It’s World Breast Pumping Day 2022

Reflections On My Pumping Journey

Willow is a company of moms and passionate supporters of moms. Today, World Breast Pumping Day, is very personal to us. Today is about more than a hashtag, it’s a day to lift up, support, and shine a light on all of the immense mental and physical effort that goes into feeding a child.

There are often many wonderful elements to breastfeeding, but breastfeeding and pumping can be incredibly hard, and not always possible for some moms. A reality that you rarely anticipate. It’s also a deeply personal experience. To write this meant that I had to reflect on my own feeding journey, which was perhaps even harder than the writing itself.

It’s so hard to describe that period of time— such a jumble of emotions, memories and experiences across my 3 kids. That sweet sense of connection and knowing that you can help soothe this tiny new human. The surprisingly intense pain and discomfort of getting into the swing of things, or dealing with challenges (clogged milk ducts! teeth!) along the way. The beauty of those 3AM quiet, calm feeds and snuggles. The mixed emotions of beginning to integrate formula when I needed to. The isolation of pumping with traditional pumps, plugged to the wall while trying to navigate work and career at the same time.

All of these raw feelings can become the beginning of a toxic pattern of feeling not enough, alone, and unsupported. When we talk about the hard parts, we can help new moms navigate her unique journey with confidence and hopefully (one day) make real, meaningful change for all of us.

As I started to think about what I wish I’d known and what I wish I could tell others, this journey found new value. For so many new parents, the time, the mental load and the dedication it takes to feed and nourish an infant goes unnoticed or is dismissed as simply being “just part of motherhood.”

On this day of personal and global reflection on the heroic, overwhelming and yet life-changing experience that is nourishing a child, and in the spirit of normalizing challenges and offering support, here is my list of things that I wish I could have told my younger self …

  1. Visit a Lactation Consultant early and often. An assessment of your nipples in the hospital isn’t going to be an accurate reflection of your nipple size at 4-6 weeks, and sizing can change again around 3 months in, so make sure you size often.

  2. Ignore Instagram. You don’t have to pump 6-8+ ounces every session to have enough supply or build a freezer stash. Your baby is telling you how much they need and that’s how much you will produce. (For the record, it’s usually about an ounce an hour, so if you pump every 3-4 hours, 3-4 ounces is great!) Which brings me to my next point.

  3. Feeding is more important than what is fed. As a mom of three, I had a different journey with each child, and in some instances formula was a necessary supplement (doctor’s orders!). I have extreme gratitude that there are breastmilk substitutes … because it’s what my babies needed.

  4. The end of the journey can be tough … I cried for weeks with each child. I wish I would have been able to tell my younger self that this was normal and it’s ok to not only feel, but honor all of the emotions you experience throughout your pumping and breastfeeding journey.

I am one of many. Breastfeeding and pumping is meant for our children, but it changes us, and unites us as mothers. I asked some of our Willow moms to share their own stories and I was blown away by the beauty and candor of their replies. I hope that by having these frank conversations we’ll normalize our realities, and perhaps, make some changes along the way.

Tell us about your breast pumping journey. What do you wish you’d known before you started pumping? Join the conversation by using the hashtag #withWillow.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of medical professionals. It should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions or problems. Please contact your healthcare provider with questions or concerns.
Which pump is right for you?
Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

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