The breastfeeding world can be noisy and overwhelming. Sometimes it’s exclusionary, especially for women who don’t exclusively breastfeed their babes straight from the breast. The way we choose to feed our babies is a personal decision. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Parents have to decide what will work best for their babies, their families, and themselves. It can be a challenging decision. That difficult choice can be made even more difficult by feeling ostracized or judged if the chosen feeding method isn’t what society has deemed is “best.”
Infant Feeding Facts
We are aware of the many health benefits of breastfeeding. We know that babies who are breastfed have lower risks of asthma, ear infections, eczema, childhood leukemia, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and SIDS than babies who are not fed breastmilk. Breastfeeding also helps protect mothers’ health by lowering the risk of certain types of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Breastfeeding is beneficial to both women and babies. But it’s not always a viable option.
Women choose alternative feeding methods, like bottle feeding pumped breastmilk, for a variety of reasons. None of those methods are any less valid than the decision to breastfeed, and none of them are anyone else’s business.
How a woman chooses to use her body, or not use her body, to feed her baby is her decision. Helping women make informed choices, and advocating for them even when they make choices that look different than yours, is an invaluable part of postpartum support. There are many ways World Breast Pumping Day encourages and supports women to confidently make the feeding choice that’s right for them.
Reasons World Breast Pumping Day Is Great
- Stand up, stand together. World Breast Pumping Day gives us the chance to celebrate different feeding choices women make. It’s important to acknowledge the time, energy, and dedication pumping requires, and to honour the love in every ounce. It’s an opportunity for women, from mamas-to-be to mothers-of-many, to stand together, no matter how they choose to feed their babies, and support each other without judgment or shame.
- Get it done. Pumping is time-consuming. Feeding a baby pumped breastmilk is time-consuming. Not only does a woman need to spend time pumping, she also needs to clean her pump parts and bottles, properly package and store her expressed milk, and, of course, feed the baby. It’s like combining all the time and work of breastfeeding and formula feeding. It can take twice as long as feeding straight from the breast or formula feeding. Pumping moms get it done.
- Book it. A pumping mom’s world revolves around her boobs, especially in the early days when a woman’s breasts need to be drained every two to three hours to maintain an adequate breastmilk supply. The mental load of motherhood is amplified for pumpin’ mamas. Scheduling appointments, meetings, and commutes around a pumping schedule can take complex logistical planning. Not to mention the sleep lost due to middle-of-the-night pumping sessions.
- Quiet the haters. Society is unforgiving. Shout out to the elderly woman who told me “that better be breastmilk in that bottle” while I was trying to feed my screamy baby. Thanks, complete stranger at the coffee shop, for making me feel judged, inferior, and defensive. World Breast Pumping Day creates an inclusive atmosphere that has no room for humiliation or belittlement. The reality is that some women will not reach their original breastfeeding goals. World Breast Pumping Day gives them a space to acknowledge and mourn the loss, while celebrating their achievements and embracing their new path.
- Normalize it. The more we talk about pumping, combo feeding, supplemental nursing systems, and the myriad other ways we feed our babies, the more we normalize infant feeding. Recognizing yourself in someone else’s story, or someone else’s struggle, is a powerful feeling. World Breast Pumping Day makes space for the mom pumping beside her preemie’s NICU bassinet, the corporate mom who pumps while on business trips, the surrogate, the formula feeder, the combo feeder, the chest-feeder who uses an SNS, the mom whose baby was born with a cleft palate, the mom who pumps in memory of her angel baby, and more.
It Takes A Village
We’re not raising our babies with the same village of aunties, friends, and support systems that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had surrounding them. We need to use our voices and form our own digital villages to uplift and inform those who come after us. World Breast Pumping Day encourages us to raise our flanges and toast the amazing moms who are feeding their babies with love, honour, and devotion.