We don’t need the drama.
Ladies, listen. When I became a new mom, I didn’t realize that there would be a dramatic debate around every decision I made. There is so much drama. Feeding, sleep training, vaccination; you will find an “expert” on every subject who will tell you why you’re not doing it the right way. It’s overwhelming. A word of advice: don’t bring the formula vs. breastfeeding nonsense into your life. Just don’t do it. Breastmilk is great, but guess what? Formula is a great option, too. Don’t let yourself or anyone else make you feel guilty for the choice you make! It is YOURS!
I wanted to breastfeed so badly, but it simply didn’t work out for us. Izzy would never latch, and I finally threw in the towel. It wasn’t worth the energy and grief. I exclusively pumped for eight months, giving Izzy enough milk to last her first 18 months. It was my choice, and I am pretty damn proud that I did this for my daughter. I received a lot of judgment for this decision.
People thought I was crazy for putting so much effort into making sure Izzy got breastmilk. Looking back, I was probably a little extra in the whole process, but it was what I wanted to do at the time. You need to do what is best for you and your baby. Do your research. Ask a lot of questions. Talk to nurses, lactation consultants, friends, relatives, neighbors. Everyone is different. You need to pick the path that is best for you! Don’t let anyone shame you with the decision you make.
The point is, the nutrition your child receives as a baby won’t guarantee complete health or a super high IQ. They are babies. There are zero guarantees on ANYTHING! That’s why it is so important to do what is best for you and your baby. Weigh all your options and make the decision that is right for you. There’s no shame in your game, no matter how you decide to play it. As long as your baby is fed and loved, he or she is going to be just fine.
As I said, I was one of these crazy women that decided to pump exclusively. I’m not saying that everyone who does this is insane, but I certainly know that I was a little nuts. Well, in reality, I had severe postpartum anxiety, and pumping gave me another outlet to obsess over besides my baby.
If I had taken medicine or had a few drinks requiring me to “pump and dump,” I would keep that shit. I made lotion and diaper rash cream and used it every way I could find on the internet! Looking back, it was a little weird, but I worked hard for that stuff! Like crazy hard, y’all.
Chained to the Pump.
Pumping contributed to my postpartum anxiety, especially at first. I was still trying to breastfeed, so I would attempt to nurse Izzy, then give her a bottle, then pump, then put the milk away and wash pump parts, then it was time to feed her again. It was a vicious cycle. With that schedule, there wasn’t a whole lot of time for sleep or self-care.
Pumping required a minimum of 3 hours out of my day, probably a lot more than that when you figure in all the washing, cleaning, bagging, freezing, etc. I had an app (yes, there is an app for everything) to track my output and how much milk I was able to stash in the freezer. I didn’t start using the app (because I had no idea there even was such a thing) until October 23, 2018. Izzy was already almost three months old at this point, so I only have data for five months of pumping. In those five months, I pumped for a total of 10 days, 15 hours, and 40 minutes. WTF??
My pumping story is a prime example of the importance of doing what is best for your baby but also considering yourself. I’m very proud of myself for providing Izzy with breastmilk, even now. Still, I probably could have saved myself a lot of grief, especially when I was battling severe postpartum anxiety and extreme sleep deprivation.
Whatever decision you make, mama, I applaud you. You are amazing, and your baby is lucky to have you!