by Ashton Fortin Higgins, PhD, MEd, certifying cALS
Exclusive pumping is tough.
For most of us, it's a life we didn't prepare ourselves to lead. In fact, 84% of exclusive pumpers intended to nurse their child (Jardine, 2020). Many people believe we just didn't get the support. For some of us, that may be true. For others, we struggled day in and day out to make it work, where we just reached a point knowing that providing a child with human milk was more important than the desire to nurse. For others, the chance to nurse was taken away by conditions like high cleft palate, where the milk transfer just isn't sustainable. It's not a surprise that 66% of exclusive pumpers felt frustrated.
Exclusive pumping is mentally draining.
You will spend a good portion of your journey trying to figure things out. A schedule and managing a newborn at home, it's no wonder why some of these top words are "challenged", "discouraged" and "disappointed." There's a lot going on, and it's important to know that work at the Exclusive Pumping Institute is involving more mental health professionals to be better trained at understanding our thoughts, needs, including the whys and hows of why people exclusively pump.
Exclusive pumping is rewarding.
The joy when your baby takes that bottle of your pumped milk can be heart warming. Jardine's (2020) study really sums it up nicely with "devoted" and "productive." There is no other task I committed to like that of exclusive pumping, and I have a doctorate. While one can procrastinate writing, I can't put off my baby's needs to feed. While I wasn't always a just enougher, I lived the undersupplier life for some time, I pumped 10x per day from 6 weeks postpartum until 13 weeks postpartum. I was devoted and the most productive I'd ever been. When I became a just enougher, it was truly one of the happiest days of my life. There was something inside me that knew that any amount of my own milk that my kiddo could get was worth it.
Any amount of human milk/breastmilk is beneficial, no matter how much or how little you produce.
This evidence based study is the first study to really get to the heart of exclusive pumpers. It's a wonderful read, just be mindful that it is a dissertation and 100s of pages long. You can always catch the publication for a quicker read.