Monday, October 24, 2011

Today I Stop Pumping

It is a momentous day for me, and for my seventeen month old son, Josias. Today I will stop pumping breastmilk. At the height of Josias' breastmilk intake, I was pumping four times per day. One time early in the morning before work, and then three times at work. For the last two months I have been slowly eliminating one pumping session every few weeks. 

I had the most optimal work environment imaginable - a supportive boss, a private office, and a flexible schedule, all of which allowed me to pump three times a day, every day, right on schedule.  And it was still excruciatingly difficult.

I just couldn't seem to make enough milk to satisfy my beautiful, healthy, intelligent, growing boy.  I took Fenugreek and Goat's Rue; I ate oatmeal everyday; and I sipped Mother's Milk Tea. I ate well, I drank a lot of water and I exercised. I breastfed as much as possible when Josias and I were together, including up to six times per night. I saw a lactation consultant, who advised me to engage in breast compressions while pumping.

There were times when there was nothin' left in the freezer, and I wasn't sure if I had enough milk to see him through the day. I was so stressed about not making enough milk that I was surely preventing myself from making enough milk. Even though I realized this, I just couldn't stop worrying about it. Somehow, though, we squeaked by. 

Whenever I turned to someone for support, they always said, "just give him formula." If I had to supplement, I would have, but this was almost everyone's go-to response, and it was not helpful. What would have been helpful? Just listening, and maybe telling me I was doing great. Looking back now, I wish I could have eased up on myself a bit. I believe babies should get breastmilk whenever possible, but I also think sometimes conditions just don't allow you to meet the ideal, and us mamas need to be kind to ourselves and each other.

Now that I'm done pumping, Josias will drink organic almond milk at daycare along with the tons of food he consumes, and we'll breastfeed when we're together. I am so relieved not to have to pump anymore. I can finally admit that although it was my greatest desire to give Josias all the breastmilk he needed, pumping was a difficult and stressful thing for me. 

In addition to relief, I have other feelings coming up. I feel a bit weepy that my baby is growing up. I feel proud that we both hung in there and I provided for him as best I could. This also makes me think about the day when he will no longer breastfeed. That may be a couple years away, but I'm sure it will bring with it the same mixture of relief, sadness, pride and recognition that my baby is growing up, which is as it should be. Pumping has been a hard row for me to hoe, but the end result is my joyful son, my sweetheart, who we affectionately call Josias Pie.

Did you pump breastmilk? For how long? What was your experience like when you stopped?

Photo credit: Author

5 comments:

Wow. What an accomplishment to have such devotion and conviction - pumping for 17 months! I pumped for about 4 weeks when my first child was in the NICU following an emergency surgery at birth. I also pumped infrequently when I returned to work part time- but then I stopped. I don't really love the pump - (who does?) - so since I don't need to pump with my son (2nd baby), I'm really relieved to just nurse. I have a little freezer stash for emergencies and teething (frozen in ice cube form). . . but I'm so relieved that I didn't have to take my pump out for very long this time around.

I have a friend who is pumping exclusively for her now 5 month old, and she is doing really well with it (but she hopes that if she keeps offering the breast that he'll eventually latch and transfer well enough to not have to pump). I have the greatest respect for pumping mamas! Having worked with many working moms as a WIC BF Counselor and having pumped and breastfed myself - I'm convinced that those moms who have (or choose) to pump and continue to pump enough for breast milk to be the main source of nourishment for their infant are super dedicated mamas who definitely know what's natural and best for their infants. Pump on, rocking mamas!

Congrats on making it so far! I must admit that I cannot wait for the day that I don't have to pump anymore. A necessary evil, I guess!

As a breastfeeding mom and WIC Breastfeeding Peer, I applaud your efforts! My youngest was also a NICU baby and I pumped RELIGIOUSLY while she was in the hospital and after she got home (occasionally moo-ing while pumping... because that's how I felt). I had to fortify pumped breastmilk for my daughter because apparently modern science did not agree that my milk was enough for her. ANYWAY, after beginning work as a BFP for WIC, I pumped for a few weeks, but realized I didn't really need to and stopped. My daughter (now 14 months) cluster feeds when we're together, and is slowing down with nursing on her own anyway (her choice, I take my cues from her about how often and how long she wants to nurse). I am so glad to not be pumping anymore, but really sad that she is starting to wean herself. She is my last, due to my medical issues, so when she's done, that's it for me. However, I will NOT miss my pump at all!

Congrats on an amazing accomplishment! I too just "hung up my horns" and stopped pumping while at work. I did it from my return to work (when little one was three months) until earlier this month (she is now 20 months). It was a long haul, I did not enjoy pumping one bit although I did use that time to do my baby journaling and I now have stacks of baby journals with lots of great memories written down for safekeeping. Doubtful I would have made the time to do that journaling without the mandated pumping breaks! We are still nursing like gangbusters all night, during the mornings and afternoons and every weekend/holiday/vacation day. Stopping pumping has not affected our nursing relationship one bit. We are in it for the long haul and I just hope she weans me gently when she's ready, because I doubt I will be ready. :)

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