My Breasts vs the Machine

About a month ago, I sat down to pump and got less than one ounce of milk. I thought it was strange, since it’d been hours since my son nursed, but I’d had a stressful day and assumed my body was just fed up. I had about two ounces in the freezer, so I sighed and went to bed, knowing that work the next day would include a stop to feed my son directly.

The next time I went to pump, I got only a few drops of milk. I began to panic. This is what happened with my first son–my breasts stopped letting down for the pump. I worked with lactation consultants, I swallowed gallons of fenugreek. I listened to hypnosis and meditation tracks, tried hand expression. None of it helped. So, when my older son and I were separated, he drank formula.

I vowed to avoid this experience for DS2! I even cut back to working very part-time, and from home, to avoid this very scenario. Our family made many sacrifices and changes so this could happen. Thus, I felt so angry that my body had, again, stopped producing milk for the pump. Why? Why, body??

I further shifted my life so that I was never separated from my baby for more than a few hours–until I had a 10-mile training run this past weekend in preparation for my upcoming half marathon. I ended up separated from him for 4 hours. Truthfully, at 20 pounds and 11.9 months old, he should be able to go 4 hours without nursing, so I wasn’t stressed.

My husband fed our son scrambled eggs, Cheerios, applesauce, all sorts of things, and put him down for a nap. I even had time to shower when I got home, though my breasts were bursting waiting for Felix to wake up. Just for the heck of it, I tried to pump.

Not until I was hooked up to the breast pump did I realize that perhaps my breasts were not the problem at all. I noticed the darn motor was not functioning properly! My breast pump had stopped suctioning milk. I stared at it, stunned.

For a month, I’d been upset with my body, stressed out, angry. And it was the pump malfunctioning.

Two things happened next. First, I had a long think about why I’m so quick to mistrust my body when it comes to breastfeeding. Why is “breast-failure” the first conclusion I make each time I run into a snag? I felt angry that I hadn’t thought to assess the machinery first, before I made an assumption about my biological functions. I mean, when the clutch sticks in my car, I take it to the mechanic. I don’t just assume I suddenly forgot how to drive stick after 16 years.

So, second, I snagged another pump to get me through the 3 remaining weeks until my baby turns one. Heck, with a functional apparatus, I might be inspired to pump a wee bit beyond the one-year mark.

*A phone call to the manufacturer should result in prompt service, if this should happen to you. *

I’m also making a promise to recite affirmations while I’m nursing. It’s clearly important to me to have reminders that my body is just fine! When I look down at my baby breastfeeding, I want to tell him and myself¬†my body is functioning beautifully to create the nourishment you need.¬†Hopefully, we’ll get through this next month without incident.

Did you ever have a breast pump malfunction for you? How did you realize it was the pump at fault? Leave a comment to share your experience.

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