Mobility Saved My Pumping Journey
Exclusively Pumping: Harder than I Imagined
This post is written in partnership with Medela who sent me a breast pump in exchange for opinion and experience. My blog contains only my honest opinions.
“I’m not sure how long I can do this- plugged into the wall multiple times a day while trying to keep the kids safe and occupied.” Tears were streaming down my face when I broke down to my husband. When we figured out that direct breastfeeding wouldn’t be an option for her, the world of exclusively pumping was introduced. Exclusively pumping turned out to be more difficult than I ever could have imagined. I felt torn. I wanted to provide my daughter with breastmilk to the best of my ability, but I also didn’t want to sacrifice our time together and my own mental state. There had to be a way to make it more manageable and enjoyable. Sure, I already had a hands-free pumping bra, but still, I needed to be mobile to keep up with my kids.
Whether you pump full time or part-time, you know the breastmilk you provide isn’t “free.” It comes from hours of planning, washing, feeding, packing, and pumping. It comes from remembering to have all of your parts if you’re leaving home. It comes from choosing your clothing carefully and timing your outings accordingly. It comes from using your work break or child’s naptime to pump. It means taking care of each precious ounce and explaining to caretakers how to do the same. It’s a labor of love, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work to make it more manageable and enjoyable for ourselves and other moms.
At first, I didn’t even know mobile pumping was an option. I assumed, like many women, that a pump needs to be big, bulky, and attached to the wall. I calculated 15-20 minutes for each feeding I was pumping for and saw myself losing independence and precious time with my kids. The more I learned, the more I was relieved. With a little digging, I found that companies like Medela are empowering moms through their pumping journeys.
Need to Make Breast Pumping Easier for My Life
I think we all hit a point where we know we have to have something to help us continue the pumping journey. For me, it was my daughter’s surgery date approaching and knowing we would be in the hospital for a week or so. I needed mobility. I needed to be present for every doctor coming into the room. I needed to be able to multi-task effectively.
Enter the Medela Freestyle into my pumping story. Medela is a name I already trusted. Their Pump In Style is the first pump I used and the Symphony got me through our NICU stay. Not only that, but I was already using a number of pumping and feeding accessories from Medela, so it was a natural fit.
Prior to its arrival, I had a few questions:
Would the battery life be too short?
Would the suction be comparable to my larger pump?
Would it be too bulky to actually carry around with ease?
As soon as it arrived, I was quick to test it. Setting it up was easy (thank goodness because I am not a fan of multi-step instruction manuals!)
Now I can often be found tucking or clipping the pump into my back pocket as I go about my day (yes, it’s small enough!)
My output in a pumping session is equivalent to my larger pump (and sometimes I get more out of a pumping session because I don’t have to stop to get up and chase a toddler then try to reconnect.)
The adjustable suction is great for women who are used to direct feeding or women who are more regularly using the pump.
The battery lasts me 3 days on average (using it multiple times a day) and the recharge is quick between pumps.
Fast forward to pumping while cooking, cleaning and pushing my toddler on the swing. These days include pumping as I am getting the kids ready in the morning and cleaning up in the evenings. Do the kids want to go to the park or meet up with friends? It’s not a problem because I don’t have to be back in 3-4 hours just to pump. It’s not perfect- pumping is a labor of time and energy and organization, but being mobile while pumping sure does beat being stuck to the wall. I’ve pumped in the car, on a walk, in our backyard, at the hospital, at family gatherings and all without being confined to the wall.
Tips for Being Successful at Breast Pumping
When new moms ask me how to successfully breast pump for an extended time, my top answer is mobility. Being tied to the wall and having time “sucked” out of me quickly started to make me feel discouraged and resentful. Pumping felt like a full-time job and I struggled thinking about what I was missing out on by being tied to the pump. The shift to mobile pumping not only was a physical shift but a mental and emotional one too. No longer does pumping taking away from my time with my family. No longer does it keeping me stuck on the couch. No longer does it control the timeline of my day.
While mobility has been the top factor for me in overcoming pumping struggles, the second biggest factor is support. We get tired. We get frustrated. We have dips in supply. We feel “pumped out.” There’s no ideal amount of time to pump, but at any point, support can make all of the difference. Need to track your pumping time or volume? My Medela App gives you a way to keep tabs on it all from your phone. And when you need to troubleshoot or hear from others? Mom’s Room Breastfeeding Support creates a safe space for you.
If you’re a pumping mom- whether exclusively or partially, find ways to make it mobile for you. There are numerous resources and products designed just for this. We reduce the stigma and educate others on their options by finding ways to make it work for us, uniquely. Find your way and be proud of the commitment you’re making! You’re a great mom.