6 Months of Pumping: What I Learned about Breastmilk, Parenting, and Myself
March 7, 2016
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February 27th marked six months of exclusively pumping to provide breastmilk to my daughter. This milestone was very important to me, especially given my latching issues immediately after birth. Here is what I have learned along the way.

Breastmilk

Pumping is hard. Not hard like you have bootcamp at 5am (which I recently started), but hard in the sense that you are connecting yourself to a machine 4-6 times a day! Pumping doesn't care about your sleep schedule, meetings at work, or the equipment needed for the process. All that matters is the milk that flows.

That milk, which I have sacrificed many minutes and hours pumping out of my body has exclusively fed my daughter for six months. Just the economic benefits of not having to buy one can of formula makes me smile, but it's not about the money.

It's all about the milk.

Breastmilk is the best choice for our babies. It provides nutrients formula simply can't replicate, and it puts our children on healthier paths. While breastfeeding has become a hot topic, the science behind the milk is clear. I choose to focus on just that, the milk.

Parenting


Pumping has totally transformed my views on parenting. Here is an example. Prior to delivery I was "that" parent that said I didn't believe in the cry it out method. If your baby is crying you need to comfort them. Well in theory that is great. In practice there are times when I have to choose between finishing a pumping session, or jumping to get our daughter whom I know isn't hungry, wet, or sick.

Pumping also affects my relationship with our daughter. Not having the emotional connection of actually breastfeeding leaves me wanting more. I want her to feel my skin, hear my heartbeat, and know that I am providing her food. There are many times this leads to me holding her for no reason as all.

Last, put not least, pumping shaped how our families are involved in our daughter's life. Because I started pumping right away, I have built up a pretty good milk supply. This supply allows our families to spend time with our daughter, and still provide her breastmilk.

Introduce travel, going to concerts, date night! All have been made easier by pumping. It may be the only silver lining to my latch issues.

Myself

As I mentioned before, pumping takes dedication. There are days when I want to stop. I want to go buy some formula, and have a margarita. Yet, I know breastmilk is the best option, and my body has no problem producing it. That has to mean something.

When I learned I was pregnant I knew my world would change; I would never be the same. Yet, nothing anybody tells you prepares you to meet the tiny little human you created, and carried for 40 weeks (and a day). It's magical. And in that magic I learned that having a child changes you, yes, but it's up to you to determine how.

So I work on managing myself as a Black new mom, who pumps. I don't allow any one data point to define how I view myself. I am complex, my views are my own, and that is the only way I will have it.
Written By
Victoria Graham
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Breastmilk
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