Tuesday, October 9, 2012

You're STILL Pumping?

Breastfeeding is very important to me.  My son and I had a very difficult time initially. Contrary to all my hopes and dreams, for the first month of his life we had to supplement with formula.  It was uphill all the way, but after about six weeks we attained exclusive breastfeeding.

The fight that required turned us both into breastfeeding fanatics.  Yet, there were still days when breastfeeding left me worn out, stressed out and frustrated.  As my maternity leave came to an end, I actually began to look forward to pumping as a way to get my son what he needed without requiring me to breastfeed all day every day.  Oh, the ignorance of the uninitiated!

I went back to work when Josias was 3 months old.  I had the most optimal environment for successful pumping imaginable: a supportive boss, a private office, a flexible schedule and an appropriate place to store breastmilk.  But before I had to rely on pumping, I hadn’t accounted for the fact that Mother Nature never intended a machine to suck breastmilk from my boobs.  And, as with almost everything under the sun, Mother Nature knows best.  The blasted machine just couldn’t get milk out the way my baby did.  And, it hurt!

Each day was touch and go in terms of whether I would have enough milk for Josias.  Somehow, we always squeaked by, but the whole process had me in a constant state of worry. So, as Josias’ first birthday approached, I was overjoyed that I had almost reached my goal of pumping for his first year and I would soon be retiring the pump.

Yet, when the day arrived, I just didn’t feel like it was time to stop.  Each day when I was washing up my pumping paraphernalia in the office kitchen, people would comment, “You’re still pumping?” or, “You must be a glutton for punishment!” or, simply, “Why?”

Why?  I don’t know if I can say exactly.  Josias was a happy and healthy one year old who ate a large quantity and variety of solids. We breastfed frequently when we were home together as well as throughout the night. And, in case I didn’t make my sentiments clear, I did not enjoy pumping.  So everything seemed to be in line to stop.

The only reason I come up with for not stopping at a year, is that I just wasn’t ready to take away all the benefits he received from hitting the nutritional jackpot of breastfeeding throughout the day. And, Josias loved his milky.  I didn’t feel it was time to stop, and I didn’t feel like Josias felt it was time to stop.

When Josias was seventeen months old my discomfort started to outweigh what I saw as the benefits of pumping.  So, that is when I stopped.

Each mama and nursling have to decide when this day I arrives for them.  No matter what anyone else says, I think it is different for each nursing pair and you have to go with what feels right.

If you made it to a few months of pumping? Hooray for you!  You gave your baby innumerable and irreplaceable benefits.  If you decide to keep pumping up to or even past two years?  Hooray for you!  You are doing what you know is best for you and your baby!

When did you stop pumping and why?


I pumped for my first daughter for about 6 months. I unfortunately had a lot going on in my personal life, I was stressed out, but I built up a stash before I stopped.

My second daughter has never been a good eater, she never really liked solids, and I ended up pumping for 16 months. My supply simply couldn't keep up, despite taking lots of fenugreek, eating lactation cookies, etc. It was exhausting and I knew my body was done with pumping - I was barely pumping anything and I was literally getting blood in my milk every time I pumped. I reached a point where I stopped cold turkey and never even got engorged - so in this case, my body dictated the end of pumping.

With my first, I was happy to switch him to cow milk at 1 yr during the day (and drop the pumping) - he still nursed when he was with me long after that. With my second, I also wanted her to have the benefit of breastmilk throughout the day while I was at work. I stopped pumping around 15 months because she just wasn't drinking her bottles anymore during the day (she just nursed with me when I was home and during the night). What I weighed was that I was working to pump twice a day and getting about 9 oz - and she was maybe drinking about 1.5 oz from a bottle at a time. Also I was really thin and didn't want to be overpumping for much longer if she wasn't even consuming it.

Way to go! I "hung up my horns" :) at 11.5 months, when I had enough stored so my daughter wouldn't need any formula during the day for those last 2 weeks. I also really disliked pumping, and unfortunately did not have a good place at work. We continued to nurse at night and on weekends until 19 months, and then she could have whole milk (we actually did goat milk) if she wanted it during the day.

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