Exclusively Pumping Mamas:: You are Amazing

Dear Exclusively Pumping Mama,

I see you over there. Yep…you. The one attached to that medieval torture device breast pump for hours on end every day just trying to provide nourishment for your sweet baby. The one who lives and breathes by a very strict pumping schedule 24/7. The one who is obsessed with checking and re-checking your pumping parts in your pumping bag any time you leave the house because missing one tiny membrane could spell disaster if you are far from home and missing that one critical part. And the one who constantly has to explain and re-explain to busy-bodies inquiring minds why you don’t just contact breastfeed your baby or give your baby formula like “everyone else”.

I gave birth to my second son a few weeks ago and I stand with you in solidarity on this exclusively pumping journey. This is actually my second time around the exclusively pumping block as I also did it with my first-born son 4.5 years ago. I am a strong supporter of the “fed is best” movement and I am so thankful for the advice of a fellow colleague of mine at work who first introduced me to the concept of exclusively pumping after struggling those first few weeks trying to contact breastfeed my newborn son who was both tongue and lip tied.

My second son is not tongue or lip tied and actually had no issues latching in the recovery room after his birth, but I’ve still chosen to exclusively pump for him. For me, I love knowing exactly how many ounces of breastmilk he is consuming, and I love the freedom that having expressed breastmilk on hand at all times gives me when it comes to others {mainly my husband} being able to feed him to give me a much needed break. You probably have your own reasons as to why you exclusively pump and you know what?  It’s no one’s freaking business why you exclusively pump.  Maybe you have a preemie.  Maybe your sweet baby has latch issues.  Maybe you’re a victim of sexual abuse and the thought of contact breastfeeding stirs up emotions that you do not need in your life right now.  Whatever the reason…it’s YOUR reason and that’s all that matters.  So shut out the “noise” from others when they learn of your exclusive pumping journey.

You know what though? You are freaking amazing…a true combination of Wonder Woman and Super Mom by any definition. Has anyone told you that yet?  If they haven’t, they should and here’s why::

We Don’t Fit the Mold

Like me, you probably feel like exclusively pumping often seems like this secret, underground world that no one speaks of until they come across other mamas who are already exclusively pumping. Even trips to the pediatrician’s office are a reminder for us that as exclusive pumpers, we don’t fit the mold.  At my son’s first visit to the pediatrician a few weeks ago, I was completing all of the normal forms and the question of feeding came up. There was a box to check for breastfeeding and a box for bottles/formula feeding. So, what did I do? I checked both and wrote off to the side “exclusively pumping breastmilk with bottles” to make a point. 

You probably also face questions from well intentioned, but overly invasive strangers about why you “chose not to breastfeed your baby”, their questions and facial expressions dripping with judgement. It takes a lot of guts though to break from traditional breastfeeding norms and do what works best for you and your baby. So do not for a second let anyone make you feel lesser-than simply because you do not fit the traditional breastfeeding mold. Stand proud and use these somewhat uncomfortable encounters with people as opportunities to help educate others on exclusively pumping and why it is such a great alternative for some of us. I was very close to giving up on my breastfeeding journey with my first son when I had a had a heartfelt conversation with my colleague about her exclusively pumping journey with her children and that it might be a great option for me to consider. Just imagine how many others you could potentially inspire or encourage by talking about exclusively pumping in a way that doesn’t make it seem weird or strange. 

Exclusively Pumping Requires an Extreme Level of Discipline

I don’t have to tell you that exclusively pumping requires an extreme level of discipline. It often means daily alarms set for times in the middle of the night to get up and pump, often while your sweet baby is still sound asleep and not even hungry at that very moment. It also requires a considerable amount of attention to detail while packing up any time you leave your house. Is there enough space in your luggage for all of your pumping supplies and equipment? Do you have all of the right parts? Do you have your cooler packs? When and where will you set up to pump? Will you have adequate power supply to pump? The list goes on. The fact that we have enough space in our minds for these constant questions on top of everything else we manage as mothers is quite remarkable. 

It also leads to an obsession with numbers, tracking your pumping data, and your overall supply. I don’t know about you, but every pumping session for me is a competition with myself on my output. Was it at least as much as the last session? How am I tracking for the day? How much longer will I have to keep pumping to hit my breastfeeding goal? The amount of effort that goes into all of that is incredible and no small feat so give yourself a pat on the back for constantly juggling all of that data. 

Exclusively pumping also forces you to become more efficient with your time. You and I both know that feeling of being bone tired at the end of a long day and staring at your pump knowing that you’ve got to work in that one last session or you’re going to majorly regret it later. Like me, I’m sure you have so much more appreciation for when and where you spend your time than you did before you became an exclusively pumping hero. You learn to invest more time where it matters in between pumping sessions, and less time where it doesn’t which is a skill that many wish they could master in general. So, take pride in knowing that you’ve somehow managed to unlock one of the great secrets in life. 

Overall, being an exclusive pumper actually means you are part of an elite sisterhood. A sisterhood of women who made the decision to be different in order to do what’s best for us and our sweet babies and made tremendous sacrifices in order to be successful. The human body is an amazing machine and I remember looking back at all of my pumping data with my first son and getting choked up with pride over what I had accomplished on my exclusively pumping journey. By the time “broke up with my pump” due to having enough breastmilk in my deep freeze to get my son to 12 months on breastmilk, I had logged 1,925 pumping sessions and produced 13,810 ounces {108 gallons!!!} of breastmilk. Anyone who says that isn’t amazing, clearly has a distorted sense of appreciation for what the human body is capable of doing.  

So, keep up the great work, mama and know that you are doing something amazing for your sweet baby that not all are capable of doing. Bravo!!!


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3 Responses to Exclusively Pumping Mamas:: You are Amazing

  1. Avatar
    Kelly Mock June 27, 2019 at 6:48 am #

    You go momma! I’m a contributor for Dallas Moms Blog, and our journeys sound incredibly similar! Our kids are even about the same ages! PS I just had to start supplementing with formula because my peanut isn’t growing well 😔 it was like a blow the heart. The things we do for our kids!

    • Vicki J
      Vicki J June 27, 2019 at 7:21 am #

      Thank you for the shout out and congrats on your new little one! Sorry to hear he’s not growing as well as hoped but don’t blame yourself (even though it’s SO easy to go down that dark path). Remember FED IS BEST and you’re doing the best job you can for your little one. Bravo to you, mama!

  2. Avatar
    Nicole Bell July 1, 2019 at 12:17 pm #

    Thank you HMB for helping to take away the stigma of EPing! I exclusively pumped with both my babies! It was very hard with my first when a very close friend of mine asked if I felt like I was missing out on bonding with my baby, since he didn’t breast feed straight from the tap. I bonded with both my babies just fine by holding them closely while I bottle fed them. Much more so then when I tried to contact breastfeed and they screamed and cried in hunger and pain!

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