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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Moo Moo Buckaroo

-That was a friends facebook status update one day last week.  I (and I'm sure many other Moms who are members of the pumping club) couldn't help smiling to myself.

Pumping is an odd and impersonal necessity for a working mum like me. I have a deep desire to breastfeed my son as long as he needs and a financial and cultural necessity to work away from home while he is still completely dependent on me for his nutrition needs.

This creates an unwelcome dichotomy of being the breastfeeding nurturer and the absentee working parent.  Balancing stress of accomplishing enough work tasks each day to be satisfied in yourself and justify to yourself your continued absence from your child's day with the stress of producing enough milk each day at work can be challenging.

I've found myself with a problem I've read other working mums give themselves, the over production problem.  It seems to start when our babies are very young and eating constantly.  We see the looming deadline on the calendar for returning to work, it's always too soon.  The books we read and advice from podcasts and professionals tells us to pump every second we can to build up a stock of frozen milk, plus needing to save 25-30oz of fresh milk for your first day back.

So we pump. We wake in the night to pump, we pump during morning naps, we pump on one side while the baby feeds on the other, we pump before bed, and eventually by tiny increments we prepare for our absence from our babies lives.  It some days felt like the need to pump and the nagging worry about saving enough was stealing what little remaining time I had with my son.

The sneaky thing about this method of building up a frozen supply is that we teach our breast  that our babies need more milk than they can drink in a day.  I've gotten in to this downward spiral of pumping in which my body thinks I need to feed the baby 5-10oz more than he'll eat.  This leaves me painfully engorged, leaking milk during the night, and sometimes spraying my baby in the face when I try to feed him.  This then requires pumping for relief thus continuing the cycle of over production.

I have tried to leave a little engorgement to teach my breasts no to make so much, but I fear loosing my supply.  I would guess this is a fear many working breast-feeders share. So, instead I'm looking in to the possibility of donating the excess.  This may mean more coughing and sputtering from my little guy when I'm over producing on the weekends, but I think we will continue to cope it if means reducing the constant fear of loosing the one thing that connects me to him when I'm working.

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