Pumping Breastmilk Is Hard, So I Stopped — And That's Okay - Baby Chick
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Pumping Breastmilk Is Hard, So I Stopped — And That’s Okay

Pumping can be a great way to feed your baby. But not all moms like it. A mom shares why she stopped pumping and why she doesn't regret it.

Updated May 21, 2024 Opinion

When you get pregnant, there are a lot of things you agonize over. And whether you decide to breastfeed most of the time or not, one of those things is what bottles to buy. There are so many out there, and the choices can be overwhelming. And maybe you’re not sure you need them, but everything out there tells you that, at some point, you will. So you try to get just a few, just in case. Because even if you breastfeed, you may want Dad or Grandma to give the baby a bottle of breastmilk so you can take a break, right?

The Best of Intentions

During pregnancy, I decided to pump and build a milk stash like the pictures I saw on social media. I received many bottles for my baby shower, including a bottle warmer and a drying rack. I ordered my pump while I was still pregnant. And I ensured I had it because, of course, I would pump and give my baby bottles sometimes.

But I did neither of those things.

Real Life And Changed Plans

I forced myself to pump with my first. I did it twice, maybe three times. And then I never did it again. I hated it. It was time-consuming. It was ineffective, and it took time away from my baby. Time that I could have just been nursing her. Time that I could have been playing with her. It was boring and tedious. Thankfully, I had enough milk and stayed home with her, so making sure she got milk when she needed it was not a problem.

Why I Chose To Stop Pumping

Here are the reasons why I stopped pumping:

It’s Expensive

Pumping can be costly, especially if you don’t have insurance. Even if you have insurance, you may want something different, which can cost several hundred dollars. You will also need nipples, bottles, and extra sanitizing products. Not to mention the cleaning supplies and replacement parts.

It Steals Time

Sanitizing your pump and parts is a long process. Every piece of equipment used to pump, every nipple, and bottle will need to be cleaned regularly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should sanitize your pump whenever it comes into contact with your milk.1 This sanitization process involves taking everything apart and ensuring it gets thoroughly clean and dry.

It also takes additional time to thaw and warm your milk to prepare it for your baby. To thaw breastmilk, leave it overnight in the refrigerator or soak it in warm water. You also need to gently heat it gradually with warm water. Using a microwave is a big risk because you can create hot spots that may burn your baby’s mouth, and you can also risk destroying nutrients.

Precision and Timing Were Not Always Ideal

Calculating when to pump was also a pain. You had to time it just right to get the most milk. You had to space it out correctly to fool your body. Even then, it did not always work ideally. It just seemed like more work.

Instincts of My Baby

Then, you had to convince the baby that a bottle was what she wanted. It wasn’t. She wanted mommy. She wanted to nurse and cuddle. And she wanted to feel safe and warm. Even though my husband wanted to have the experience of feeding the baby, it just didn’t work out. It was so much more work and seemed like a huge waste of time. I am sorry he missed out on the experience, but my instincts told me that nursing was the best way to go. It was more natural and intuitive, so I followed my feelings. Plus, it would not have been as helpful as it seems. Even if he took over some of the feedings, I still would have had to pump during that same time.

Night Pumping Wasn’t Worth It

You need to wake up during the night to pump at least once. It is really easy to wake up to breastfeed your baby because baby cuddles are great! But waking up to pump may be more of a pain. During the night is when prolactin is at its highest.2 Prolactin is a hormone that will help ensure that milk is consistently produced, so it is important to get milk out during this time to maintain production.

The Benefits of Nursing Outweighed Everything

Not only does nursing help you bond with your baby, there are other benefits as well. The coolest benefit I came across was that your milk will adapt to your child’s needs. When you nurse, your body takes in your child’s saliva. This process sends a message about what your child needs and your body will change the milk to make that happen.3

In the end, I felt pressured into pumping, and I soon learned it was not right for me. But I also felt like not getting her to take a bottle was somehow my failure as a mother. Once I got past that, I realized that I was doing what was best for my baby and me by quitting pumping. And I don’t regret it at all.

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Kristen N. Winiarski spends much of her days battling her kids' hangry moods with bacon and Cookie Monster impressions. She also encourages dance parties as P.E. whenever possible. Kristen started… Read more

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