Pumping sucks. Yes, literally—that pump sucks milk (also known as liquid gold) from a mama’s breasts. But what I really mean is that pumping sucks, as in it’s a terrible, no fun, miserable way to spend thirty minutes of every three hours around the clock for months.
As a side note, please know that I do not allow my children to use the word “sucks” (except when we rock out to Kelly Clarkson’s My Life Would Suck Without You on our library-borrowed KidsBop CD in the minivan. Holla!). So please excuse my French as I use this word liberally throughout the rest of this post.
Also, please note that this is not a how-to post (because moms who exclusively pump, or pump a lot, are heroes–and I’m not one), nor is it a “breastfeeding is best” post. Feed your baby however you can or however you choose. This post is, instead, an ode to moms who pump.
Necessary to Pump
I’ve been richly blessed with five beautiful babies, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed all five. I’m also a working mom who went back to school or work with each baby around month three. This obviously means pumping was necessary to keep up supply and provide milk for my babies when they were being cared for by someone else.
Y’all, it turns out pumping sucks. Being attached to a wall, trying to focus on making milk (or not focus on making milk so that milk comes out), while feeling like a cow and drinking as much water as humanly possible, while also trying not to worry about producing enough to keep up with the baby, while watching cellphone videos of the baby crying to try to stimulate milk production is plain ole miserable. Ya know? And then you get to repeat it numerous times a day while trying to work, or keep up with other kids, or manage a crying baby. Or perhaps all three simultaneously. It sucks.
Trying Out All the Breastfeeding Tools
I have never made it to my goal of one year of exclusive breastfeeding because of my combined inability and unwillingness to pump enough to maintain supply. At first I thought I just didn’t have the right tools, so I bought that holster bra thingy, tried a car adapter for pumping on the go, and got a different (better?) brand of pump when I had my last baby. But . . . pumping still sucks. So, I’ve supplemented with formula (which is not a bad thing, I might add) in order to keep up. I wish I was selfless enough to pump more, but I’m not. Because pumping sucks.
You’re Not Alone
I was recently at a family gathering where, as I nursed my newborn, the subject of pumping came up. My sister has had two NICU babies. She pumped around the clock for months and months to ensure supply for her babies in the hospital and to preserve her ability to breastfeed once they came home.
Another family member exclusively pumped for her baby for months because he wouldn’t latch. If you haven’t pumped gallons of milk as a mother, you undoubtedly know someone who has. There are tons of reasons moms have to (or choose to) pump.
It is a very good thing that we have the option, ability, and equipment as moms today to provide milk for our babies in this way.
But, pumping sucks.
You Are My Heroes
So while I have no advice or suggestions to make it suck less, let me take this opportunity to say that you, moms who pump, are my heroes. You have sacrificed your time, your sleep, your dignity, your sanity, and who knows what else to provide for your baby. You have put up with a lot, while trying to be discrete. You’ve perhaps been locked in a bathroom stall or another less-than-ideal space to provide. You have sucked it up (yes, another pun) time and time again to put the welfare of your child above yourself. So props to you, pumping moms. Your baby is in the best of hands.