A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Brooke’s journey from exclusive pumping to breastfeeding

By Brooke Ashlynn Ritter

I have a 6 month old little girl and she is exclusively nursed. I own my own sewing business and I listen to you guys (Abby and Dianne at the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast) basically every single time I’m up late nights sewing my little heart out. I am so proud to be a nursing momma! My son who is now 2 1/2 had many issues nursing when he was born (he was born at 37 weeks due to ICP) and so I ended up exclusively pumping for him for 18 MONTHS. It was so hard and I still have no idea how I pulled that off! I can not tell you how relieved and overjoyed I am to be able to nurse my daughter and NEVER PUMP! I am a work from home mom so my daughter is always with me and so I never have to pump. In fact, if I never have to pump again I think I would be okay.

I will say one thing I really struggled with when my daughter was born was trusting my body and trusting the process. My son never efficiently transferred milk (even after a tongue and lip tie revision that we couldn’t have done until he was 3 weeks old due to him being early and in the NICU with jaundice) and I was CONVINCED my daughter would have the same issues. I came in SO hot when I was buying baby stuff for her – I got new pump parts, bottles, storage bags, sterilizers…the whole nine yards. Not even thinking I might not need this stuff again. I couldn’t get over the fact that I couldn’t tell how much she was eating when she nursed. I literally think I had some sort of trauma from pumping for so long – I counted every single ounce for 1.5 years and now I had no idea what my daughter was consuming. It was extremely hard to let go. I was also pumping in between all my feeds with her and creating this huge oversupply because I couldn’t fathom the possibility that I didn’t need to pump. It was a mess.

After visiting with an IBCLC, she basically told me (in a very sweet and non dismissive way) to CHILL OUT and try and trust the process. So I cut back on pumping, using my Hakka, counting…and I trusted the process and here we are. My baby is thriving. The LC I saw said that she sees this type of anxiety with moms who previously EP’ed all the time. It’s very hard for us to let go of that mindset that we can count and measure everything.

I think it would be super useful to have an episode about nursing after pumping exclusively – either for NICU moms with NICU babies or for moms that had to EP for a previous baby due to whatever reason. It was so hard for me to let go and I know I can’t be the only one with this struggle!

Here’s Jackson, my son, when he was born at 37 weeks! He’s getting some extra TLC in the light box for jaundice.

Here’s what pumping did to my nipples almost every single day. I would pump blood often. I would get clogs because of oversupply (I responded WAY too well to a pump I think, I literally could not get the milk to CHILL OUT and stop coming in such huge volumes). Long term pumping is a pain in the butt because it can really tear up your nipples, too.

I kept track of every single pump. This is my total pumped when I weaned from the pump at exactly 18 months. My last pump was on 10/2/20!!! I donated to a few long term donees, my nephew being my biggest donee. He was fed with my milk until his first birthday – my sister has had low supply with all 3 of her children (PCOS and IGT) and my nephew was the only one who never needed formula thanks to my excess milk! So amazing! So proud I got to do that. 

This is me pumping AT MY BACHELORETTE PARTY!!! I pumped literally anywhere anytime. On my wedding day in my wedding dress even. Anywhere from 8-5 times a day up until I started weaning and cutting back! And yes, that’s a Jell-O shot.

And here is a pic of me nursing my daughter. We are almost 7 months into exclusively nursing at this point!!! It was so hard to get past that pumping mindset that I developed after pumping for my son for 18 months…I’m so happy I did though and found you guys to help me along the way!

When I was exclusively pumping with my son, I was in several EP support groups on Facebook and a couple of them had over 20 and 30 THOUSAND members! Exclusively pumping is becoming so common these days. Many moms had babies that were born with clefts or were micro preemies or had other major or minor NICU stays, some moms were victims of CSA and felt that pumping allowed them to breastfeed while still maintaining a certain amount of control and bodily autonomy, and many more other unique situations. And many moms struggled with lack of support or had babies that were tongue/lip tied and never were able to overcome those issues and so turned to pumping because they still didn’t want to give up. It’s so so common. But it makes it so hard to get back to breast and let those feelings of control go.