For most mothers, breastfeeding is an entirely new experience and, as a result, is pretty unnerving. After all, there aren't too many times in your life when you'll find yourself producing milk from your body in order to feed another human being. Of course, if a mom decides to use a breast pump, the entire pumping process is entirely new, too. Experiencing something for the first time and being grossed out kind of, usually, go hand-in-hand, which is easily one of the many reasons why there are some gross things happen when you're pumping. Thankfully, these "gross" things are pretty normal, don't last forever and end up being your new "normal." Motherhood is just the most glamorous, right?
When I first started pumping, I was under the impression that it would be easy. I honestly thought all I had to do was follow the instructions my breast pump came with (it does help) and pumping would be an effortless experience. Nothing gross or weird or strange or even painful would happen because, hey, that lady on the front of the box the pump came in just looked the most happy. Yeah, that's definitely not how breast pumping works and that smiling lady is a lying liar face.
Thankfully, the more I began to pump the better I was at it and the more immune I was to the "gross" stuff. Still, looking back and waxing nostalgic about my first days of breast pumping usually gives me that all-too-familiar "freaked out" feeling, because it was kind of disgusting and a little gross. Whether it was the comments other people felt compelled to make, or the things that were happening to my body, breast pumping is just kind of this weird, gross things that breastfeeding mothers end up getting used. So, if you're pumping and consider it a pretty gross experience, know that you're not alone. Honestly, this stuff is pretty normal and like I've grown to love saying during almost every moment of motherhood, "This too shall pass."
You'll Definitely Leak Milk...
If you're a breastfeeding mother, you're bound to leak some milk every now and then. If you're engorged and you're looking to pump as soon as possible because ouch, you'll definitely leak. Sure, it's a little unsettling at first, but the longer you breastfeed and/or pump, the more you'll probably get used to this, um, side effect.
...And That Leaked Milk Will Get All Over Everywhere
Getting some "spilt milk" on your shirt is almost a given, but it's surprisingly gross to realize that your shirt won't be the only place your rogue milk will end up collecting. No matter where you're pumping, there's a good chance you'll make somewhat of a mess (especially if you're trying to pump and do a few other thing simultaneously, because multitasking is hard).
Hand Expressing Is A Thing
Honestly, this really shouldn't be considered "gross." I mean, it's your own body and it's somewhat sad that we live in a society that teaches women that their bodies are for others, and not themselves. After all, your breasts exist for more than just the sexual enjoyment of others.
However, I'm not one to downplay someone else's feelings and/or tell them they should feel comfortable with something when they're not. So, it's perfectly normal if you don't feel comfortable massaging your own breasts in order to stimulate milk flow or get yourself ready for the breast pump. Just know that if you do think this is "gross," it's very normal and so many breastfeeding mothers do it and, hopefully, you will get used ot it and see it as nothing more than a necessity.
Other People Might Watch...
If you're pumping in public or at work, it's sad to say but prepare to have someone stare at you. Until our culture changed and we, collectively, view women's bodies as more than just sexual entities, breastfeeding and/or breast pumping in public is always going to be judged and criticized. This is, in my opinion, the ultimate "ew." Just, like, no.
This is why #NormalizeBreastfeeding is so important. Our entire culture needs to change, so women don't have to "get over" this very gross, very horrible part of breastfeeding and breast pumping.
...And Comment Unnecessarily
Sigh. See above, but add another shiver and an eye-roll.
You'll Actually Watch Your Nipples Move
This is honestly kind of cool, but given how our culture treats the female nipple, I can see how others might think it's "gross." But, really, when you watch the pump work up close and personal, you can't help but just be in total awe. Our bodies are seriously incredible.
Your Nipples Can Go Numb
This honestly might be a great break from the pain you may or may not have experienced at the beginning of your breastfeeding and/or breast pumping journey. I mean, let's be real: this doesn't always feel the best, especially if you can't get the correct suction or your baby isn't latched properly. So, yeah, I'll take that tingling, numbing feeling any day.
You Actually Watch Milk Come Out Of Your Body
As you sit and watch to make sure that the pump is working correctly, you may get to the point of not only watching your nipples in the pump, but also watching the milk be sucked out of your breasts and slowly move and drop into the bottle.
Again, this isn't really "gross," it's really freakin' amazing, but I can see how some people would be a little off-putt by the entire process, at first. After all, if you're a new mom this is the first time you've ever seen milk come out of your body. Whoa.
Your Milk Doesn't Always Look Like Milk
Breast milk doesn't look like the milk we're used to buying in the grocery store, and if you're not familiar with breast milk and it's color, it can look a little gross at first. Turns out, breastmilk actually has a yellow tint to it, and very sticky. Then it will change after a few days to a more white shade, but a two-part shade of white: watery and creamy.