If we are going to name one aspect of motherhood that comes with more "rules" than I can count, it’s breastfeeding and its evil cousin, pumping. Thankfully, I went through the ringer so that friends and family members (and you) don't have to, and I can tell you that after careful consideration and an unforgiving learning curve, I've realized that there are a few things things you actually don't have to do when pumping, even though everyone tells you that you do.
Anyone who’s is either planning to be a parent or has since became a parent, has been on the receiving end of tons of (often unsolicited) parenting advice; some of it welcome and some of it, well, not so much. There are countless things that new moms are told that they "should do," like sleep when the baby sleeps, or avoid pacifiers, or really, just try to avoid serious injury and illness while simultaneously doing all of the things and never succumbing to complete exhaustion or self-doubt. New mothers are under so much pressure, and it's usually because the expectations are ridiculously high.
The common suggestions tossed around about breastfeeding should be taken as just that: suggestions. I’m not saying that you’ll never want to consider what other moms say or how they've managed to breastfeed or breast pump, it’s just that you don’t always have to. Here’s a few solid examples of the things you really don't have to do when you're pumping milk for your baby, because no one knows better than you, mom.
By all means, please do go hands-free if you want to go hands-free. However, I think there's something to be said for forcing yourself to sit still and do nothing but hold the pump horns in place because, let's be honest; if you're a new mom, pumping is probably the only downtime you will have all day.
Binge-Watch All The TV
Did I watch a lot of TV when pumping? Yes, yes I did. However, do I think that's the only way that other moms should pass the time if they're doing the same? Absolutely not. You can read or work or carry on conversations, if that's more your style. Seriously, the sky is the limit when it comes to how you choose to pass the pumping time.
Look At Pictures Of Your Kid
Maybe it helps you. Or, maybe it feels too emotional or stressful to be reminded that, for whatever reasons, you're not feeding your baby in person. I could totally see that, too. Either way, you do you.
Take The Time To Multi-Task
Yeah, no. I'm not going to try to order pizza or search for something online right now. I'm going to zone out and try not to think about how I've slept a total of eight hours in the past three days.
Massage Your Breasts
Disclaimer: yes, this one can actually help. However, it can also be a little excessive to turn every session into like an intense, grabby experience that's only designed to maximize your output. When you're constantly being grabbed and you have no personal space and you're in danger of being "touched out," a self-massage can be more hurtful than helpful, at times.
Complain About It
While it's true that many pumping moms are open about their feelings about pumping, that in no way means that every mom has to to be. Some moms like breast pumping. In fact, some mothers credit breast pumping for saving their breastfeeding experience or upping their supply or helping with oversupply.
Freak Out If It Spills
Yes, it's terrible to spill breast milk. Yes, it's a shame to lose something so important and something you've worked hard to collect. However, there comes a point, and it's usually when your freezer is overflowing with extra milk, that a loss of a few ounces is not an absolute tragedy.
Pump When Everyone Says You Should
If there's anyone out there who tries to make you feel like you should be pumping when they did, and not when it's best for you, please let me know. Seriously.
Feel Any Specific Way About It
There's no right or wrong way to feel about something that, quite literally, can both cause you pain and free you from it. Breast pumps are like throw back Britney Spears pop hits played at a slightly discomforting volume. Like, you're so glad they exist, but they can still drive you crazy.