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8 Things I Love About Pumping

For the first 2 months of Elijah’s life, 8 times a day I felt tortured. Yes, I had chosen to pump when my child refused to breastfeed, but I hated it. And I hated it fiercely.

But over the past two months, that hate has slowly started to fade. I no longer dread pumping, I no longer want to quit every day. I can actually see myself doing this for the long haul, by which I mean 8 more months. It went from completely insufferable, to totally tolerable. And so though it was easy for me to recount all the things I hated just a few short weeks ago (the dishes, middle of the night pumping, having to carry bottles around, etc), I’ve now begun to realize that pumping has several distinct advantages.

It’s still not easy and it’s still not super fun, but these are the 8 things I now love about pumping. (And before we go there, this is NOT me discouraging anyone from breastfeeding, it’s me finding the good part of a situation I never wanted for myself.)

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  • I can let others feed the baby 1 of 8
    I can let others feed the baby
    Notice the use of the word let. I never wanted anyone else to feed the baby and I am still stingy about it. I wanted to nurse so that it was just him and me, with our bonding time. But I've come to see that the flexibility of being able to have someone else feed him is a huge advantage. I can go take a shower without freaking out that he's going to need to eat. I can run to the store and leave him with my husband. Or if I'm really tired and not up for the entire hour long feed/pump routine in the middle of the night, I can ask my husband for help and get some more sleep.
  • No bleeding nipples 2 of 8
    No bleeding nipples
    For the two weeks we tortured ourself with nursing with the nipple shield, I wanted to cry about 80% of the time. I know that in time the skin would've toughened up and eventually it wouldn't have been painful, but pumping means I never had to push through that. It takes some getting used to because it's not the most comfortable thing to do either, but I find it way less painful than nursing.
    Image from MorgueFile
  • Daycare transition was easy 3 of 8
    Daycare transition was easy
    I have several friends whose babies were devoted nursers, devoted to the point that when they went to daycare they refused a bottle. Now, I know these are obviously the minority, but it was nice to be able to not have to worry about whether he would eat while I was gone because the kid loves his bottle, regardless of who's feeding him.
  • No comfort nursing 4 of 8
    No comfort nursing
    There are days where I can tell Eli isn't eating for sustenance, but he is eating for comfort. And it is then I breathe a heavy sigh of relief that we're not nursing. Comfort nursing is wonderful comfort for a baby, but it can't be terribly comfortable for mom.
  • He’s still getting breastmilk, but I have freedom 5 of 8
    He's still getting breastmilk, but I have freedom
    For the first two months I was married to the pumping schedule. Whenever Eli ate, I pumped. This meant that on growth spurt days, I was pumping 10+ times a day and 3+ times a night. Once my supply has gotten a little more established, I've been able to relax. I can go 5-6 hours without pumping without a dip in my supply. I can go out of the house for hours on end without panicking about pumping. And I can sleep with only 1 pumping session at night. I still pump more when he's growth spurting so my supply will grow with him, but it's totally tolerable to have to do it once in a while.
  • Me time 6 of 8
    Me time
    As silly as it sounds, the 20-35 minutes I'm pumping are me time. I put Eli in the swing when my husband's at work, and hand him off to dad in the evenings and I can catch up on emails, write or just otherwise enjoy me time.
  • Feedings can be quick 7 of 8
    Feedings can be quick
    We have 2 different sets of bottles, one is a slow flow that we switched to when we realized that Eli was gorging himself, and one is the faster set we had before (it's still a "slow flow" but it flows fast enough that I'd hate to see what a faster flow nipple from this brand would be like). At night we use the faster flow so that it takes less time and during the day we use the slow flow so it takes longer and he feels a little more satisfied. And the bottom line is that instead of the marathon nursing sessions we had (that were then followed up by a bottle and pumping) that took easily 90 minutes, he can be finished with a feeding within 15 minutes with the faster bottles. It means more sleep for both of us and that if we're in a hurry, he doesn't have to wait until we get somewhere to eat or we don't have to be later than usual because of a long feed.
  • The car meltdowns 8 of 8
    The car meltdowns
    Eli is a fantastic car sleeper with two exceptions: if he's hungry and if there's traffic. And when he's hungry AND there's traffic? He's a wreck. This happened a few weeks ago and because I pump and Eli takes a bottle, my husband was able to get out, move to the back seat and feed him while we drove the rest of the way to dinner, which wouldn't have worked if breastfeeding had.

For any other mothers who have pumped, what was your favorite part?

Read more from Katie on Overflowing Brain!
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