Exclusive Pumping was not my intended path. When I imagined having a baby and breastfeeding, I imagined many beautiful moments spent bonding with my little human, their little body snuggled into mine, nursing into a dream-like state while tiny little butterflies of happiness flutter in my belly.
No, that did not happen. It did not happen with the first (our struggle of breastfeeding ended quite early on) and it didn’t happen with my second, who didn’t ever latch for a proper breastfeed. I definitely did not imagine a journey of exclusive pumping – hours and hours attached to a breast pump, living my life around a pumping schedule.
This might sound horrifying to some and it’s been an incredible labour of love, but this is the journey I found myself on and I don’t regret making the decision to go down this strange twist in the breastfeeding road.
How my exclusive pumping journey began
When Bailey was born, she was 1,75kg and in the NICU for just under 3 weeks. She struggled to gain weight and every drop of breastmilk was carefully measured against her weight gain. This is where my pumping journey began. We only attempted breastfeeding occasionally as it took more energy for her to breastfeed than the calories she was taking in from the milk and I quickly adjusted to a life of 3-hourly pumping, day and night.
It got easier as I started to allow her to sleep through the night without a night feed (and essentially allowing me to get a good stretch of sleep without pumping) and we fell into a good pumping/feeding schedule.
And there it was. My exclusive pumping life was established. It’s not what I planned, but then again, what part of motherhood really does go as ‘planned’?
I’ve exclusive pumped for over 5 months now. In the car, in the bathroom, rushing home in the middle of outings, working around a 3-hour pump schedule. I’ve had my boobs out around the clock, while managing my mad toddler and simultaneously bottle-feeding my little baby. I’ve frozen, defrosted, stored, worried about, leaked and counted hundreds of litres of milk and cried when it’s been spilt.
And now I feel that it’s time. It’s time to change route.
I’ve slowly reduced my pumping sessions from 6 times a day, to 5, to 4, to 3 and now to 2.
I’m not sure how much further I’ll go, but I’m proud of how far I’ve come and my dedication to feeding my tiny little one the best that I can.
I do feel that it is time to say goodbye to the pump soon. The pump I’ve had such an up-and-down relationship with. I’m looking forward to having my body back, to packing my boobs away and to some more freedom with my time. I’m looking forward to watching my little one continue to grow and develop as best she can and I know that any decision I make for her is the right one. Fed is best and so is a mom’s sanity!
I’d love to hear about your unexpected feeding journeys with your baby – reach out to me on Instagram to chat more and get a behind-the-scenes look at life with 2 under 2.