So often we hear stories of breastfeeding and not of pumping. Pumping is simpler we think, and thus less interesting. It’s more of a one and done, mechanical motion, so why write about it? It is true that breastfeeding should be a bit more of the focus when it comes to writing and discussing feeding our little ones, but that doesn’t mean that pumping needs to be overlooked. Mothers are constantly pumping for their babies, whether on the job, in the NICU/hospital or at home. We need to highlight that type of work and effort too!
I still related to, and kinetically remember the feeling of producing what was to me, a high volume of milk in one setting and feeling elated. On a different day, I might pump far less and struggle with different, sadder feelings. It is important to not get too focused on amount driven pumping. When we are feeding our babies at the breast, the focus is different- we look at the latch, the connection, maybe the time, maybe the feeling of fullness in the breast but not the amount.
One thing I like to talk about in regards to pumping is just how different everyone is. Because I had a NICU baby, and was pumping a lot in the beginning, I joined some social media support groups called “exclusively pumping mamas.” Although breastfeeding changed and improved for us, and I don’t pump as much anymore, I am still apart of those groups because I find them interesting. On the other hand, I know other moms that are avid breastfeeding moms and have hardly pumped at all. Some say their body never really responded to a pump and yet their children have still grown up on mainly breastmilk. I think it is fascinating how people have so many different views when it comes to pumping and yet still share the common thread of being a breastfeeding mom.
The truth about pumping is that different people have different pumping situations that may work better for them than others. For example, some mother-baby nurse friends at the hospital have access to a sharable hospital grade pump at work and thus don’t have to pack their pump with them to work, they can just bring the tubing. Not everyone may have this available to them. Others may have co-workers that are highly supportive, others may not. Some may have a comfortable pump space, others may have to make do with what is offered to them. Either way, everyone has the law protecting their right to pump at work or school every 3-4 hours for 30 minutes unpaid during the first year after birth. But it is great, when one can look beyond the law, and maybe to the culture with a sense of gratitude of what is keeping you going in regards to pumping? Is it your co-workers, your pump space, your pump, or maybe your baby motivating you!