Little Sunday Story Time Peach by Ruby

I sat there sobbing, my tiny little girl was screaming her head off, and I had some random lady trying to shove her mouth onto my exposed, engorged breast, to no avail. Maia was four days old, my milk had just come in and she had barely fed. The nursery nurse turned to me and said ‘do you have any formula and bottles? We’re going to need those.’ Through my tears and Maia’s screams, I countered that I had pumped milk from earlier. My mum had encouraged me to pump for the first time to keep my supply going. ‘Even better,’ she said. I watched Maia down the milk I had pumped for her and promptly fall asleep again.

That was the start of not just my pumping journey but also Maia’s bottle-feeding preference. I go back to that day so often and wonder whether if I had a more educated breastfeeding counsellor, a lactation consultant, if I had persisted more, would things have changed? 

The next ten weeks I battled with Maia to get her back to the boob. We had her 80% anterior tongue tie cut privately on day 8, I visited a cranial osteopath, we tried nipple shields and various positions, I grabbed her before she cried for milk to latch her before she even noticed. But she still just hated boobies. It’s hard not to take it personally. Maybe she doesn’t accept me as her Mum? Maybe she hasn’t bonded to me like I have to her? Maybe there’s something wrong with me? 

All through it, I pumped. And before I knew it I was three months in and had decided to stop actively trying to latch Maia, it was too emotionally painful. I reckoned I must have been the only mum to ever have to Exclusively pump. Surely all the other mums have mastered it by now, I felt. 

Shortly after that I found the Facebook group that I credit to getting me to this day (currently we are at 10 months of EP-big). When I discovered them, I remember writing this long post about how in pain I was that Maia rejected the boob, how pleased I was to find that I wasn’t the only one. I discovered how many women were doing it not only for the same reasons as me, but so many other heroic reasons. Pumping for cleft lip and palate babies, pumping because they have breastfeeding aversion, pumping because of low supply or flat nipples. Pumping due to weight loss, tongue tie or nipple trauma. All hero mums. 

Fast forward to now, we are ten months down the line and although I’m constantly battling nipple tears and my oversupply is diminishing, I still don’t see an end point. I have 67L of breastmilk stored in my freezer (aside from the fact I’ve donated around 37L) that could get her to at least a year, but I’m desperate to keep going. I want her to have fresh milk until she’s one, maybe even one and a half. Two would be brilliant but currently doesn’t seem possible! All I want mothers to know is that exclusively pumping is definitely sustainable. It’s a legitimate option to breastmilk feeding your baby should you need to. And if you ever need support, there are tonnes of us out there waiting to hear from you.