Below is Alex’s story about exclusively pumping after surviving sexual abuse as a child. You can read more exclusive pumping stories here. A huge thank you to Alex for sharing this story!
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I knew when my husband and I decided to have a baby that she would have breastmilk because of all the incredible things it does for developing babies (and mommies too). Unfortunately, I also knew I wouldn’t be able to have her latch on. Being honest with myself, I shuddered at the idea of my baby on my nipple. It was weird, and the thought made me nauseous. You see, since the age of five, I was molested by three family members. To this day, I still struggle with separating sex in my head as a positive or negative, and breasts have always been sexualized in my world. However, I still wanted to give breastmilk, and thus began my exclusive pumping journey.
Amelia came on a Thursday night. Long labor, but everything went smoothly. I began pumping immediately after she was born. Looking back now, I wish I would have started pumping sooner (before delivery) to produce more colostrum. The nurses tried getting me to breastfeed. They were patient and kind. Amelia got milk and she latched like a champ. I legitimately tried, but I couldn’t tell them my truth. I cried when they left and grabbed my pump. Nothing would come.
She wasn’t receiving enough milk. I wasn’t producing enough. At Amelia’s first check-up, she was diagnosed with high bilirubin levels and was jaundiced. She was placed in a UV ray incubator for 48 hours. I continued to pump and pushed out about a half ounce each 30 minute session. My baby was starving, and I felt like a failure. The pediatrician said it was okay to supplement with formula. I was so against it, but knowing my baby was in that incubator starving, I accepted it. I continued to pump.
Then, it was my turn to go to the hospital. I was diagnosed with a severe kidney infection, and had I waited any longer, the doctor said I would have had to have surgery. I had a 104 degree fever, I was extremely weak, and my pee looked like molasses. I was at an ounce and a half per 20 minute session, every two hours. Five days later I was released from the hospital. I felt like a million bucks!
I had help! My husband, articles, friends and exclusive pumping blogs were HUGE support systems. If it was suggested, I tried it, and then I tailored it all to what worked for Amelia and me. Mother’s milk and fenugreek pills (taken together) worked to boost my supply after about two months. I drink water like a fish, which helped. In the early months I pumped every two hours for fifteen minutes like clockwork. Once a day, I performed a power hour.
Every other month, I experiment with decreasing the number of sessions per day. Now, seven months later, I pump four times a day for fifteen minutes, and I get about 36 to 40 ounces! I have a seven gallon stash for after the one year mark. I’m going to pump until my boobs give out.
I currently live day by day and thank God I never gave up. The health and well-being of my sweet baby girl has and always will be my motivation.