ProMoM Inc. - Promoting the awareness and acceptance of breastfeeding.

Pumping Iron
Expressing Breastmilk for your Baby

 

When I had a baby, I told myself that I was going to do my best to breastfeed my daughter because of the overwhelming evidence that breastfeed babies are healthier babies. But I also knew that I would be returning to work. This meant that I could only breastfeed in the mornings and the evenings. During the day I would have to pump.

I had heard such horror stories about pumping. "I didn't have a place to do it," "I didn't have time to do it," "I couldn't get enough milk with the pump to make it worthwhile," "I was worried about what my coworkers would think or what I would tell them," and the list goes on and on. People have their own reasons for their decisions, but I was determined to focus not on why I couldn't do it, but rather why I should do it and how to accomplish it.

Ask anyone who knows me, I am not a person known for my willpower! No chocolate is safe around me and I have been trying to lose weight and get on a regular exercise routine for years. Still haven't done it! But by golly, for six months, I pumped breast milk at work every day without fail. Now that's a major victory! I am convinced that each day I pumped breastmilk was an investment in my baby girl's future. Whether you nurse and pump for two weeks, seven months, two years or more, your baby is better off for it.

I am not a doctor or nurse, I am a working mom. This book is meant to chronicle my journey in hopes that some of the things I learned and some of the mistakes I made will benefit others. Once I started pumping, I found that I had so many questions, but nowhere to turn to get them answered. The books and articles I have seen about breastfeeding focus on the mechanics of the act: what pump to buy, how much to pump, how to get your milk to come down and how to produce more milk.

My questions were more related to accommodating pumping in today's work environment. When do you pump? What do you do if you have meetings? What do you tell people? What supplies will you need? What do you do if you are out of the office? How do you talk to your boss? What do you do if you forget your pump? All of these questions are important ones that I could find no answer to, so I figured the answers out as I went along.

I know that my experiences will not be the same as anyone who reads this book. Each mother and child are unique. That's what makes motherhood so special. But with that gift comes the opportunity to figure out how to make breastfeeding/pumping work best for you and your baby. My hope is that some of the things I figured out along the way might prove helpful to others. I am so proud that I was able to pump for as long as I did. My daughter is the beneficiary of that. I am also the beneficiary because I have done something wonderful for my daughter that will benefit her the rest of her life. In addition, I feel that the people I work with are a little more informed and aware of the needs and demands on breastfeeding moms.

Deciding to breast feed and express breast milk is a personal decision. Each woman has to decide what is best for her and her baby. I know that for many women, breastfeeding and pumping is not a viable or possible option. But I also think that many women who choose not to breastfeed/pump make that decision far too early in a baby's life (or even before the baby is born!) before the new mom and baby have a chance to emerge from the post-partum period and develop a routine.

What I can tell you is that breastfeeding and pumping can be an inconvenience. I think many new moms, myself included, are ready to get their lives back once they have had the baby. You want your figure back, you want to have a glass of wine with dinner, you want to leave the baby with a sitter and go to a movie, you want to leave the baby with her grandparents overnight while you and your husband have a romantic getaway. And who can blame you? You have been denying yourself all sorts of things the past nine months so that your baby will be as healthy as possible when she enters this world.

So now you've had the baby and you want back what you had. If you decide to breastfeed then you will still have to watch what you eat, including the medicines you take, you have to drag that pump around with you, you have to schedule things according to when you need to nurse or pump. It's almost like you are still pregnant!

What is the easy thing to do? It's to make up formula and store the bottles neatly in a diaper bag. Then when the baby is hungry, you or anyone available can feed the baby. But remember that if you pump, you can still have some of these freedoms. You can leave the baby and several bottles of breastmilk with a sitter. You can go out to eat, take the baby and feed her from a bottle. Plus, your husband (the baby's father) can enjoy feeding the baby too.

Now, some may argue that pumped mother's milk is no substitute for milk suckled from the breast. I agree. Anyone who has pumped breast milk recognizes the cold, practical nature of the act as compared to the warm, nurturing act of nursing. However, if full-time breastfeeding is not an option, as is the case for many of today's working women, then pumping allows the mom the freedom to work while still nurturing the baby with mother's milk.

Pumping is not an uphill battle it gets easier with every passing day. There are those days, though. One thing to always keep in mind is that if you are thrown off schedule one day, your milk production is not going to shut down. One day after I had been back at work for several months, I had gotten busy, looked at my watch and realized that 6.5 hours had passed since I last pumped. I was horrified! I felt guilty that I was forgetting to do the one thing that sustains and nurtures my daughter. I took a pumping break immediately and as the milk flowed and I collected my thoughts, I reminded myself that everything I do sustains and nurtures my daughter when I hold her, when I sing to her, when I play with her, when I tickle her, and when I feed her.

Excerpt from "Pumping Iron Expressing Breastmilk for Your Baby"
By Julie Rhodes (pumpingusa@netscape.net)

Pumping Iron - Expressing Breastmilk for your Baby