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Article on Exclusively Pumping

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Monday, January 14, 2008

There's an article over at Babble today about mothers who choose to exclusively pump. I was interviewed for the article and you'll find several quotes from me.

It's an interesting article. It addresses some of the challenges faced by moms who lead them to EP and some of the problems with EPing in terms of what the baby misses out on. (Proper jaw development is a major one, higher risks for obesity as well.)

Overall, I was pretty pleased with the article. I'm not so thrilled that I came out sounding like I thought pumping was better than direct nursing, but I certainly can't blame that on the reporter who accurately quoted me. Just sort of shows how single sentences can have different tones when taken on their own.

Anyway, I'll be making a post here in the next week or two about my thoughts on EPing verses EBFing, so stay tuned.


  1. Blogger JudyBright | 1:26 PM |  

    So, is this a reason why most people don't have room for their Wisdom teeth? I know it has something to do with the modern lifestyle, but I hadn't heard anything about breastfeeding and jaw development.

  2. Anonymous Anonymous | 4:32 PM |  

    I have been pumping for my 15 month old since he was 2 days old now. I am so upset by this article!! I would love to have my son latch on. I have tried and tried...You that decide to just pump honestly make me sick!! I don't mean to judge but babies need the bonding thats involved in actual breast feeding. To pump so you can go have some drinks at night is selfish! You are sending the wrong message to soo many mothers! Anyone thinking pumping is better- it's not it sucks imagine trying to pump with a toddler running around and lots of bottles to wash! If you can have your baby latch on DO IT!! Breastfeeding is not only nutrition its a bonding experience as well!! Thats why they say BREAST IS BEST!!!

  3. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 5:28 PM |  

    Anonymous, I can imagine how frustrated you feel. For that, I'm sorry.

    That said, you might want to read a little more of my story here on Search Engine Guide before you assume I just "decided" to EP.

    I EPed after a horrible hospital experience and subsequent LC sillyness that led to a daughter who wouldn't latch and endless screaming nights of frustration. I switched to EPing out of desperation to get breast milk into her and ended up continuing for 14 months.

    When I had my son, I was much better informed, had him at home where I could avoid many of the interventions that caused problems with my daughter and ended up being to exclusively breastfeed him. He just weaned about a month ago.

    Looking back, I see pros and cons of each.

    While I understand your frustration with HAVING to exclusively pump, I think many mothers, myself included would not appreciate being told that we did not bond with our children because we pumped. (Or bottle fed.) While I've wrote about the difference in terms of physical bonding brought on by breastfeeding, there was zero difference for me in the emotional bonding between my two children.

    I do not love either more or less and neither loves me more or less because of manner in which they received their breast milk.

    What this blog is about is helping mothers get equipped with real information so they can make the choices that are best for them. If EPing is an option for a mother that allows her to avoid formula, you can darn well bet I'll do my best to support her and educate her.

    And if something happens and she has to use formula? Hey, every last bit of breast milk counts.

    So again, I realize you are frustrated and angry, but perhaps you should consider that one article filled with sound bites tells you very little about the life lived by these women and the events that led any of us to exclusively pump for our children.

    With warm wishes.
    Jennifer (The Lactivist)

  4. Blogger Maria | 6:32 PM |  

    I nursed with an occasional pumping session for the first nine months, but then I went back to work, and now I have a real love-hate relationship with my pump. I love giving my baby breast milk as the "beverage of choice," but I hate spending the 40 minutes or so a day pumping while I am at work. I thought I was going to pump-wean and just nurse, but now I think I have myself convinced I can make it another year. We'll see! LOL!

    Oh, and a big shout out to all of those mom's who exclusively pump (yes, Jen, that includes you)! I think that takes a special level dedication and patience!

    And I'd definitely put myself in the category of doing "what works for you." We co-sleep, NIP, and are nursing beyond one. I have been on the receiving end of some not-so-friendly/strange looks these days.

  5. Blogger Kristina Brooke | 7:04 PM |  

    I exclusively pumped because that is what I wanted to do. After my daughter was born I attempted to breast feed although I knew before that I wanted to EP, but FOR ME EPing WAS better than EBPing.

    My daughter LOVED my milk and really did not like formula. She did not overeat as she ate exactly what she wanted. I pumped for an year and I did not miss out on bonding with my child. You can get the same physical bonding through skin time and other physical interaction.

    I'm sorry Jennifer, but you are being too nice to Anonymous. Anyone who feels the need to ridicule people for their choices is not a nice person.

    Anonymous, you and people like you are the reason so many women say "no" to breast milk altogether. You make people feel inadequate and you do not allow them to choose what is best on an individual level. It sucks that you could not breast feed. But you should be proud of your choice to EP to provide your child with milk. Maybe instead of feeling bitter and disappointed and instead of doing that to others, you should be proud that you have had the stamina and determination to pump for 15 months. Most women don't even breast feed for that long.

    When we we going to stop being so critical of mothers for doing what is right for them?

  6. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 8:50 PM |  


    I don't think I'm being "too nice" to her. I think she's a woman who is very upset (understandably) about not being able to breastfeed and who is venting her frustrations (less understandably) on the easy targets identified by this article.

    I call them as I see 'em here. I could be wrong, but based on a few years of experience here, I really don't think anonymous is directing her anger at me. I just happen to be in the crossfire.

    It also depends on if she's ever gotten to breastfeed or if she's only exclusively pumped.

    I EPed with my first. It wasn't until my second child was born that I got to experience direct nursing. I spent a fair amount of time being bitter about that. I didn't realize it until later, but boy was I bitter.

    For me, it was more being bitter at the judgemental moms who liked to tell me I'd given up to soon, was selling my kid short, or was being selfish. Nothing like working your butt off to pump and seeing the good of that donated milk while being told you're a crappy mom to make you feel good. :-P

    I spent some time wondering if I was missing out. I bought into the propaganda.

    Now that I've had a few more years to think on it and have experienced exclusively and successfully nursing a child, I have a different perspective. I know that I missed out on some things with Elnora by not directly nursing, but I also know that she and I both benefited from EPing in some ways. I don't regret doing it. I also now know that you can bond just fine with your child whether you feed by bottle or breast.

    So again, I understand her anger. Fighting back or calling her names or telling her to go away does nothing to help her, or any of the other moms reading this blog and dealing with the same pain and frustration.

    But sometimes...a little compassion and a little understanding that you might not really be the direct target of such venting can go a long way toward opening up the door.

    Anonymous, I hope you'll stick around here. I hope you'll share more of your story with us and I hope you'll de-cloak and become a named part of this community.

    Everyone is welcome here, as long as they eventually learn to place nice with each other. :) I don't expect a love-fest or a big "everything you do is ok" kind of attitude, but I do expect the posters here to be respectful of each other.

    I'm aiming to show you some respect in the hopes you might show a little back.

  7. Blogger Eilat | 9:23 PM |  

    I feel like there is a middle ground in this discussion. An important one.

    Before I had my son, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. It was a pretty crucial thing for me. I was the first of my friends to have a baby and the only other person I knew with a baby was my sister in law who had a daughter 19 months before I had my son. She is an educated modern woman who planned to breastfeed, not based on some crunchy hippie ideology (more my reasoning), but because she knew it was better from a health perspective. Her daughter was born premature, tiny, and started nursing but was re-admitted to the hospital for jaundice at 1 week. She got bottles of EBM at the hospital and that was it. Her tiny mouth, the easy sucking on the bottle's nipple, nursing was over. My SIL EP'd for 5 weeks. It was hell for her. She felt like she was constantly feeding or pumping or cleaning the pump/bottles. She hated it and stopped after 5 weeks.
    After that she was very defensive about her decision to switch to formula and it was hard to talk to her about anything to do with breastfeeding.

    Another friend of mine had latch issues in the beginning. The LCs at the hospital were divided and gave her confusing mixed advice "pump but don't bottle feed" "pump and feed and nurse". The boy wouldn't latch on one side. She was tired, frustrated, did not get consistent advice, didnt want to be "hooked up to a machine" so she went for formula after about 10 days.

    My point?

    I think the pump is a great thing. It allows nursing moms to go back to work, and it gives women who are able to handle the commitment of EP-ing a choice (e.g., Kristina Brooke) of giving breastmilk over formula.

    But, I do think that the pump is introduced WAY too early, at the earliest difficulty, and it can cause more problems than help. Yes, latch problems can be bad (and some insoluble, for sure) but many latch problems can be worked through. New moms are tired and stressed and very emotional. It is easy to just pump and feed in those early days so you know the baby is getting something, and to give your breasts a rest. Pumping takes the mystery out of breastfeeding, which can be a great relief.

    BUT -- EP-ing requires a HUGE commitment, one that I think most new moms are not fully informed about. So those few bottles of EBM can lead to exasperation and quitting.

    I have known many women who EP through my LLL group. I have seen them "nurse" their babies with a bottle. The love and the bonding is there. No doubt.

    I just worry that the pump is used as a panacea to early breastfeeding problems, without the full disclosure of the commitment that EP-ing takes, and that early introduction of a bottle can force a woman into that commitment without her knowledge.

    So if you are like Kristina Brooke and you EP and you love it and it works for you then AWESOME. But lots of moms end up resenting the whole thing. Hating the pump and the time it takes away from being with their baby. Some women need to pump A LOT to maintain a supply and they feel chained to a machine. Their feelings are valid, and women do deserve to know the full story when they are told to pump, 2 days after their baby is born and the problems arise, about the dark side of EP-ing as well.

  8. Blogger Kristina Brooke | 4:41 AM |  


    You are right. I got really upset because I know how hard it is to EP and I feel like people are so judgemental about the choices that women make and in the end it is detrimental.

    EPing is a great alternative to those who are having difficulties with breastfeeding. It is not easy and takes a lot of patience and planning. Women should be commending for giving their children breastmilk no matter how it is done.

    I really do understand how disappointing it is to want to breastfeed and not be able to- especially since women are made to feel like it has to be one way or another. The lactation consultant that I had in the hospital was horrible to me because I was uncomfortbale trying to nurse my daughter who was in the NICU for a week after coming 4 weeks early. When I explained to her that I would rather have my daughter get breastmilk in a bottle than none at all, she told me that I was being "unbelievable selfish". If I had not known about EPing I would have been turned off to breastfeeing all together.

    At any rate, I apologize for being so angry.

  9. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 6:34 AM |  


    No worries! I know the feeling. One of the things that prompted to me start this blog was the flack I got in parenting forums for Exclusively Pumping. Some of the really hard core breastfeeding moms were harder on me than they were on moms who chose to formula feed from the start.

    I kept thinking "good grief! I'm getting breast milk in her the best way I can!" but it was never good enough. At the time (three years ago) there wasn't much information online about pumping.

    I was blessed to have hooked up with the HMBANA milk bank that was just launching in Columbus. I became one of the first ten donors at the bank. They really knew their stuff in terms of pumping and I was able to call on them to get some great information about building and maintaining a supply.

    I'm fiercely pro-breastfeeding, but I'm also fiercely pro-mom. I firmly believe our battle is about information and support. I've not personally known any mother who truly understood breastfeeding and then said "I think I'll just use formula." I'm sure they are out there, but I've never met any.

    I do, on the other hand, know a TON of women who wanted to breastfeed, but got tanked by bad birth experiences, bad hospital experiences, conflicting advice, and so on. I also know moms who desperately wanted to breastfeed and ended up having to switch to formula.

    Why should I pile on to their guilt? I mean sheesh, you do the best you can and sometimes you fail. That's life, right? But when you support people and you help them learn what they didn't know the first time around, you greatly increase their chances of success the next go round.

    I managed to successfully breastfeed my second child. I know a lot of readers here and some friends in real life that I think will have the same experience.

  10. Blogger Elaine | 8:47 AM |  

    I experienced both bottle feeding with one, and exclusive breastfeeding with my second, and I have to finally admit that my level of attachment, and my childrens' levels of attachment are the same with both. It's easy to feel judgmental because it helps us justify our own decisions. But finally out of the haze of postpartum feelings (16 months later!) and heavy hormones, I have come to the realization that there are a lot of ways to mother, and it's really okay. My intuition tells me that back before the days of formula and bottles, there were still women who not only didn't like nursing, but possibly didn't like it, either. I have a dear friend who has read the books, understands the philosophy, but it just tears her up to be so attached to her baby all of the time and having to sit long sessions to nurse. I know that she is doing the best job she can, but she becomes horribly depressed by extended times attached to her baby. Me, I'm the opposite, but I do believe that if it makes her feel horrible, well, we live in a modern world, and we have to do what we can to survive in it. I used to sit around bemoaning the fact that in our society we no longer live in close proximity to vast amounts of family members who can help us at any hour of the day, but that reality no longer exists (unless you have aunts and uncles and in-laws living with you, I suppose). So, if pumping is what it takes, well, hey, it beats formula, right? It sure beats Mountain Dew in the bottle, as my husband used to see when he was a social worker.

  11. Blogger Ahmie | 8:49 AM |  

    I think I feel the same way about moms who decide they're going to EP before the baby is even born (or in the case of the one mom in that article, before baby #2 is even conceived) the same way I feel about "mother choice" c-sections. I just can't wrap my brain around it, the choice of something hard and sterile and non-human over the lush squishiness of natural birth and breastfeeding. But then again other mothers can't wrap their minds around the idea that I birthed with nothing more than what I'd describe as "discomfort" that was mostly resolved if I moved or soaked in water (well, baby #2 I thought I was re-herniating discs that herniated before pregnancy #1 for a few hours - turned out to be back labor but that was freaking me out a little because of concern over how horrible the recovery from the herniated discs was BEFORE motherhood, the thought of going through that with two little ones here and not wanting to take the meds for it because of breastfeeding was really messing with my head while birthing. Then we got one of those strap on heat pack things on my back and the baby shifted and all was just back to discomfort).

    I have a dear friend who had an "unnecessarian" (I like that term) - emergency c-sec due to fetal heart decels that were in all probability the result of medication my friend got through an IV without consent. Anonymous' anger over the need to EP because of being set up to fail with breastfeeding sounds a lot like my friend's anger over her c-section. Yes, she has a happy, robustly healthy child, but 4 years later she still feels much more than just the incision scar. And yet some women *chose* that kind of birth, with no medical indications, because they think it's more convenient/measurable/predictable/preserves their sexual physical structures/whatever. And the medical community goes along with it, advocates for them in the name of patient's choice. It really boggles my mind - c-section recovery is NOT convenient, it is not tidy, it is not predictable, and it does involve real risks that are less or non-existant with vaginal and/or natural birth. I can understand women who chose medicated births (though I believe it is based upon fears that are fostered by our society and the medical community at the medical communities financial gain, which bugs me), but *to me* making the pre-emptive choice to c-section and/or EP is to dissociate from my humanity to a level bordering on something a qualified psychologist should be consulted about. Making decisions about birth and infant feeding based primarily on convenience and mother's freedom to go out with friends (as it sounded like one or more of the mothers in the article did - not Jen or anyone here) doesn't, to me, bode well for the household's next 18+ years of harmony. I agree that at least a few of the comments in the article sounded downright selfish on the parts of the mothers, to the point that if becoming a mother is such an imposition, why are they bothering? Motherhood is not a hobby that you can put on the shelf if you get bored of it, and sometimes I really do feel like some of my peers (and elders) just don't get that. There's a balance to be found between the mother filling all her desires and whims and the needs of the children - no one should feel like they need to martyr themselves to be a parent, but at the same time being a parent should mean that you're capable of delaying your own gratification when it comes to a want when your child has a clear need. It's not a phenomenon of the last few years, but of the last few decades from what I've observed, of the pendulum swinging more toward women's freedom to do what they want to do over being "tied down" by motherhood, my mother's generation swung that way in a lot of cases and I think it was to the detriment of me and my peers. I'm trying to not reactively swing in the opposite direction. It's tough, and it's hard to even ask for the support we need as women and mothers in the current judgemental climate. Thank you so much Jennifer for encouraging that climate here.

  12. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 9:07 AM |  


    See the thing is, you (from what I know) haven't had those horrid experiences that often lead to women making those choices.

    UP until about three months before Emmitt was born, I fully intended to EP again. I just could not wrap my head around putting myself through the stress and horror again. Breastfeeding Elnora was THAT bad.

    Then I really started to think about it and prompted by encouragement by my readers, I decided it couldn't hurt to try and nurse again.

    Turns out, it went great.

    But I've also seen that type of thing happen with those c-sections and other choices.

    The woman who had a fourth degree tear on her first birth and was dead set on having an elective c-section the next go round.

    The woman who had a friend that spent 28 hours in excruciating back labor before baby went into arrest and mom had to be knocked out for an emergency c-section.

    We are emotional people. Rationality often manages to win out, but at our base, we are emotional people.

    For some, overcoming those horror stories is hard. They see what looks awful and what looks easy and they jump on it. Not out of selfishness, but out of fear.

    That doesn't mean I support the choices they make, but I understand how many women end up making them. It's why education and support is so essential.

    It's why focusing on facts and encouragement instead of judgment is so critical.

    We all have reasons for the choices we make and I've found that women rarely share the FULL story with perfect strangers. Heck, they often fail to share the full story with close friends and family.

    Everyone's level of patience is different. Everyone's willingness to martyr themselves stops at a different point. Who am I to get to decide when someone's reason is "acceptable" for the choice they make when it comes to issues like birth, breast/bottle and other parenting things.

    That's not to say that there aren't clear right and wrong choices (mountain dew in bottle = bad parent, formula in bottle = not bad parent.) It's simply to say that it's very easy to judge situations that we don't really know anything about.

    I mean geeze, I read that article and thought "wow, I don't sound very big on breastfeeding, I sound like EPing is totally the way to go." Those of you who read here know that's not the cause. But that's how the snippets they chose came across.

    How do you know the same doesn't hold true for other moms they interviewed?

  13. Anonymous Christine | 9:28 AM |  

    Anonymous, you are right, it is really hard to pump with another kiddo running around and husband working and busy life happening. I think, though, that there are more moms who EP like you, because we have difficulties EBF ing.

    My 1st was BF for a year, but my second was born with a cleft palate. Some kiddos with cleft lip can BF, but mine had a HUGE cleft - no way could he make the seal and latch. He couldn't even latch a bottle. We used the special squeeze bottles to literally squirt the milk down his throat. All I did that first month was feed him a bottle, then pump, then it was time for the next bottle. It was exhausting and draining and felt impossible.

    But I was so proud that my little guy was growing and living on MY milk...something from my body was giving him sustinance and helping him grow! It was amazing. (And, I made so much milk that even when I stopped pumping from exhaustion after 6 weeks (and another hospitilization for him) I had enough milk to last him 3 months) And we bonded amazingly - we were a great team!

    I am proud of every day that my guy drank my milk, and every day that I pumped for him. I know it might not be good enough for many BFing moms, but my guy and I did great in the face of hard circumstances.

  14. Blogger Elaine | 9:31 AM |  

    Oooh, Jennifer, I really like that point that everyone's ability to martyr themselves stops/starts at a different point. You never know what someone is up against. I mean... people have mental health issues, physical limitations, and you really can't know until they admit it. That's why it's really not a good idea to judge another woman just because she needs to get away from her kids sometimes, or because she had a c-section because, say, her first baby died in childbirth (okay, even a childbirth that was at home, with a midwife, in a pool). You just never know.

  15. Blogger Ahmie | 10:29 AM |  

    Jennifer, you make very valid points - and I'm truly trying to wrap my mind around other people's experiences, not judging. It's kinda like some of the weird foods my in-laws eat, I can't wrap my mind around some of these things being appetizing (especially the spikey fruit that smells like cat pee when you cut it, they swear it's absolutely wonderful but they can't even convince their sons to try that one). There are all kinds of factors that go into any major choice people make, but I worry sometimes that young women may make decisions at least as much as on "it's what Brittney Spears (or insert another celebrity) did" as they do on solid facts and real life. That there is much more money to be made in some of their options brings out the Dragon in me all the more. If someone makes a fully informed choice, I have no problem with it (and it seriously reduces the lawsuit potential for the doctors involved, so I wish they'd wise up there already!), even if it's polar opposite of my life experience... but then again, I worry that it'll be perceived as playing "I told you so" if I point out how some of their birth/feeding/CIO/whatever choices may have been the precurser of issues they're having later on, instead of just advising that they can change paths if they want to with current and/or future children - once a c-section/bottle/CIO/whatever-parent does not mean forever that kind of parent. Each kid is different, and each minutes of their lives presents a subtlely different child so that something that didn't work last month may actually work this month. And in the process of changing and adapting our methods to the current realities, we're teaching our children lessons in flexibility and perseverance even if nothing more concrete and immediate comes out of it.

    At least, that's what I keep telling myself as I remind my 3yo for the 5th time in 2 hours that we WALK in the house. Perseverance, right?

    Baby crying gotta run

  16. Blogger Maria | 11:17 AM |  

    Women make a lot of choices for a lot of reasons. Another story... When I was pregnant, I almost got in a fight with a mother (younger than me), because she thought I was not taking my pregnancy seriously enough, because I wasn't fretting over every last detail. I told her to get out of my car... it was ugly. But what really made me mad was that I did have a lot of knowledge. I had done a ton of research. Yes, I was planning on natural and breastfeeding. One of wich happened and the other didn't. My body did not agree with the natural childbirth. At +12 days, I was induced, and while I tried to labor naturally, my body wouldn't do it. My midwife basically told me to take the drugs or have a c-section. I took the drugs and had a vaginal delivery. I was lucky.

    Point is-- you never know what happened leading up to that decision, so you shouldn't judge the results of that decision. JMO.

  17. Blogger Victoria/Beachcomber | 9:17 AM |  


    I really commend you on your ability to maintain an open mind and welcoming attitude. Sometimes it can be hard in the face of peoples' anger to see the pain that lies beneath it.


    You have a lot to be proud of in EPing for your little guy so successfully. EPing takes a lot of commitment and determination. So often moms who don't visibly BF get flak and it's unfair given how little people know of their true circumstances.

    The more I read sites like this the luckier I feel. I was able to EBF with relatively few problems. I am still BFing my 2 year old. I have so much respect for the struggles and grit many women have shown here and elsewhere when it comes to providing the best solution for their children.

  18. Blogger newsanchormom.com | 7:03 AM |  

    I agree there is some sort of middle group in all of this. My son rarely takes the bottle and I work full time. So, he's getting breast milk from a sippy cup and nursing at night. He hasn't had a problem. I do have a friend who's son got hooked on the bottle. She ended up just pumping and not nursing. Her son is fine. no jaw problems. I just posted on my blog on weightloss and breastfeeding. I would love some comments. I want people to know I am not the only one who breastfeeds!Newsanchormom.com Thanks!

  19. Anonymous Julie | 8:37 AM |  

    New to this blog. I am a L.C. and have experience in child development. I have found this all very interesting. I must say congrats to all who have worked so hard pumping! It is not easy!!
    I do think some were a bit harsh on Anonymous from my experience it can be so emotionally and mentally hard on a woman not to do something they had hoped for their baby. And 15 months hooked up to a machine would make anyone a little bitter!
    I do agree with her that breast is best for bonding. Not to say you can't bond in other ways but on the breast is the most natural. The other ways take a bit more effort. But of course are all worth it in the end!
    And anyone who wants to pump please research and look at all the pros and cons. But do what is best for you, just try to be informed!!
    If anyone has any friends who are pregnant find a good L.C. and give them a consult for after the birth! Even if they are having problems or not, I find most of the new moms I see what to stop because they think there might be a problem like with milk supply, etc. when there really isn't. Support is the greatest think we can give a new mom!!

  20. Blogger Holly | 10:23 AM |  

    Most new mothers are just not informed regarding the mechanics of breastfeeding.
    While pregnant with my first child, I planned to go with natural childbirth and exclusively breastfeed. However, he was totally breech, my water broke four weeks early, and he was delivered by emergency c-section.
    Then the nursing. Oh, boy. First of all, the lactation consultant at the hospital gave me a nipple shield when he had trouble latching on. Which, in my opinion, totally ruined breastfeeding from that point on. We got home from the hospital, and he nursed around the clock (which I didn't know was normal). On top of that, he wouldn't nurse at all without the shield. OH, and did I mention he was nursing around the clock? Then, after all that nursing, and crying, and nursing and crying some more, he weighed less at his one month appointment than he did when we went home from the hospital after his birth.
    That was it. The final straw. We switched to formula that day, and I bought the tightest bra I could find.
    Then, when he was three months old he became very ill and was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder which subsequently resulted in chemotherapy and a cord blood transplant when he was six months old. During transplant, he stopped eating completely and has never eaten since. He's had a g-tube for feedings for almost four years now.
    Because his disease was genetic and any child my husband and I have has a 25% chance of having the same thing, I was absolutely determined to breastfeed when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I swore that I would be able to offer her those important antibodies should she have to have chemo and a compromised immune system. Plus, I figured that she might at least nurse for comfort during transplant, even if her appetite dried up completely and even thumbsucking was incredibly painful, as was the case with my son. I also wanted to try VBAC with her.
    Well, things almost never work out the way you'd like them too... I ended up having a c-section with her, as well, but I MADE breastfeeding work. I bought a book while I was pregnant and learned as much about it as I could. I didn't allow the lactation consultant to give me nursing aids of any kind. I pumped every three hours, even in the hospital after a c-section, to ensure an abundant supply.
    And breastfeeding her was AWFUL for about the first six months of her life. I did not enjoy it... she nursed every two or three hours for the first nine months of her life - even more often than that for the first four months or so. I didn't sleep for more than an hour at a time for seven months. She had trouble latching on to my right breast, and it pretty much bled for the first eight weeks. Nursing was so incredibly painful that I would literally scream out in pain and have to hold onto something to keep from pushing her away every time she tried to latch on to that right breast.
    But I made it work. I had to for her sake. We had more at stake than the average mom... and if I did not have such strong incentive, I probably would've given up, too.
    She is fifteen months old now, and nurses like a champ. She sleeps twelve hours every night, and nurses maybe four or five times a day.
    And will keep doing so as long as she desires. Everything I went through to get to this point was worth it - but I certainly couldn't see that when I was on the other side of this.

  21. Anonymous kristina | 2:11 PM |  

    You have a great blog. I linked to it on BabyCenter.


  22. OpenID tvomatic1124 | 11:55 AM |  


    A friend just sent me the article on EP-ing, and I'm so happy to hear there are so many other women out there doing it. I am pumping every 3 hrs around the clock, and if I'm lucky will have one feeding where my son "drinks from the tap." Everything else comes from a bottle. So many women in my life that know about my EP-ing have an opinion (and love sharing it!)about it, and for a while it really stressed me out. Like Holly, I wanted (and had) a natural birth, and planned on being the breastfeeding master. Jake decided to come 18 days early though, and had severe jaundice. He spent his first 9 days in the world on a bilirubin blanket, only taken off to change his diaper. We were even instructed to feed him in it. He was practically comatose around the clock, and it would take over an hour each time we wanted to feed him just to rouse him, offer the breast, and keep him awake long enough to drink (which he would do for maybe 10 minutes or so at a time.) Needless to say, no one was sleeping, and no one was happy. In addition, our Ped wanted me supplementing his breast diet with formula (which I didn't do right away),instead just giving him breast milk in a bottle.

    My nipples never stood a chance against Dr. Brown. After several weeks of supplementing, Jake got lazy. He'll latch onto Righty with ease these days, but cries and complains the entire time. After nursing for 15 min or so on each breast, he'll STILL want an additional bottle, claiming he's STARVING. (As a side note, I never heard that bottle fed babies are more prone to obesity. Jake is average if not slightly below, in weight.)

    I love pumping. I love making a product that can protect, sustain, and nourish my child. I love that I am fortunate enough to produce so much milk that I can donate it to Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio. I do NOT love all the bottle/shield washing, steaming, storing, and general extra work. But I love my baby, and this is just one of the many avenues I take to show him.

    I am very on the fence about all the talk about breast bonding. In no way do I feel like I haven't bonded with my son. I love that when he feeds from a bottle I can look at his face, and know he's content. I love that daddy can feed him too, and feel included in a very special way. It's so painful for me to nurse, and bottle feeding has been a way for me to enjoy feeding him.

    All you pumpers out there keep up the good work! And if you're feel generous and full of milky goodness, the Milk Bank could really use your help. I'm almost done with my first donation batch (they take 100 oz at a time), and I'm excited to do my part. One of the ladies I spoke with there said their program may be in danger next fiscal year as the hospital doesn't view it as an important program. Terrible huh?

  23. Anonymous Kathryn | 7:13 AM |  

    I've only just found this blog but this post really spoke to me. My son was born by emergency c-section at 34 weeks as I was very ill and so I never got to experience labor and we were in separate wards for 2 weeks after the birth. When my milk came in a lovely MW showed me how to pump and I was able to do this every 3-4 hours even though I couldn't get out of bed or sit up properly unaided! I'd never heard of exclusively pumping and only managed for a couple of weeks after we got home as it IS so much hard work with all the washing and sterilizing thrown in. I started adding more formula when I realized that my son needed an awake, attentive mom much more than my milk. He is now 3 months old and has just over a quarter of his milk from the pump.

  24. Blogger Amy | 8:53 AM |  

    I have four children, three of which were breastfed excusively. My son, who breastfed for about 3 months before I quit from total exhaustion, is the ONLY ONE with his wisdom teeth! His older sister and younger sister both did not have room! (The youngest is 16 and the dentist is on the fence.) With the first daughter, I breastfed and gave her formula when I worked. The youngest two never took a bottle, even when I worked. I did "reverse cycle" feeding, and pumped at lunch. I never used a machine, had an abundance of bags of breastmilk, and they were both happy. The sitter used a sippy cup because they rejected a bottle.
    I used to feel guilty that I quit breastfeeding my son so early but his feeding requirements were beyond my ability to provide. I don't any more. I commend anyone who pumps, partially or exclusively. It takes a commitment that only a mother could do!
    My daughter is going to have a baby in May and I will support whatever she choses for her and her new daughter. It is about bonding, not breastfeeding.

  25. Blogger MurkyMama | 10:20 AM |  

    My son is 3.5 months old, and I've already had 2 bouts of mastitis, plus an I&D (incision and drainage) for a breast abscess. A couple of weeks ago, I developed a plugged duct in my right breast, which made it unbelievably painful to nurse on that side. Fortunately, I was able to pump that side, which I did for about a week. So it went like this: every 3 hours or so, nurse him on the left side, and then give him a bottle to "make up" for the right breast being unavailable (my left breast was the one that was operated on, and produces nowhere NEAR the milk that the right produces, so I can't do block nursing). Then, after giving him the bottle, I'd have to find the time to pump the right breast so I'd have enough milk for his next feeding, etc. This was pretty much round-the-clock (well, I'm back to work full-time, so I did this at home in addition to my 3 daily pumping sessions at work).

    It was exhausting. It adds another whole set of chores to your day. To you EP-ing moms out there: good for you for choosing breast milk, in whatever "vessel" you provide it to your child. I was SO relieved when my right breast healed and I could again nurse from that side, I could have cried. It felt like such a "privilege" to be woken up in the middle of the night and "only" have to nurse, and not pump, wash bottles, etc.!

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