Loathsome (m)Ilk

I hate pumping.

That could be my entire blog, because that’s the crux of the matter, but I will attempt to elaborate.

I chose to breastfeed my daughter because I am convinced breastmilk is the best possible option for any child’s nourishment.  It’s also beneficial to the mother, as the longer she breastfeeds, the lower her chances for breast cancer go.  Only the mother’s milk can impart the antibodies her baby needs to develop a healthy immune system, and the taste of breast milk changes as the mother’s menu changes, opening up an exciting world of flavours for baby, which formula can’t do.

That said, please, none of you formula-feeding mothers give up on me!  I do not condemn you, look down on you or think I’m better than you.  Breastfeeding was simply my choice, and though I firmly believe it is the best one any mother can make, I do understand that every mother has to do what works for her.  Some situations require the use of formula, and some mothers just can’t stand breastfeeding and switch happily to formula.  And their babies do just fine.

For the first three months it was an adventure; I had to wear nursing pads to avoid embarrassing situations in public (I recommend the Lansinoh brand over the Johnson & Johnson options – they stay in place better and seem to absorb more; they’re also softer), and sleeping was not always comfortable.

Though I knew I had to go back to work at some point, I didn’t bother storing up breast milk in the freezer as some do.  I’d heard mixed ideas about whether or not a storehouse of frozen breast milk was, in fact, brilliant, including thoughts that after a month the nutritive properties are just about gone.  So I opted to skip it.  I only pumped enough to give Daddy a chance to try bottle feeding as practice for when I went back to work (he took three months of paternity leave after my three months of maternity leave).

This may or may not have been a mistake, but what is done is done, and here I am, sitting in an office all day, watching the clock to make sure I pump regularly when at all possible.

When I came back to work my milk supply dipped a LOT.  I was just about running dry for a week, and it was too early to introduce Little Miss to solids.  I panicked, thinking I was starving my child, and she fussed and cried at every feeding, hungry but not getting enough to satisfy her little belly.  I shed a lot of tears that week.  I also consulted with a lactation consultant and several breastfeeding friends in an attempt to find a solution.

After a 3-day weekend of nursing her every 90-120 minutes my supply began to come back up.  The following week at work I pumped four times a day instead of twice.  Unfortunately, that trend has had to become the norm and I now have to pump four times a day at work and once in the evening to make up for the milk Little Miss drinks in bottles from Babysitter during the day.  Even then I often come up short, barely scraping by with an ounce or two to spare by the time Friday rolls around.  I spend my weekends attempting to build my supply both in me and in the fridge.

Interrupting my focus at work four times daily to sit in a chair and stare at the wall for ten minutes is irritating enough, but add to that the frustration of only pumping an ounce to an ounce and a half each time and it’s enough to make me want to chuck the pump at the wall.  (If it wasn’t such a nice pump – top of the line Avent – that I received second-hand for free, I just might have done it already.)

However, as I’ve said many times, both in writing and aloud to other moms, the benefit I know I’m passing along to my daughter makes the frustration and irritation worth it.  And while it seems as though I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life, I’m 3/4 of the way through my goal length of a year.  I’m gonna make it.


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