This is the story of Kathy's exclusively pumping journey. It only covers the first six months, but she went on to EP for almost a year. Perhaps I'll see if I can get her to write about her weaning experience and reflections on exclusively pumping, but for now here's her story...
After the birth of my baby, we tried breastfeeding for five days. During this time, my baby would become very upset and angry during feeding and didn’t appear to ever be satisfied. Whilst still in hospital, I saw a large number of midwives and breastfeeding peer support staff who confirmed that my baby was latched on correctly. However, I was still experiencing a lot of pain and my baby was not happy. We began supplementing with formula and I began expressing after every feed in an attempt to boost my supply.
At five days old, we left the hospital and the problems continued. I then met with a midwife who came to my home and everything changed for the better. She told me to do what I felt was right (which is the best advice I have ever received), and confirmed that exclusively pumping is in fact possible if I wished to do so, when I had previously been told it was not.
The next day I made the decision and went shopping to buy my first electric breast pump. I immediately began pumping and bottle feeding my baby. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I finally felt like I could enjoy my baby. I was so happy that my husband could bond with our baby too by helping with her feeding. He was a huge support for me and encouraged my journey into exclusively pumping.
As a mother in the UK exclusively pumping is somewhat unusual. Medical staff do not offer support as they appear to know little about it. Being told that it isn’t possible to maintain a supply using a breast pump was hard for me to hear. However, they were wrong. I found a number of online groups for women who EP and I was amazed at how many other women do what I do. I wasn’t alone!
The best advice I received was to “never quit on a bad day”. This is so true. When EPing, bad days do happen, such as when I find it hard to look after baby, pump and do the housework, but then I remind myself why I am doing this. A quick look at my baby to see how much she is thriving confirms that I am doing the right thing.
Also, I was advised to purchase a double electric pump. I was reluctant to do this due to the costs involved. However, it was the best thing I ever did! It literally cut my pumping time in half. Definitely worth the money!
When I started this journey my goal was to give my baby breast milk for one month. This goal has been extended a number of times and now at 6 months I have close to 900oz stored in my freezer and I have been able to exclusively feed my baby my breast milk since she was a week old. It is possible!