby?

Peace, Love and the Whirring Sound of Pumping,

Kristen

*It is important to note that I am able to afford, beyond healthcare compensation, for a very good portable pump. If I could not afford the $300+ dollars to purchase a quality portable pump, it would take much longer to pump and the decrease in breast milk supply could be greater.

Image Credit: huffingtonpost.com

Swallowing the Pumping Pill is Part 2 in a 3 Part Series About Breastfeeding and Pumping for Your Infant.

Read Part 1: USAirways & The Breast Pump Drama

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7 thoughts on “Swallowing the Pumping Pill

  1. Trista Souza says:

    I breast fed all 3 of my littles and worked after my second was born so pumping meant sitting in the break room hoping no one needed to take a break or sitting in the restroom where luckily the owner of my salon, who was also a mother, had plugs installed in the bathrooms for that very reason. But somehow breastfeeding in the restroom…regardless how clean it was…seemed unsanitary to me. Sometimes I had no choice. I also have DD boobs which made “just whooping a boob out” a bit difficult…lol

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  2. Kthrasher says:

    I could have written this! After coming home, we struggled with weight gain so I pumped after every feeding to try and boost my supply. I couldn’t master tandem feeding so it was feed one baby, someone would then take him away to finish off with formula, feed the other baby, then pump, clean pump parts, look at the clock and realize it was almost time to start again! When we realized E had a milk allergy, and I had to stop nursing her, I pumped after every feeding to try and keep making extra. When we determined she also had a soy allergy it was a catch 22. I couldn’t cut both fro my diet and get enough calories to make enough milk for 2. I know some moms who can, but it was just too much for us. Heartbreaking! Anyway, once I returned to work, my supply dropped. After 2 business trips, I depleted my freezer supply. I brought back some, but I still only have enough for a day in the freezer. Every time I have a bad day and don’t pump enough (last week I was a little stressed and only got 9oz/day), it kills me. Another catch 22. Stress decreases my supply, which stresses me more. I have found that power pumping weekends work. I’ll pump after every feeding again, and it usually boosts it for a while and I can get a few more bags in the freezer. Oops, sorry so long!

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  3. A says:

    I was lucky enough to have a suitable pumping environment at work and very little supply problems. My son nursed or took breastmilk bottles for 11 months (and one week!). However the amount of time and effort my husband and I devoted to cleaning sterilizing preparing storing freezing etc was huge. I’m glad I did it and had the workplace support to do it but do question what is missed when you’re not nursing directly?

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    • kbconway says:

      A, completely agree. The bonding, connection and skins to skin are important parts of nursing. They also all increase supply. Like the New Yorker article, I wonder too what is missing when you pump instead of nurse. It is one of the reasons I go daily to feed Baby C2 on my lunch break. Fortunately, he is close enough that I can do that.

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