Staying Motivated While Pumping
Ever feel like pumping has taken over your life? It seems like every waking moment is spent pumping, thinking about when you have to pump, washing pump parts, checking to be sure you are drinking enough water, eating the right foods to increase or maintain supply (shoutout to oatmeal!), taking supplements and vitamins, prepping bottles, filling freezer bags, checking the clock to see when it is time to pump again and then right when you sit down to start another pumping session....your little one fills that diaper they have managed to keep bone dry until the very moment you have your shirt up and the flanges attached. This begs the question every pumping mom in the world has asked herself:
"How do I stay motivated to keep pumping?"
First of all Momma: maintaining this kind of schedule is no easy feat, so please pause for a moment and give yourself the praise and recognition you so clearly deserve. Mixed in with real life mishaps, household duties, a job (if you're a working momma!) and...oh yeah...raising that amazing child you created, it is 1000% understandable that you are exhausted and at your wits end! So here's a few inspirational tips to keep you moving towards your goal:
Cuddle That Baby! Immediately after reading this article, pick up that baby (or babies?) and snuggle them! Cover them in kisses. Talk sweet to them. Tickle their little bellies. See their tiny smiles. Kiss their little nose(s). Because this little human you created is beginning and the end of the "why" you chose to put forth all this effort in the first place. Everything you are doing is an act of pure love, and while they can't actually say "thank you" yet, their smiles and giggles are an innocent reminder of how grateful they are for YOU to be their mom. It may feel like a thankless task, but they love you and they have faith in you.
Find a Pumping Mentor! Talking to someone that can relate to how you are feeling and offer advice/words of encouragement (or even just listen to your rant) can be the pick-me-up you need when you are feeling burnt out. You'll often find that moms who share this experience with you are happy to be a stand-in cheerleader for moms going through the same thing.
Don't Force A Schedule! Notice that a specific pumping session is always somewhat more difficult to achieve than the rest? Don't stress about it. You are in charge of your own schedule! Read that again. You do not owe anyone else an explanation for the schedule you choose, and you can switch it up any time you need! If something isn't working - don't force it! Change it and move along.
Think About All The Money You Are Saving. Sometimes numbers is what motivates people most, so try this out for size: Infant formula costs an average of $1,200-$1,500 for a baby's first year, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
Don't Be Afraid to Pump In Weird Places. Do it. Like some sort of crazed Tik Tok challenge. In the drive thru? Pump. At your friend's? Pump. Visiting in-laws? Pump. On your way to work? Pump. At a wedding? Pump. In a Starbucks? Pump. At a library? Pump. In traffic? Pump. At a house showing? Pump. Concert? Pump. Conference call? Pump. (But turn the camera off first and maybe put a sticky note over it just in case?) Either way, you get the picture. Keep a list of all the insane place you've pumped and laugh about it later. Make it a friendly competition among mommy friends! Whatever you have to do to feel as confident and comfortable with it as you can.
Invest In Your Pumping Comfort. If painful pumping is part of what is making you consider quitting, look into some options that can help make you more comfortable! Have your flanges sized by a professional like a Lactation Consultant (many even offer sizing sessions online OR they will come to you so you don't have to leave your home!) Nipple creams, breast pump cushions and silicone flanges are just a few options that exist for your pumping needs.
Don't Feel Guilty if Stopping Is What Is Best For You. There. I said it. Ultimately, your sanity, happiness and ability to be your best self for your baby is what matters most. You should be free to take care of your child in a way that works for you, so making the choice to stop would not necessarily be a bad thing if it helps you be happier, healthier and more confident. Don't allow yourself to creep towards the edge of self-hatred and body-shaming. If you want to be sure you have tried everything possible, talk to your doctor, pediatrician or trusted lactation consultant and talk through all of your options INCLUDING a safe way to stop if that is what your best course of action is. You are no less worthy and you are no less of a mother. If you don't believe me - ask your baby. They won't understand what you are asking them, but the little smile they will flash you will be because of how much they absolutely adore you.
For the moms who are wondering why would anyone choose to pump?! Mothers all over make the decision to partially or exclusively pump for a myriad of reasons, though I promise none of them are because of laziness. Do not think that I am discounting all you exclusive breastfeeders or formula feeders though! I see you. You are valuable. You are awesome. You are an inspiration. Your contributions are equally exhausting in their own ways. Keep kicking ass mommas.