Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Adventures in Breastfeeding: Pumping Is Over

After 14 months of hard work and dedication, the pumping days are over, finished,
done.  Since Brees was only a few days old, I have faithfully used my breast pump, both
when I was home with her and when I was away at work.  In the beginning, when I was
on maternity leave, I pumped 1-2 times daily, helping to relieve my engorgement
and ensuring my baby girl would have an adequate supply of milk in the freezer when I
went back out into the workforce.  At work and on the few occasions I was away from her,
I pumped every 3 hours like clock work, never missing a beat.  I developed a system
and stuck to it even on days where I felt exhausted by the whole process.  I lugged that
big black bag and my ice cooler around like they were bonus extremities, bought an
extra freezer when my Mommy's Milk baggies took over the storage space.  I pumped in
my car, in public restrooms, at amusement parks, in hotels.  It was a part of my daily
routine, a necessity to achieve my goal of breastfeeding my daughter for at least the first
year of her life.
Brees and I did more than just achieve our goal: we extended it.  15 months old and we
are still going strong, still enjoying the bond we both hold so dear.  All of the hard
work involved with my pumping schedule has paid off because Brees has been able to
be exclusively breastfed despite the fact that she has a mama who works outside the
home.  That is something I am incredibly proud of, a fact I consider one of my greatest
mama achievements.  Many people assumed that since I work outside the home and
spend time away from my baby each day, breastfeeding would not be a long term
possibility.  But Brees and I are living proof that if you do your research, develop a plan
of action, and surround yourself with a support team, long term breastfeeding is not
just a possibility, it is a reality.
So why did I decide to stop pumping?  Well, my boobs actually decided for me.  At around
the one year mark, I started noticing a decrease in the amount I was pumping at each
session.  My routine was the same, I was adequately hydrated, but my body was
naturally producing less milk due to the decreased demands of my growing, solid food
eating child.  I started pumping more often and for longer periods of time, hoping to
stimulate my milk production and continue pumping the ample amount I was used to.  I
soon realized, however, that my body was simply reacting to the natural evolution of
Brees' appetite.  Brees and I are down to 4-5 feedings a day now that she is eating 3 full
meals of solid foods.  She is sleeping through the night and is no longer using me as a
snack source.  Her nursing sessions are shorter as her body now needs less milk.  And so
it was only natural that my body began reacting to the pump in very much the same
way: decreasing from 4 ounces a pump session to 2 oz, then 1 oz, until one day I was
barely able to get anything at all.
I had imagined that when this day came I would feel sad, upset with myself, worried
about our milk supply.  But I didn't.  I looked at my happy, healthy, well nourished baby
and knew that I had done my job.  We still have a pretty large surplus in the freezer to last
us a while and when that eventually runs out, Brees will move to whole milk.  She's
already stolen a few sips from her cousins' bottles so we know the transition will not be
as dramatic as we might think.  I packed up my pump and all my supplies, making
sure everything was clean and organized and ready if we are blessed with another little
And so another phase of the infant stage is over, another piece of our journey has come to
a close.  I am so thankful for the gift my pump gave me: the ability to breastfeed my
baby when I was not physically present to do so.  For all of the stories about
breastfeeding you've heard, let this one serve as a source of encouragement and hope:
you CAN do it, you can make it work.  And no matter what happens, the love you have
for your baby is all the nourishment they need.

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Salma @ Chasing Rainbow said...

*Beautiful girl.*

Great stuff. I am going back to work next week, and at 15 months we are going to go with the flow and see how my nursing goes.

Happy Monday.

Salma @ Chasing Rainbow said...

Ahh, it's Tuesday...we had a holiday here (Canada)yesterday...


Kelley, Brendan and Baby Brix said...

Woo hoo! Great job mama!

Nessa Bixler said...

Go mama! Nice when your body and your baby makes the decisions for you. Amazing how things work like that.

Kara said...

You are a rock star and my inspiration too!

I will be working full time after our little one is born and pumping will be my new routine. I hope to do it for a full year as well!

Anonymous said...

True inspiration for sure......when breastfeeding seems to be feared by many, your testimony is a great lesson of love shared and joy.

Anonymous said...

Woohoo go brees, and go mama for pumping/breastfeeding for so long. You are such a good mama :D

Emily Lum said...

You should be so proud of yourself! I am a stay at home mom who breastfed both of my girls and that was tough enough for me. I don't know if I could have been a working, breastfeeding mom. Good job to you for being so strong, tireless, dedicated and selfless!

Randalin. said...

Congratulations! You are such an inspiration to other working mama's and you must feel so proud of yourself. Seriously - I can't overstate enough how awesome you are!!