After the births of each of my 3 boys, I worked out a breastfeeding plan that I thought would suit our family. Nursing for me has never come easy, and I’ve never made it past about 8 weeks due to very low milk production. But I’ve been committed to providing as much breastmilk as I could to my newborns for as long as possible. A big part of my breastfeeding plan included the use of a breast pump.
Like most moms, I purchased my pump after reading countless reviews online and asking scores of friends for advice. Even after I made what I thought to be an informed and confident purchase, I still had a host of issues with my pump and my list of complaints started to grow longer and longer.
Here are five of my least favorite aspects of pumping.
I usually pumped at night, as this was the time my baby was least likely to want to work out the thimble-full of milk I usually had stocked up in my boobs. I would pumps and then feed him what I had expressed. This meant pumping in the dead of night, while the rest of my family slept.
The noise of my pump always startled me, even night after night of use. It sounded like a mix between an old-school printer and an angry cat. The repetitive crank and whoosh would wake up my sleeping husband and sometimes even my baby. I would pack a pillow over the motor, but it still reverberated off the walls of our bedroom.
Breastfeeding a newborn baby is a magical experience. Holding a soft baby skin-to-skin to feed him is one of my favorite feelings. Contrast that to sitting hunched over the tubing of a breast pump with the cones pressed up to your nipples, and it’s apparent why most moms prefer having the baby at the breast to pumping.
I remember having my husband rub my lower back as I pumped just to ease the discomfort. There was nothing sexy or intimate about the process. It was just a chore I had to get through.
You know what new moms don’t need? One more thing to clean and maintain. A new baby comes with dirty diapers, dirty clothes, used bottles, spit up, blow outs, pooplosions (oh yes) and so many other exciting and surprising accessories, a new parents is up to his or her ears in things to clean.
Cleaning the parts of a breast pump becomes a never-ending chore. As soon as the parts are dry, it’s time to plug them in again and get them dirty. I remember late one night fumbling in the dark trying to find clean parts for my pump, only to realize they were sitting, still dirty, in the kitchen sink.
Using a breast pump in public isn’t really a discreet activity. There’s no way to lug a big, recognizable pump incognito around a mall or office. And there’s virtually no way to pump in a large group setting, at least not without drawing eyes.
My breast pump came built in to a large tote bag. This seemed like a great idea when I bought it but trying to fit anything else into the bag proved impossible around the machinery of the pump. That meant I ended up hauling around a big heavy pump along with my diaper bag. It was cumbersome, to say the least.
My breast pump looked like a breast pump. There was nothing sleek or sexy about it. When I used it I felt so utilitarian, sort of cow-like. There was nothing about the process that brought that intimacy of breastfeeding I felt when I fed my babies directly.
The parts and even the color of the components did nothing to make me feel connected to the breastfeeding process. It all looked like pieces from a science experiment kit. I’m not a particularly voguish person, but the pump made me feel like a part of a machine, not like a mother providing milk for her baby.
There is an ocean of improvement that stands at the ready when it comes to the currently-available breast pump. It seems like with all the innovation going around, we can definitely do better.