Below is Katie’s exclusive pumping story after an exhausting week of syringe feeding. You can read more exclusive pumping stories here. A big thank you to Katie for sharing her story!
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Why did you decide to exclusively pump?
Out of necessity. My planned home birth went out the door after my pregnancy went to 43 weeks. After a very long and difficult posterior labour, my baby girl was taken away for seven hours while they monitored her vitals. The greatly sought after ‘latch’ just didn’t happen. LC appointments and phone calls and visits from midwifery team as well as osteopathy appointments didn’t resolve the latching issue.
There didn’t seem to be any reason why she couldn’t latch. I was exhausted due to a week of syringe feeding and my baby was becoming dehydrated, but I persisted because I wanted to breastfeed and because I was told that if I gave her a bottle she would never latch.
It was an incredibly emotional time and feelings of failure and rejection didn’t help. My midwife said something to me that helped me move forward to bottle feeding and exclusively pumping. She said, “This is just your first experience as a parent where what you wanted to happen, and what actually happened, aren’t in agreement.”
The pumping journey began. I didn’t know much about exclusive pumping and my biggest concern was could I do it long term? I was determined to give my baby breastmilk for as long as she wanted it.
How did you make exclusive pumping work for you?
Great question. I read other women’s stories just like this. I researched as much as I could about exclusive pumping. And I set small goals – one month, three months, and so on. I remember reading other pumping stories and longing to be as far along as they were, and then I stopped looking ahead. One pump at a time.
Throughout this journey I bought three Medela pumps ending with the Freestyle, and that was a great purchase. It felt so freeing to be so mobile. It still blows my mind that in the first few months of pumping I was using a single Medela Swing, pumping one breast at a time so many times a day! I bought the Swing in the very beginning just to keep my milk coming in while I tried to get her to latch. I didn’t know the pumping journey that was ahead of me.
What was your biggest challenge with exclusive pumping?
The good ol’ middle of the night pump. Especially in the winter! I got up every night for 11 months as it was such a productive pumping session and because I want to go long term, I was apprehensive about dropping it too early on. I now know that if I went on this journey again, I could drop it sooner as my milk production is still over 1 litre (36oz) at three pumping sessions, and my body transitioned to a 11 hour break overnight without any clogs. Heaven!
How long did you exclusively pump?
It’s been 12 months, and I’m still doing three pumping sessions per day. I’m freezing a few bags a week and when my baby stops, I will. Looking forward to dropping to two sessions per day. I’m so happy I’ve been able to go this long.
What advice would you give a new exclusive pumper?
Keep reminding yourself that breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby, and make sure you establish your supply before you start dropping pumps. I have followed Amanda’s schedule and have had no supply issues. I am hugely grateful for this website and the valuable information it offers. [Thank you!] It’s such a gift to have an alternative to breastfeeding and still provide breastmilk.
Are there any other thoughts about exclusive pumping that you’d like to share?
As a naturopath I cannot resist reiterating the importance of breastmilk for your baby. Your child has a lifetime of eating ahead so offer breastmilk as long as you can! Also, take great care of your diet while you do this.
Also, spread the word about your experience. I knew nothing about exclusive pumping and I wonder how many mum’s who had breastfeeding issues switched to formula because they didn’t know pumping was an option.