My first attempt at breastfeeding I consider unsuccessful. I nursed my daughter for the first 4 months of her life and then returned to work. I bought a pump and was determined to use it but found lack of support for the ability to continue to feed my daughter breastmilk.
When I approached the subject of a place to pump in my workplace, my (female, childless) boss was kind and supportive and offered to let me use her office space. As the weeks went on and I visited her office at the same time every day (there was only ONE short break in my schedule that allowed time) it became more and more inconvenient for her.
Some days she had a meeting, other days she had too much work to get done and could not spare her office for that time, and some days she was just gone at the scheduled time and the door was locked.
Pumping in the Bathroom
The only other option was the public bathroom. The pump was LOUD. It sounded weird coming from one of the stalls, and I was the only woman on that campus that recently had given birth. Somehow, pumping in the bathroom made me feel ashamed.
I was so stressed-out by the situation that I was not able to relax, not able to release as much milk, and I wanted the bathroom horror to be over as quickly as possible, so I would sometimes give up pumping after only going at it for a few minutes. You can imagine what happened.
The office availability became less and less, which led me to the bathroom more and more. The stress of being forced to pump in there, combined with my lack of authority, led to days where I had less and less milk to bring home to my baby.
I then resorted to pumping while driving home at night in my car for my hour-long commute. This did not work either but was a last-ditch effort that my hormones told me was a good idea.
I was an emotional wreck to say the least. You can ask my husband; I was not a fun person to live with. I would come home every day and just cry almost uncontrollably for hours over the guilty feelings I was having. Not only was I leaving my first born to the care of someone else to go back to work, but also now I was faced with a situation I was unprepared for. I am a breastfeeding advocate, just like I am a natural birthing advocate and here I was, giving up nourishing my daughter with the best food I knew was available, her momma’s milk.
I did not choose to stop breastfeeding my daughter. I was forced to by a society that does not place value in breastfeeding. I believe it is the same issue as nursing in public. Why is feeding a baby breastmilk so unsupported by our society? Why are new mothers made to feel bad about this?
What I am hearing is “cover your head with a blanket,” “pump in the bathroom.” Why are we doing this to our mothers? It’s an outrage that our society is treating ANYONE this way. Why are we made to feel shameful for something that is natural and that we know is right in our hearts, bodies, and minds?
If anything, this negative experience has made me a stronger breastfeeding advocate. This is a human rights issue. The next time around I choose not to be quiet. I choose not to be ashamed. I choose not to feel guilty, though I will always suffer from the guilt of quitting the first time around. I am nursing my next daughter come hell or high water. And watch me do it – whenever and wherever she needs it.
We are honored to host a guest post today from Amy. Amy is trained as an Art Therapist and Marriage and Family Therapist. She currently resides in Sonoma County California with her two young girls (16 months and 2 months), her husband, and dog. Both of her girls were born naturally, the first one at a birth center and the second at home.
Her interests which fuel her writing and artwork include women’s rights, natural parenting, natural childbirth, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, green living choices including cloth diapering, and vaccination choice.
Amy’s creative ventures include oil painting and honing her writing skills at birthactivist.com. She has also recently started doing graphic design for a photographer and produces photo cards, announcements, etc. You can see some of her work on Modern Heritage Photography and Design’s Facebook page.
This article is edited from a previous version published at birthactivist.com