Exclusively Pumping – An Abstract Way Remove Breast Milk
I found it fascinating to watch my two year old, who had struggled to use an educational computer game in the past, play with an iPhone for the first time. With the computer she had to learn that the arrow on the screen was what made the objects in the game move. She had to learn how to hold the mouse in the right orientation, how to move her hand to get the arrow to move, what to do when the mouse hit the keyboard or fell off the mouse pad, which button on the mouse to push and so on. It was all very abstract and difficult for her to grasp.
When I handed over the iPhone, all the barriers were removed. She used her finger to swipe through family photos. She used her finger to launch apps. She used her finger to open a barn to see and hear the animals inside. In just a few minutes she grasped how to use it. An entire level of abstraction was removed and it made everything so much easier.
Breastfeeding is a lot like using an iPhone and exclusively pumping is a lot like using a traditional computer. Breastfeeding and the iPhone are intuitive, natural and intimate. While exclusively pumping and the computer are abstract, analytical, cold and complicated.
This is not to say that exclusively pumping is “bad” or “wrong” or “difficult.” But it is important to acknowledge that our bodies are wired to release milk to a breastfeeding baby. It’s not just about nipple stimulation. The feel of baby’s soft skin, his unique smell, the movement of his hands, the way you feel when you look into his eyes as he breastfeeds, his sounds and expressions, his cry of hunger – all of these play a role in encouraging milk to letdown. When baby is replaced with a “cold” machine all those cues are abstracted away.
To Be Successful At Exclusively Pumping:
- You’ll need to find a way to get your body to easily and frequently letdown for the pump. You need to reconcile this level of abstraction because when you are exclusively pumping you don’t have access to al the cues your body normally relies on to release milk. Some exclusively pumping women, pump while near baby, or look at photos of their baby while pumping. Others listen to baby sounds they have recorded. Other exclusively pumping moms find it better to distract themselves by talking on the phone, reading or engaging some other distracting activity. You may need to experiment to find what works best for you.
- You’ll need to select a good, high-quality pump and monitor it and keep it in good working order. We have written an article specifically about selecting the best pump for exclusively pumping moms.
- You’ll need a pumping strategy and exclusively pumping schedule that gets your breast milk supply off to a good start and maintains it with as few hassles as possible. This topic also deserved its own article.
- And finally you need to know what to do if your milk supply drops. There are many ways to bring your milk supply back up and you can read about them in this article targeted at exclusively pumping moms.
Follow these suggestions and you will be well on your way to providing the best nutrition your baby can get by exclusively pumping.