I waited a long time to be a Mama. I struggled with infertility for 2 years and was finally pregnant with my miracle through embryo donation, so when people asked me about my birth plan or if I would breastfeed or not, I simply smiled and said, “I just want a healthy baby that is fed”. I didn’t make a birth plan, I just wanted a baby. I know the research says that breastfeeding is the most nutritious way to feed a child, but I was open to anything as long as my baby was thriving. My hope was to breastfeed but I was comfortable with all of my options, I bought some formula to the hospital just in case and took a breastfeeding class to prepare myself, but I never even knew about an option to exclusively pump for my son, until I just started doing it. I then realized there is whole tribe of Mamas that feed their precious little ones with breastmilk through a bottle.
When my son was born via C-section, as soon as I held him nurses began to tell me that I needed to put him to my breast. They encouraged him to latch and told me how to hold him, yet it didn’t feel comfortable to me, I assumed it was because I was still numb in most of my body and I was feeling all the new Mama feelings. I tried again a few hours later when in my delivery room, I held my son in a way that felt comfortable to me and he immediately latched on, I was over joyed and felt proud of myself and him. As it was only a few hours after birth, my milk had not yet come in and my little one was sad, he seemed hungry, but the nurse reassured me that he was ok, just keep helping him latch and a Lactation Consultant would be by shortly.
It was then that my awesome and supportive husband suggested that I pump, he reminded me that in the class we took the lactation consultant said that pumping would help the milk come in faster, so we made a plan to ask the consultant for pump parts when she arrived. However, a different consultant arrived and had a much different approach, she immediately grabbed my baby, moved him into another position and then grabbed my breast and shoved it in his mouth, he latched, but I felt so uncomfortable. I told her this and she said it would feel more comfortable as we got used to each other, my baby was upset and so was I. My husband interrupted and asked for the pump parts and after some disagreements she brought them to us. She showed us how to use everything and I began my pumping journey.
I pumped again a few hours later and some colostrum came out! We were so excited! We took turns feeding our son his first bottle, it was such an amazing feeling to know that I could nourish him! Our son was happy and so were we. I pumped every 2 hours and held my baby the way I wanted to, letting him latch if he wanted to in between sessions. We expressed this to our delivery staff and some were supportive and others suggested that I see a location consultant to get him on my breast.
By the time we got home I was producing more than my son could eat. We didn’t really have a plan, we were just enjoying our new family and doing what worked for us. These days turned into a week and when I saw that my son was thriving and gained weight I decided this was the path for us. I loved being able to see how much he was eating, I was worried about him and his weight as he was a little guy, so this helped me relax. My husband was so excited to be involved, to feed our son, to help me by cleaning supplies and making bottles, he didn’t want all the pressure to be on me.
I am very organized, so I created a pumping schedule that I felt I could handle and just decided to see where it would go, if I needed to supplement with formula, I was ok with it. I researched and joined groups of other Mamas that were exclusively pumping for their babies, most because they didn’t have a choice, but some that were just like me. I learned many tips that made pumping even easier for me.
I wish that more Mamas knew that exclusively pumping can be a CHOICE. It has so many benefits besides being able to give your baby breastmilk, such as, having more time to heal as a new Mama. My husband and family members were able to help me feed my son. I still fed him most of the time, but it was an amazing feeling to know that he was safe and happy with other loved ones. He didn’t need ME and only ME, every second of every day, other people could help, I strongly believe that this helped my recovery. I was a very grateful new Mama, but I was also a very worried new Mama. Infertility scarred me and it was hard to believe that all my dreams had finally come true, so having some time to relax, sleep, eat and shower helped me stay calm and wrap my brain around our new life. The bond with my son is and was unbreakable from the beginning, feeding him through a bottle did not change this. We still snuggled, took naps together and got to know each other, but it was nice to not feel like I was the only person in the world that could help him.
Exclusively pumping helped my new family get on a schedule, our son was thriving and so were we. I am now 10 months postpartum and I pump 2 times a day. I have enough milk in my freezer to feed my baby well after his first birthday. It’s an amazing feeling but don’t get me wrong, like the rest of motherhood exclusively pumping can be difficult, but it was the perfect choice for me. So, if you are struggling with breastfeeding or simply don’t like it (Yes, you can say that) this may be the choice for you too.