My name is Laura Deznan, although many people know me better as @theexclusivepumpingmom. I have been blessed with two amazing girls, and each of them has led me on a pumping journey. While most people may think of exclusive pumping as a choice, I know that to many moms it wasn't a choice at all.
Let’s start at the beginning – what does it mean to EPing or exclusively pump? To me, it means breastfeeding without bringing the baby to the breast. It means that I never nurse and my daughter gets my milk only through a bottle. I call this bottle nursing.
Exclusive pumping has its challenges:
Time: I spend 30 minutes extracting milk from my breasts with my pump, then spend another 30 minutes feeding my daughter. I then wash all the pump parts so that I am ready to do the process again a few hours later.
Equipment: I also need to carry a pump and baby bottles around everywhere I go. I always pack a diaper bag AND a pump bag when I leave the house.
As you can imagine, exclusively pumping can be exhausting and frustrating–but in the end, it is absolutely worth it. It has been the most difficult and most rewarding thing I have ever done for another person. While I didn’t like being hooked up to a pump every 2-3 hours, keeping my daughter on breast milk made it all worthwhile. Eping helped me reach my breastfeeding goals. While it may not look like the breastfeeding journey many women know, it was ours, and we owned it!
Why did I exclusively pump? I know that most of the moms I know would have preferred standard breastfeeding, but weren't able due to a number of complications.
Eping is by no means an easier option to breastfeeding. I encountered repeated clogged ducts and several bouts of mastitis. Babies are best at emptying the breast - it's a fact. Even though I had a hospital-grade pump, it was no match for a real baby, and I dealt with three blocked ducts a week. Thankfully I found sunflower lecithin - my saving grace! Taking this daily reduced the number of blocked ducts, and I highly recommend it.
When you exclusively pump and your little one wakes at night, you have to warm up a bottle. Some Eping moms who have low milk supply are pumping and then feeding their baby in the middle of the night. A breastfeeding mom simply lifts her shirt and allows them to nurse (no extra parts or prep necessary). Pumping is time-consuming, expensive, and exhausting. This is absolutely not an easier option and the fact that I did this for a year, while working a full time job, amazes me still.
Despite the difficulties, there are some amazing positive aspects to being an exclusive pumper:
You can see exactly how much your baby is eating, giving you peace of mind.
Using a breast-like bottle such as mimijumi, other carers can feed your baby and give you a rest. (Until it's time to pump again!)
There is a certain freedom with being a pumping mom. I felt like I could leave to go out with the ladies and that my daughter would be completely fine with her grandparents.
TEETHING. Boy, do you appreciate the fact that you pump and feed when your baby starts teething. I would hear other moms speak about their little ones biting them, but I never had to overcome that obstacle. I am so thankful!
Going back to work was easier because I had a pumping schedule down that worked. Having an already established schedule eased our transition.
My baby was able to drink breast milk for longer. After a year of pumping, I had enough frozen milk to last my baby until she was 20 months old! Being able to provide that for my daughter made me feel like a supermom.
I was also able to help other babies. I had so much milk that I was able to donate 2,000oz! I love that I was able to do this for babies who needed it.
There are so many reasons why women come to this option. Many mothers end up in this position because their child was in the NICU and was never able to latch after accepting a bottle. Their little ones are not strong enough yet to nurse, and these mothers must pump around the clock to give their babies their liquid gold.
Some babies are born with a cleft palate, have latch issues that are not resolved, tongue and lip tie problems and so much more. My insurance company wouldn't cover a lactation consultant, but it would cover a breast pump.
I’m proud to say that there is fantastic support for exclusively pumping moms. There is a group of moms who do exclusively pump. They are thriving and they are warriors. They are doing the best they can, even though at moments they have every desire to throw that pump against the wall out of frustration. And just like any other breastfeeding mother, they need support and love from their tribe. Pumping moms are breastfeeding moms -- and they are all amazing in my eyes.
Happy Breastfeeding Week, You No Boob Feeding Breastfeeders!