This morning I threw out two full bags of frozen breast milk which had found their way to the back of our freezer somehow. That’s 10 whole ounces, people!
I hadn’t put dates on them (I never did as I tended to only pump when I needed it, rarely able to keep a freezer supply) so I didn’t want to risk giving it to my son.
As I was tossing the bags in the trash I had a flashback of those days spent connected to that pump like a farm animal. Listening to that ‘mrrr mrrr mrrr’ as I watched the small droplets of milk drip into the bag, ‘drip……drip…………..drip’.
I hated pumping. Though what women doesn’t? I would spend an entire day pumping on and off just to get five measly ounces. I don’t know if it was because my son was nursing so much or I just never got the hang of it. I do know that once I got over my fear of the highest setting (holy suction!) I was able to pump out more. Not a lot more. But more.
My biggest issue with pumping was trying to find the time. My son would only nap on me, so I couldn’t do it when he was napping. I was able to find time some mornings when he was chilling out on his play mat, but I often had to put it to the side to attend to his needs.
And then there was that one day that I spilled a whole days work of pumping. Whoever said ‘don’t cry over spilled milk’ was obviously not talking about breastmilk.
Luckily I didn’t need to pump often. I pretty much only pumped for freedom. I pumped when I was going out (on the rare occasion) and when I needed sleep and my husband would get up to give him a bottle.
Having been through all this before, there are a few things I would do differently when it comes to pumping. They are:
- Start pumping right away. My doula told me to do this to make sure that my supply was healthy. I didn’t because I didn’t have any supply issues. If anything, I was overproducing at first. So next time around I would pump to freeze. Because pumping on the day that I wanted my freedom was stressful. I always worried whether or not there would be enough.
- Set aside time every day to pump. And let my husband know that this is ‘me’ time. Not ideal me time, but just quiet, stress free time to get ‘er done. They say that it’s best to do it in the morning as that’s when you’ll have more excess milk, but I never did. My son was a major night feeder (no matter how much I nursed him in the day, he would till want to nurse a ton at night) and so by morning I was empty!
- Don’t stress about giving a bottle. I really wanted to breastfeed and I read that if you introduce a bottle too early you could create ‘nipple confusion’. Once we did introduce the bottle – I think it was at like 5 or 6 weeks – he was totally fine. Took to both no problem. I’d like to introduce it earlier, especially for the night feeds. I think I’ll save myself a lot of stress if I just let my husband take some nights (especially if he’s not working – if he’s working, well, then probably not).
I haven’t pumped in months and I was so happy to put that thing away. And even though I’m still breastfeeding, it’s only once a day. I returned to work when he was 12 months and he’s a champion eater, so he has never needed a bottle throughout the day when I’m not there.
I just want to give out serious kudos to those mommas who are able to build up a freezer supply and, for those who return to work within the first year, send their babies off to daycare with breastmilk. There were times that I thought of pumping as my second job with quotas to meet. So good on you ladies for meeting your quotas! Raises for everyone!!