What about breastfeeding partners? We hear from one.
What about partners?
So last week was international breastfeeding week - the theme was support. I'd already planned a post from a pumping partner for Fathers Day '21 so thankfully they coincide.
Exclusively pumping is a huge commitment to make. In the very beginning, you'll be pumping every 3 hours and with that, there will be pump parts and bottles needing a wash, as well as feeding, changing and settling a newborn baby. For whatever reason you choose to become an EP-er, I urge you to consider getting help with some of the tasks that come with this feeding choice.
Whether that's a partner, family member or dear friend, life will be a little easier with another pair of hands.
I do want to say, it isn't just exclusively pumping breastfeeding that needs support. All new parents should have a support system - they're hugely beneficial for new parents to be able to adapt to the new changes in their lives and get some rest. However, with EP, there's the milk making responsibilities AND the bottle feeding responsibilities so I'd say a support system is extra important.
Last weekend (20th June 2021) was Fathers' Day. A day to celebrate the paternal people in our lives. I asked a pumping partner for their experience with exclusive pumping and this is what they sent me. I hope you enjoy hearing about EP-ing from a different perspective and if your family dynamic hasn't been represented please feel free to send your story to email@example.com - I would love for all families to have their voices heard!
The experience of a pumping partner
Callum, 31 - has been a partner to a pumping mum for the last year and here is what he had to say about his experience.
It became clear in the first few days of our son being born that breastfeeding just wasn’t going to happen for him. Try as we might, he just didn’t know what to do. So we made an early decision that instead of trying to force it, we’d look at other options. The midwives at Royal Sussex Hospital told us to give pumping a try and it seemed like the best alternative option – he would still get the nutritional benefits of breastmilk, but he’d be getting it from the bottle instead. We never looked back from that moment on and we’re still going strong 11 months later.
Being a partner of someone who pumps really makes you admire and appreciate the effort that goes in to feeding a baby, particularly in those early months. My partner would be pumping up to eight times a day, at all times of day or night. The gentle hum of a pump became a familiar soundtrack to early mornings in our house.
Here are a few observations and words of advice from my time as a pumping partner:
Be ready to be hands-on. Pumping becomes much harder if you’re not willing or able to chip in with what’s needed. Your partner will have her hands full several times a day so it’ll be up to you to keep your little crawler from causing too much mischief.
Make things as comfortable as you can for your partner. I always make my partner breakfast for her morning pump, get her a glass of water if she needs one and generally make sure she has what she needs before a pumping session.
Establish a routine
Get ready to sterilise. A lot. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of bottles, teats and pump components I’d be sterilising every day. My biggest piece of advice would be to invest in an electric steriliser as it makes life much easier. My other piece of advice would be to not put a plastic steriliser on a hob that you’ve left on (one of my more dramatic errors!)
Finally, NEVER pour milk down the sink without checking first. I learnt this the hard way – I saw a bottle on the kitchen side and thought it was an old one and got rid of it. After all the hard work that goes in to producing a bottle, it’s safe to say my partner was not happy! I’ve not done that again.
Above all, it’s important to remember the incredible lengths your partner is going to for your baby. It’s not been an easy journey but I’m so proud of her for getting this far, and I hope I helped her along her pumping experience.
Thank you Callum, for your words on the experience of being an exclusive pumping partner. Thank you for doing all the washing up - it has been a huge help and definitely extended our pumping journey.
I hope this article can help any other partners wondering how they can help their EP-er.
This article is that of the opinion of the author. Consult your health visitor or GP if you want any medical advice. Little Pumpling uses affiliate links and referral codes to help maintain the community it creates. The links do not add a cost to you but if you choose to purchase an item using them we receive a small commission. Think of it as a small thank you to the author for the time and dedication taken to provide you with information on Exclusive Pumping.
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