Exclusively pumping is an incredible commitment. We are thrilled to feature this inspiring interview with Tiffany, explaining the ups and downs of her Exclusively Pumping journey.
What were some of your goals when you first started your breastfeeding journey? Did you plan to be an exclusive pumper? If so can you tell us what lead to that decision? If not, will you share what lead you to become an exclusive pumper?
Honestly, exclusively breastfeed for first 6 months (no bottles at all). I also had a goal of pumping to build a stash for when I went back to work, as well as donating as much as possible. I had no idea of the difficulties I would encounter which prohibited me from reaching all 3 goals. I started off great, researching and going to classes about breastfeeding. I got my pump weeks before by daughter was born. We didn’t buy any bottles because I had 0 plans of using a bottle. My daughter was born with a difficulty to breathe so she was immediately taken away after birth (no skin to skin, no breastfeeding within the first hour, etc.) She also had a severe tongue and lip tie which prevented her from being able to effectively transfer milk. I was nursing and pumping right from the start…..right in the hospital hours after a cesarean.
I had a wonderful IBCLC helping and my milk transitioned on day 2. However, my babe was still unable to transfer effectively. We were pushed to supplement with formula right in the hospital to prevent her bilirubin levels from increasing. So, we started out breaking my very first goal. I was only able to exclusively breastfeed her for 2 weeks. But then found out that she had been losing weight, despite seeming satisfied at the breast. I continued pumping and nursing and supplementing. She went on a strike around 3 months and didn’t nurse again for 2 months! I tried every day, but was rejected time and time again. I continued pumping and pumping even though the most I ever got was 12 oz for the entire day. Whatever I could not pump we gave her in formula.
It wasn’t what I wanted, but I wasn’t emotionally ready to accept donor milk. I wanted so badly to make my body respond to the pump so I could give her what she needed. It never happened. I’ve never pumped more than 12oz a day. However, at 6 months old, I finally accepted the fact that I couldn’t do it alone and started looking for donor milk. So, from 6 months to 12 months she only got breastmilk (and solids) but no more formula. I felt silly for not doing it sooner, however, it was what I could handle at the time. Here we are at 13 months old and my daughter seems to be done or on another strike. So I’m pumping around the clock (min 4 hours a day). But, I’m down to only 4oz a day.
Over time, I have modified my goals.
– after accepting I couldn’t exclusively nurse her until 6 months, I changed my goal to get her breastmilk for 6 months
– then get her breastmilk until 12 months (succeeded – she got at least 1 bottle of my milk every day of her life)
– new goal, get her BM until 24 months
I had no plans of being an exclusive pumper. I wanted to pump for “extra” milk only. Not as a main source for my daughter. However, life has other plans sometimes 😊
If you could give advice to someone planning to be an exclusive pumper what would you tell them?
Advice for an EP’er….invest in a good pump, good LC support and be prepared for lots of time at the pump. Also be aware that not everyone responds to the pump. I am one of those lucky people 🙋♀️. It is ok to need help, advice and support. It’s not easy!
What do you think has been the easiest and hardest part of your exclusively pumping?
The hardest part of my pumping journey is spending thousands of dollars on pumps, parts, bras, snacks, teas, supplements etc. And none of them helped. Also, the time I spent beating myself up over not being able to pump enough for her….I regret losing that time. It could have been spent enjoying her 😍. The easiest part….I’m not sure. I havent had many “easy parts” in this journey unfortunately. However, I will say I would do it all over again for her in a heartbeat.
Have you discovered any pumping hacks you’re willing to share?
No, I wish I knew of a hack that could work for everyone. But the biggest thing I’ve found is make yourself comfortable. The more comfortable and relaxed you are, the better your output will generally be.
My story has a lot of struggle and a lot of heartache, but I don’t want that to discourage anyone. Like I said, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I’ve given my daughter the benefits of breastmilk every day of her life. That’s what I could do, and that’s what I will continue to do until she is truly finished.
My heart is so full hearing about Tiffany’s love and commitment to her daughter. Thank you for sharing your story with us, and letting Milky Mommas share your journey! ❤