Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pump It

I have debated long and hard before deciding to write this entry, simply because it's quite personal and I'm not confident about how it will be received. So, for those of you who are squeamish, here is a spoiler: this entry topic is about breastfeeding and pumping. Now, the last thing that I really want to do is gross anyone out, so here is your opportunity to click away. However, if you are a mother, plan to be a mother, or plan to be a father even, you might as well get used to the idea of talking about breasts, baby-feedings, formula, and pumping.

My motivation for writing this entry is that I have had an experience that apparently is somewhat unique, so I thought I might share this experience in order to encourage any other women who may possibly go through a similar experience. Basically, I had decided in the beginning of the pregnancy to not breastfeed Silas, but changed my mind after a friend who is a lactation consultant provided me with a lot of helpful information. I knew that BJ was in support of breastfeeding, and eventually I came to believe that this was something that I wanted to do. I was lucky to have the help (albeit long-distance help) of my LC friend, plus the infinite support of BJ, as well as my mother-in-law, who was able to draw from some of her own experiences and encourage me along the way. This part of the story is not unique, however. The unique part came about two months after Silas was born, when I decided that it was far preferable to stop breastfeeding Silas and use my breast pump exclusively. In this way, I was able to draw my own milk for the nutritional benefits for Silas, but he was bottle-fed all of this milk rather than drinking it from me. The reasons that I decided to do this were several fold, and briefly they are as follows: 1. I was uncomfortable with breast-feeding in public. 2. Silas seemed to be becoming increasingly unhappy while feeding at the breast, and would withdraw numerous times during a feeding and then re-latch. 3. When we were with other people whom I was not comfortable baring in front of, we required a cover, and Silas got over-heated underneath it (it was the middle of summer after all). 4. I wanted others to be able to feed Silas. 5. I was a major milk producer and I wanted as much excess supply as possible, so that we could freeze milk for later usage, and this could only be accomplished through a breast-pump. 6. The ease of bottle-feeding Silas was too great. and finally 7. Silas and I didn't seem to have that 'magical' connection during breastfeeding that most mothers say they experience. This was really the biggie for me that most mothers could not seem to swallow when I told them; the truth was, I felt a stronger connection with Silas when I was bottle-feeding him because I could get closer to him and look into his eyes. So, for all of these reasons, going the way of the pump only seemed like the best thing to do for US. Unfortunately, though, I seemed to run across no other mother like me, who actually preferred the mechanical pump to her own child at the breast, and thus I felt isolated and wrong. This was a slightly painful time for me as I recall how odd other mothers seemed to think that I was. I eagerly read books, such as The Milk Memos: How Real Moms Learned to Mix Business with Babies-and How You Can, Too and The Breastfeeding Cafe: Mothers Share the Joys, Challenges, and Secrets of Nursing, thinking that, in all of these women's stories, surely SOMEONE has my experience as well. However, reading these books only made me feel like more of an oddball, as the vast majority of these mothers extolled the wonders of this magical breastfeeding connection that I never actually felt.

For those who guessed that it could not be done, I continued to pump exclusively, from the beginning of July until just two weeks ago. Silas never tasted formula until two weeks ago. My milk supply only ran out as I spaced out feedings and intended it to run dry, and Silas is now on a half-breastmilk, half-formula diet as we try to extend our supply for as long as possible. After all is said and done, I think his supply will last between six weeks and two months via this method. Heck yeah!

As I said earlier, this entry is very personal, but I wanted to share it in case you are, or will someday be, a mother like I was, who wants to breastfeed but doesn't find it fulfilling, and thus chooses the route that I did for other reasons. You are not alone.


  1. Definitely not alone. I also pumped exclusively for about 5 months with my twins. You do what you gotta do. :)

  2. I really enjoyed this entry, thanks for sharing, Jenny!