Why I don’t hate my breast pump

Jul 26, 2013

You don’t have to look very hard to find a woman who hates her breast pump (try googling “I hate pumping”). The most recent vitriol I discovered was in a blog about the overemphasis of the post-baby bod.

The paragraph in question:

Recently Kristen Bell tweeted a picture of her breast pump from backstage at the CMAS, which she was hosting. It was one of the first times I’d ever seen a celebrity discuss an aspect of motherhood that felt real and relatable. And while most sites reported it as “LOL a breast pump!” to me it signaled much larger things: The challenges of being a working mom. The choices and sacrifices we have to make. The general awfulness of having your nipples suctioned by a plastic beast you paid a ton of money for. 

That last line made me cock my head to the side and ask, “Huh?”

I never understood how breast pumps worked until I pumped for the first time. See those little hoses? They just provide suction, and the only thing moving through the hoses is AIR. The milk goes from your boobs through the little funnels, and down into the jars. It never touches the machine or the little hoses (though if you let the jars overflow, it will!). Consider yourself educated.

I never understood how breast pumps worked until I pumped for the first time. So in case you were wondering, here’s a little lesson. See those little hoses? They just provide suction, and only AIR moves through them. The milk goes from your boobs into the little funnels, and drops straight down into the jars. It never touches the machine on the table or the little hoses (though if you let the jars overflow, it will!). Consider yourself educated.

My Peanut is almost a year old, and I work full time. Every workday at 11am, I put up my “Milking the Cow, Please Do Not Disturb” sign and lock my office door. It takes about half an hour, and I am able to keep working while I pump, usually knocking out some emails (sometimes I make phone calls, and I wonder, Do they know what that sound is?).

My coworkers send me an instant message if they need something while the cow sign is up. It takes about 20 minutes. When I’m done, I open my door and take down the sign (checking twice that I remembered to put my shirt down first). No big whoop.

Is it fun? No, not really, unless you are a really big fan of nipple stimulation (ha ha I said nipple). Most nursing mothers are sort of immune to it. I can’t hardly even feel it anymore.

Is it general awfulness? No, not at all. (Though I acknowledge not all working moms have a room with a locking door and an understanding employer. If you didn’t, everything surrounding the actual act of pumping might suck more.)

I don’t look forward to it — “I get to pump in thirty minutes!” — but neither do I dread it. Sure, it’s an inconvenience to stop what I’m doing to pump, but a lot about parenting is inconvenient. For example, today I made my dinner while carrying a 22-pound toddler, because she was having a “needy” day. Last Friday I put my makeup on while sitting on the bathroom floor — without a mirror — because Peanut would burst into tears if I wasn’t sitting next to her. I am pretty sure I looked like Bozo the Clown that day. Definitely inconvenient.

It’s not the mostawesomethingever, but I could never hate my pump. It’s allowed me to keep breastfeeding my Peanut despite going back to work full-time. It will be my saving grace when I take my first overnight trip away from her in September (*sob*). It’s allowed me to build up a supply of milk so she can enjoy mommy’s milk at daycare long past her first birthday (which is coming up in like 3 weeks, OMG).

I don’t love it. But I sure don’t hate it. How can you hate something that allows you to feed your baby the Best Stuff on Earth?

And in case you were wondering… yes, I pumped while I wrote this. 🙂



P.S. — I think some of the pump hatred is caused when women aren’t able to pump enough to feed their babies. I never experienced this, so perhaps that’s why I’m perplexed by pump-hate. If your pump didn’t get the job done, that would be a valid reason to hate it.


About Me

Hiya! I'm Lydia. I live in Iowa with my husband and two children, both the result of iVF. I started this blog in 2011, so everything here's a wee bit... old. I don't do a ton of writing anymore... but I'm leaving the blog up, in case it's helpful for those who stumble across it.

Skip to the iVF

If you're going through infertility and want to see our journey, start in June 2011 (first two cycles) or January 2014 (third cycle). Hopefully reading about our rollercoaster with assisted reproduction brings you a little hope, and more than a few giggles. (Keep in mind that this information is over a decade old in most cases; please don't take anything you read here as medical advice. Consult your doctor for facts.)

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1 Comment

  1. After my girls were in the NICU for three weeks, and breastfeeding was literally taking up every second of the day, I started pumping exclusively, which I did for about 14 months. I was lucky – I could fill two 8 oz bottles in 15 minutes or less! I think you’re right that it’s harder for those it doesn’t come easily for. I also have a very understanding work environment, but a girlfriend of mine who teaches first grade pumps in what is essentially a utility closet. Workplaces definitely need to step it up when it comes to accommodations for a pumping mama. No matter what though, it is a serious commitment and women who can continuously hook themselves up to the milk machine deserve a ton of credit…I definitely don’t mind patting myself on the back for that one! Sometimes I still can’t believe I did it for that long.


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