My Exclusive Pumping Journey (9 Months and Going Strong) by guest blogger Chasity

After my failed natural birth, all I wanted to do was hold my son in my arms and breastfeed him. I wanted to be my son’s sole nutritional provider. I wanted to feel the inseparable bond that breastfeeding mothers talked about. I wanted my heart to warm as my son gave me a milky smile. I wanted my son and I to have the health benefits of breast milk. Breast milk is easier to digest, and lowers the risk of respiratory infections, asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and skin diseases. It also lowers the mother’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer (both of which I have a high risk of getting). While I was pregnant, I watched breastfeeding videos and went to Le Leche League meetings. In my mind, there was no way breastfeeding was not going to work out for me.

 

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After my C-section I had to stay in the recovery room for an hour. Then they rolled me into my room and brought me my son. He was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. With blonde hair and blue eyes he looked like the cherubs painted in church nursery rooms. I brought my son to my breast and he started eating. I winced in pain but I struggled through it. It will get better, I kept telling myself. Throughout the night the nurses kept waking me up to get me to roll over and change my catheter. While I was awake, I would have the lactation consultant come into my room and help me latch my son. I wanted to make sure that I was doing everything I could to ensure breastfeeding worked out. I wanted to make sure that he was eating enough and that my breasts were getting enough stimulation. In the two days that I was in the hospital, I had the lactation consultant come into my room too many times to count. I wanted to make sure that I was learning all the holds and latching techniques that I could. I was eating to make sure that I was getting enough calories and I was drinking a lot of water to make sure that I was getting enough liquids. My breasts were engorged and on paper everything was going the way it should. However, every time my son ate I cried. My nipples were not cracked, but the pain felt like my breasts were on fire.

 

“It is normal,” the lactation consultant told me. “Your nipples just have to toughen up. It will be better in a couple of weeks.”

 

“Okay,” I said, weakly.

 

I went home and continued breastfeeding. I called my local Le Leche League leader after a couple of days to find out why it was still burning. The Le Leche League leader told me that Benjamin was latching properly and did not have lip tie. I was discouraged but kept on breastfeeding. I dreaded my son eating. It brought me to tears. I would hear my son cry because he was hungry and I would instantly panic. I did not want to feed him. It would be 40 minutes of hell. I used nipple creams, massaged my breasts, and did anything I could to make my breasts feel better.

 

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After three weeks of breastfeeding, I had gone to three lactation consultants. The last lactation consultant I went to said I had a rare hormonal imbalance. She said that it was extremely unusual and made it burn to breastfeed. This made me cry. I sobbed. Of course I had the rare hormonal imbalance. There was a low chance of getting PUPPS while pregnant. I had that. There was a low chance of my natural birth failing. That happened. Now this. I could not take it. I felt like a complete failure. My body was not working right, and I felt like I failed my son.

 

“Formula is not that bad,” the lactation consultant told me.

 

“He is not getting formula,” I said through gritted teeth. “I am fighting for him. For me. We are going to do this. I got formula and I have eczema and high rates of breast and ovarian cancer. If I can help reduce my son’s likelihood of eczema than I’m going to. For years I cried myself to sleep because the itching was so bad from eczema. That’s not happening. Even if breast milk will just help lessen the severity of his eczema. It is not an option.”

 

“I do not know what to tell you,” she said.

 

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I left her angry. At her. At God. At myself. I wanted to curl up in a ball and die. Everyone around me was saying that formula would not be that bad. That is was okay if breastfeeding did not work out. My husband was the only one who encouraged me to make it through. I went online looking for answers, and I found a community of exclusive pumpers. These women pumped for 3, 6, 9, 12 months! These women were able to give their babies milk. For the first time in a month I was encouraged and happy. I was excited.

 

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For hours I read everything I could about exclusive pumping. My mother-in-law went to Target to get me a pump. Every two hours for the next three months I pumped. My body worked! Milk was plentiful! I produced 50 ounces a day! I was able to become a milk donor and help mothers who were unable to produce enough milk for their babies. I felt like my body could finally do something right. The nights were hard and sleepless. I was constantly tired, but I was determined. Everything I did had to be scheduled around my pumping. I pumped in the car, in my college classes, and anywhere else I had to. I had no shame. Hell, I was proud. I was proud that my son was getting breast milk. Screw anyone else who thought negatively of what I was doing!

 

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After four months of pumping, I started pumping every three hours. At ten months, I pump five to six times a day. I sleep through the night and pump accordingly during the day. My son has exclusively received breast milk for these nine months. I have been able to donate over 1,800 ounces through Human Milk 4 Human Babies. Exclusively pumping made me love my body again, helped me heal from postpartum depression, and has helped me have a healthy boy. He has always been above average in weight, height, what he does, and he has yet to get sick.

 

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Exclusive pumping is not an easy journey. There are a lot of sleepless nights, times that you do not want to pump, and times you hate being tied to a machine. But I look at my son and it is all worth it. I do not regret my decision one bit. I hope with my next baby that breastfeeding will work out, but I know that if it does not that exclusively pumping is a viable option.

 

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Chasity

Comments

  1. Jessica Dengord says:

    Such an inspiration! Well done, that’s amazing!!

  2. How do I connect with the community of exclusive limpets?

  3. This was so encouraging! With my firstborn, I pumped exclusively for 3 months until we could finally get him to latch, and then I nursed and pumped for 18 months. My current baby is unable to latch so I’ve been exclusively pumping for 7+ months. Some days, I think I’m out of my mind…but then I read something like this and it makes me realise I’m not alone…or as crazy as I thought! :)
    Thank you!

  4. Chasity Boatman says:
  5. Well done mama! Great job!

  6. Finally someone I can identify with 100%. I exclusively pumped for 9 months, no formula needed. Had around 15 milk baby’s (I call them that way), and produce 1/2 gallon daily.

  7. What is the safest and healthiest way to lose weight while pregnant?

    • You shouldn’t be trying to lose weight while pregnant unless your OB advises it. Now is not the time to be losing weight, if you’re careful about what you gain, regulate your diet so that you are only taking in the amount of calories needed, but DO NOT DIET! You will deprive baby of nutrients and yourself as well. IF your OB does want you to lose weight, they will tell you exactly how to do it.

  8. Holly Sowa says:

    Good job! Keep on pumping! I too exclusively pumped for 11 months. I had enough saved that I was able to stop that last month and still only give BM. I really wanted to EBF, but 5hrs after my c-section I was finally able to meet my son and he wanted nothing to do with the breast and preferred the bottle. I cried every day for months when I would try to breast feed him only to have him scream and refuse… Until I finally resigned to the fact that at least I was able to stick to my choice to not give him any formula by pumping! With my second son, the exact opposite happened. He is a great nurser and wants nothing to do with a bottle (whole other set of challenges now that he’s In Daycare and I’m at work). Proud of you momma!

  9. Thank you for sharing this! I work full time, so around 7.5 months my son decided (with many a tantrum) that he didn’t want me anymore, he wanted the bottle. It was really depressing, and I’ve been struggling through exclusively pumping for the past three weeks. Mostly the mental hurdles of hating pumping and having to force myself to do it. This has really given me quite a lot of inspiration, so thank you again! 3 months, 2 weeks until his 1st birthday. I can do this.

  10. I can relate completely! I had planned a water birth for my daughter, but after 17 hours of induced labor I had to had to have a c-section. I was so depressed! I cried and cried before, during, and after the surgery. I felt like a failure. Then came the breastfeeding. She had issues latching because my nipples were flat and at times inverted. I met with a lactation specialist multiple times during my 5 day stay, and yet we couldn’t get it to work. I was constantly in pain, she was hungry and losing weight. I dreaded the thought of feeding her because it was a horrible experience. The nurses suggested I supplement with formula to get her weight back up, and I downright refused. I told them she will NOT be on formula unless I don’t produce what she needs. My husband seemed to be the only one to back me on it. Everyone told me formula is not bad! I had been given a pump before she was born and I thought I’d give it a try. I produced! She ate and was happy. I was happy because she got the best stuff for her body. I started pumping every two hours; it didn’t matter where I was (especially in the car and other people’s homes). At first I thought I was going to lose my mind, but it got easier (and I was determined to not have her on any formula). We are approaching her 3 month mark and going strong. I now pump every 3-4 hours and produce plenty for her and another! I have a freezer full of milk for her and am probably going to start donating some.

  11. A beautiful & motivating message for the many who cannot nurse their babies but still want the benefits of breast milk for their little ones!!! I have 11 month old twins and pumped exclusively for 6 months and then continued until 10. It is an amazing gift that we can give our children and I wish I had read your story earlier. Well done mama!

  12. Awesome job, momma! I pumped for my daughter for 13 1/2 months. Sometimes I get down on myself for not making it to my goal of 15 months (which would be 1 year adjusted age since my daughter was 3 months premature), but then I force myself to realize what an insane goal that was! Any amount of pumping you can do after breastfeeding doesn’t work out is heroic in my mind. I had the reverse problem that you had – pumping was painful and breastfeeding was not – but due to my daughter’s health problems, she was never able to get enough nutrition from breastfeeding. Keep up the great work!

  13. Wow what amazing determination you all have! It is inspiring me to get back out my pump. I currently EBF my four month old and I can’t go anywhere without him because I’ve been refusing to pump. My right breast doesn’t even make milk any more, but maybe if I start pumping it I can get it back in service and even make extra. I read about the huge need for milk for preemies so you mamas who donate are amazing! Formula is NOT an equivalent at all and it’s so awesome to read from others who agree with me. Formula is like McDonald’s and human milk like fresh vegetables. No comparison!!! You have all greatly inspired me that I can pump and make extra for my son and maybe other babies, too. Human Milk Banks of North America need it!

  14. Allie Reese says:

    Your story is so amazing & encourages me to keep going when I just feel like giving up! I exclusively pump because my 1 month old daughter just refuses to latch on. Lately I’ve been having problems with my supply so I’ve been forced to supplement with formula. I feel like I’m failing my daughter & myself. This was not what I had planned before giving birth to her. It is slowly starting to get better day by day but it is so hard! I keep telling myself I will NOT give up! Thank you for sharing your story

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this!! I have been EPing for 5 1/2 months and starting to get discouraged but you have sparked a new fire & for that I am grateful!! You are a true badass!!

  16. mary beth says:

    I wish I had read this story 3 months ago. I had a very similar problem while trying to breastfeed my daughter. I did try to pump but the damage was done. I never produced enough milk. And after 5 weeks, I woke up one day, completely dry on my right side. Maybe if I had tried harder it wouldn’t have happened.

    you a true inspiration.

  17. How inspiring and successful you are! Thank you for the motivation and encouragement you provide for other women! I would love to hear more from you.

  18. Great job! I’m so sad for all you went through but so happy you worked so hard! Proud of your hubby too!

  19. This is awesome! I have two daughters. First was breastfed for 9 months and weened herself off and then with the second I aspired to make it to at least 6months. When daughter number 2 didn’t want to latch on I cried for the first week and then came up with a plan. Like you I found the blog about Mommy’s that exclusively pump. It helped a lot! Empowering. Exclusively pumping is very difficult and tiring. I did it for 4.5 months straight for my 2nd daughter. That pump was my new husband, I Took it everywhere. I too pumped at work, at school, Disneyland, the mall and in my car. And one day I had my daughter in my lap and breast out ready to pump and I thought ” I should just try” and like magic she took it. It hurt at first because babies are much more efficient at draining milk then pumps are but oh my goodness I was so excited I didn’t care. I am happy to say I was able to breast feed my daughter til 13months.

  20. Chris Hardamo says:

    My baby is seven weeks old. At first I was having pain during breast-feeding. I got a nipple shield and that worked wonders. But now when I pump, that hurts. Do you have any suggestions?

  21. I’ve been trying to nurse my 5-week old but it doesn’t seem to be working despite the many times I’ve had a lactation consultant help me. I’ve been pumping every 1.5-2hours daily but only produce 11-13 ounces daily. I’ve tried taking fenugreek, mother love milk plus, beer, etc., but can’t seem to increase my output to the level where many of you are able to. It is so discouraging! Any ideas on how you get my supply to 30 ounces/day?

    • Hey Kim! Have you tried eating a lot of flax and oatmeal? My son is 3 months now, but around the one month mark I got a yeast breast infection which made my milk supply dwindle for a good week. I just pumped amd pumped even when nothing came. I cried so often thinking that my breastfeeding journey might be coming to an end at a measly 4 weeks. Luckily he took my pumped milk in a bottle, and slowly my milk came back. I was so happy – until the 2 month mark. I actually had to have a core-needle biopsy on a non-breastfeeding related lump in my right breast. Because of the tissue samples they retrieved it messed with my ducts and really negatively impacted my milk production – even MORE than the infection believe it or not. As in, no milk. In either breast. My baby WAILED when I would attempt to feed him because he was getting air! I was devestated again and emotionally exhausted (on top of obvious physical exhaustion). This time, I decided to do more research into foods that might help. I noticed that flax, garlic, carrots and oatmeal were high on the list. So I started eating oatmeal three times a day, with flax in it each time. The nice part is , oatmeal is fantastic for us anyway and also help with weight loss! I also snacked on carrots all day long and began taking oderless garlic. Within two days I was completely back in business, on BOTH SIDES. I can’t even describe my elation. It was amazing how quickly my milk supply came back with full force and I went through more breast pads than ever suddenly. I was MANUALLY (and by manually I mean squeezing with my hands) pumping 4 oz. easily after each feeding. Didn’t even need a pump. I am still going strong, and still eating all these foods, often. Try brewers yeast in a shake too- that’s something else I tried and noticed a huge difference. It’s bitter, but worth the results! I hope this helps you in some way – my heart goes out to you! Hugs

  22. Patricia says:

    Good job! Well done!
    Glad to know that I am not alone. My daughter was born 9 weeks too early. Since that day I kept on pumping. She has got several problems with drinking and eating. She will be 11 months next week an did not need formula. So I will keep on pumping until she finally will not need milk anymore ;-)

  23. This was such an inspiration to read! It sounds just like my story behind my decision to exclusively pump!
    Thanks for sharing!
    For anyone out there who has any questions about breast pumps or breast pump accessories, this is a great site that I found and bought my breast pump through. It has great info on each pump and helped me decided which pump was best for me!
    http://onestopbreastpumpshop.com/

  24. Congratulations! What a fabulous job you did for your son. It is amazing what great work breast pumps can do.

  25. I am aways happy to read success stories on exclusively pumping. I have been exclusively pumping for my son for 9 months now and I will continue to do it until he turns 2 or until I have breastmilk to give him. Does the author of this piece still pump? How long did she pump?

    • Hello! So I am home with my 2 week old beautiful baby girl trying to read blogs and posts on other moms who have chosen exclusive pumping, “Eping” as some sites call it. I am trying to put myself at ease, wipe away the guilt of giving up on breast feeding to exclusively pump. I too had a c section and post op in the hospital the latching went pretty well, took a couple of days for her and I to figure it out but the La Leche lady said I was doing great! By the end of her first week home I was on the verge of tears and cursing, cringing, holding my breath every time i breast fed. The first week home my nipples began to hurt more and more each day I breast fed. I too cringed when she cried because she was hungry, was stressed during the couple hours between feedings anticipating the pain that was coming. My baby girl fussed when she ate because I was uncomfortable and tense. The bonding experience was ruined because i was in pain. It was the weekend and my instincts knew I could not do this anymore. I was concerned about it affecting the production of my milk, her not getting enough and not gaining weight. With great guilt I decided to exclusively pump after reading about it and it has been a life saver. Yes I have given up only a week into it but I feel better, she is sleeping better and I feel better knowing she is getting enough milk. Yes it is hard work to be pumping around the clock but knowing my baby girl is getting what I made for her puts me at ease knowing I am still able to give her the best I have. The next hurdle is figuring this pumping schedule out when I return to work in 6 weeks but I am determined to do this as long as possible! Thank you for your story, sometimes us momma’s need to do what is best for our babies even though our guilt of doing it “perfect” weighs heavy on us.

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  27. I exclusively pump and I am trying to reconcile what I should do: feed on demand ( traditional breast feeding) or feed every 3 hours or so as they do with a bottle. Do you have any thoughts. My son is going through a 6 mo growth spurt

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