When we think of breastfeeding, we probably all think of the same image, right? The baby latched on to its mother’s boob, suckling away. But what if I told you that wasn’t the only way to breastfeed? What if I told you there were actually many other ways to breastfeed your baby, including the method I chose- Exclusive Expressing/Pumping.
I stumbled onto EP by accident really, I had no idea that it was a viable feeding option, much less a conscious decision that many parents made. When my son was born in March 2020 (remember that absolutely insane month?) we were right at the start of the lockdown, in the tight restrictions that stopped any medical professionals visiting us at home. I was struggling with severely cracked nipples, a blocked duct, mastitis, and what was later confirmed to be (at the ripe old age of 2), a baby with a tongue tie. All on my own. As much as I tried to muddle through, without that practical hands on support, a nursing journey was off the table for me- my mental health was more important, and it was in danger of slipping with every feed. So I started supplementing with pumped milk until eventually, I found I was pumping every feed. And the world didn’t end, my kid was utterly thriving, and he was still receiving breast milk. It was always so important to me that I do everything in my power to have a breastfeeding journey, but I always maintained that it would never be at the expense of my mental or physical health- so I was really pleased to have discovered this alternative method. And while it worked really well for us, don’t get me wrong- the pump life is HARD. Your life is now consumed by schedules and quantities of milk, fitting the pump into your life without letting it take over is a fine art and not one that I always got right. I often say that the EP life is all the worst bits of nursing and formula feeding combined- you still deal with cracked nipples, milk quality, and supply dips, but now you’re also dealing with sterilising and pace feeding too. But it’s not without its benefits.I loved knowing how much my son had had to drink, and feeling secure that I was making enough to meet his needs. I also loved that I could stop pumping when he turned a year, but had built a strong enough freezer stash to feed him breast milk up until 18 months old. Yes I had to pump in some strange places- a beach hut, the table at Pizza Express, and even the steps of the statue opposite Buckingham Palace- and I’ve found myself defending my choice more often than I’d have liked, but ultimately, I didn’t care. I made a choice for my family, and it was 100% the correct one. If you’d like to ask me anything more about my journey or for any pump life advice, you can find me at @the.confidentmama- I love answering questions!