Tuesday, March 18, 2014

To pump or not to pump?

I've been pumping and donating since Ivy was 2 weeks old. Every night, I hook myself up to the pump, settle back into the couch, and pump a cup of liquid gold for my donor family. Sometimes I would be so tired when it came time to pump. I just want to go to bed...maybe I'll do it in the morning...but still every night I would sit down, plug in, and pump.

I love nursing my children, and I would be devastated if I were unable to breastfeed. That's why I pump, even when I don't feel like it.

I've wondered how long I could continue pumping after I was done nursing my last baby...months? years? decades? Some wet nurses continued to nurse babies into their 70s and 80s, so I suppose there is no absolute upper limit on lacatation.

With our upcoming move to France, however, I knew my pumping days would likely end. I don't have a 240V pump and our new apartment doesn't have a proper freezer. Two strikes, you're out. When I realized this, I was excited at the thought of freedom from pumping. When I'm tired, I can just go to bed!

My visit to Seattle two weeks ago might have answered my dilemma about when to stop pumping. I didn't bring a pump. I figured Ivy would take care of the extra milk if I gave her more opportunities to nurse. I did get a little engorged, but not uncomfortably so. I tried my sister's single manual pump (Isis Avent) and that thing is worthless! I easily express 8+ ounces with my double electric pump, but only got a half an ounce with the manual pump.

When I came home from Seattle, I didn't pump the first night...or the next...or the next.

I think I am done.

I've been working on saying no to more things. Even though I could do them, I choose not to. I'm a little wistful because this might be my last opportunity to donate. But I'm also ready to move on and enjoy a few more minutes of sleep every night, a few more minutes not tied down to a machine, a few more minutes when my body is mine and no one else's. 


  1. I'm planning on breastfeeding/pumping, and really need to call my insurance company to see if they will cover a breastpump.

  2. From someone who was never able to make more than 1 oz, you are amazing for donating. I always wished I had been able to breastfeed my baby, but I'm thankful she's healthy, strong, and happy nonetheless.

  3. I think it is awesome that you pumped to donate, but I also understand you wanting to be done. I went back to work when my eldest was 8 weeks old and pumped full-time from then until I quit work when she was 9 months old. I was proud that she never got a drop of formula and I would do it all over again if I had to, but with my second, whom I was lucky enough to stay home with, I have pumped only 3 or 4 times. I had a pumping experience and this time I wanted to have a non-pumping experience. My plan for number three is to pump and donate, but I won't lie, I enjoyed this second babyhood without the pump quite a bit.


  4. It's amazing how different people have different experiences with the same pump. I used the Isis from June 2000 to about 2006, and it was great! If you normally get a good pumping response with another pump, then I wonder if the little white "button" thingy was worn out and lessening suction. Sometimes if I put it in upside down by accident, that would happen too.

  5. Thanks for this, Rixa. I'm nursing and pumping for a donor family at present too, and wondering how long I'll be able to keep it up.


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