Ten Hard Times - For Expressing Mummies

The hardest thing about expressing is the exhaustion. There have been so many times that I have closed the door from the world and sat and cried.

You have a newborn who isn't sleeping through the night and then you have to get up and force yourself to express your milk at 2:00am, then 4:00am, then 6:00
am. All you want to do is sleep.

Exclusively expressing is by far the best decision I ever made, but the early days made me want to give up. My boy didn't start sleeping for longer periods of time until he was eight months old (three weeks ago and daddy can't do the night feeds due to his working hours), so by the time I had expressed for about twenty minutes, then fed my baby, then repeated all that again it literally felt like there was no point in even trying to sleep. By the time I had pumped sometimes I was wide awake, other times my eyes were closing on their own and then other times I'd forget to pump completely and wake up in a panic that I wouldn't get enough milk for my baby that day. Expressing takes dedication, support, watching your baby grow up strong and healthy, and finally chocolate.

As time has gone on it has gotten easier as now I know that if I skip some pumps it won't affect me too badly. If you exclusively express here are some facts for you:

1. You WILL be exhausted. Absolutely exhausted to the point where you have never felt such exhaustion before. You'll wonder how to get through your next pump. You'll pray for a family member to help for a little bit so you can have a nap - but then wait, you'll have to set another blooming alarm to express again in two hours anyway...

2. You'll dream of the day where you can leave longer gaps between each pump, you'll give it a go and it will be too early and you'll have 6oz less for your baby that day. You'll spend it using the stock you have in the freezer that you were hoping to save, and spend the day stressing like crazy about if this will effect your supply for good. So today you pump even more often. You are even more tired, but you don't really think about that today as you are more worried about getting your milk supply back up.

3. Your baby will cry and you will look at him or her and literally want to beg him or her to stop crying. You are doing your best. You are trying to give your baby the best milk you can, even if for whatever reason breastfeeding didn't work out. But baby won't stop crying. You are trying to pump so can't pick them up and cuddle them for another ten minutes, but you really need to pump... Please be happy my little baby!

4. You WILL drop some milk at some point. Hopefully it won't be much, but it may be a 9oz bottle full (like me). You WILL cry (also like me). You WILL be short of milk that day and either have to pump like crazy or use your stock up, or supplement with formula. It will hurt. It will be hard. You CAN cry over spilled milk.

5. You just want to play with your baby. Cuddle them, be with them but that pump is always going to divide you. Daddy or nanny has to hold him or her while you express. You want to put them to sleep but you are due to pump. It is breaking your heart but all you want is to give your baby your milk. You are trying so, so hard.

6. You have to go out. you actually have to leave the house. But you only have two hours. You pump as close as you can before heading out the door so you have more time. You've forgotten nappies or wet wipes because you were in such a rush to get out. You only have ten minutes left before you need to pump. Your stuck in traffic or haven't finished getting everything you need. You get home, half an hour late for pumping, grab your pump before you have even taken your coat off, baby is still sat in his or her pram and is quiet for now but is bound to start crying when they realize your plan is to leave them in there for fifteen minutes. Your trying to pump, baby is crying again. What will the neighbors think?

7. Has that milk been left out too long? You hope not! you give it a good sniff, checking it out. Please don't tell me it has gone off? You will cry if it has gone off! Has it been six and a half hours? The room is quite cool though isn't it? A couple of oz that have been out half an hour too long surely won't hurt right? Tell me I'm right?

8. Baby just spat a big mouthful of precious milk out and has started to cry. Your going to cry too. Please don't waste that liquid gold. Just turn your head away if you don't want it baby, please!

9. Some family members want to take you and your new precious baby out for the day, how cool will that be? but wait, Will you have to pump in front of them? Are you going to have to carry your pump around? How can you store the milk so that it is fresh when it is in a car all day? How will you keep the bottles sterile? What if you can't pump enough, then you can't resort to your freezer stash and baby will starve. Never mind, you decide not to bother trying to go on a day trip.

10. You get the flu. You want to curl up in bed but daddy is at work and baby still needs looking after. Guess what? You still have to pump. You WILL sit and cry. You WILL pray for daddy or nanny to come home soon. You WILL want to give up. And you can't even take medicine because technically, you are breastfeeding and you can't let that get through to your baby. You still need to be close to your baby too so that your supply is stimulated so nobody can give you a tiny well deserved hours break, even though you don't want a break from your baby, yet your body is crying out for one. But nope, that's a no-go too.

But guess what. It gets easier. So much easier. I have exclusively expressed for nine months and I think it is by far the hardest feeding method out there, but your baby is getting your antibodies. Your baby is getting immunity from certain colds that you have had. Your baby is getting lower chances of all of those illnesses they told you about in your baby classes while you were pregnant.

Why have I written this article, it is enough to put anybody off exclusively expressing isn't it? Yes but that isn't my aim. I want anybody that does it to know that they are not alone. They will feel everything I have listed above. They will feel like they are so alone. I want mummies to know that they are not and that it gets better and it is hard. You can cut down on pumping when baby gets older, and it really does zoom by. Just keep going, it will be worth it, I promise.

My favorite thing is that in nine months I have had six colds. I have one right now. My son has only caught one from me so far and that was the worst cold I have had in a long time. I am the only person that looks after him all day until his daddy comes home. So I have seen the way that my milk has protected him from bugs. I see him growing into a big strong healthy little man. I know the tired nights were worth it. I know that I can now do this for a year. I know that I will carry on.

It is worth every single exhausting expressing session. Good luck.

Boneata Bell

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