Pump ‘N Dump: The ‘Hot New’ Eating Disorder Trend All You New Moms Are Partaking In

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The Self Magazine article about disordered eating amongst pregnant and new mothers is not a shocker. I think it’s safe to say most expectant and new mothers are concerned with maternal weight gain, eating healthy during pregnancy, and losing the dreaded weight after the baby arrives. It’s an interesting survey, made even more interesting by the insertion of a new trendy eating disordered method of dumping the baby weight, which I really don’t believe is an actual true trend, pumping and dumping after weaning to shed excess baby weight.  Self quotes experts on disordered eating in the article, and Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D., director of the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program in Chapel Hill recounts a story of one bulimic mother who found a new way to control vomiting:

 She helped fight the urge to throw up by breast feeding: “It felt like purging and gave me the sense that I was burning more calories, like I was getting rid of something,” she says. Some women even breast-feed or pump only to shed calories, sometimes after the baby is weaned. This so-called pump purging “is something we have just started to notice,” Bulik says. It can be unhealthy for the mom if she starts to deplete her nutrients—for instance, if she is also purging food. And it’s disordered because, Bulik says, “psychologically, it’s twisting the function of lactation from something essential for life—feeding a child—to something that is part of the disorder—purging.”

Wait… this is a thing? Are you moms who have a child being weaned using one of those Medela pumps to extract milk so you can dump it and lose weight after your child is no longer attached at the breast?

Yeah, I dumped milk after a mojito too many at one point during my kid’s early years but I never considered using my pump as a weight loss aid. For one, I really hated pumping. Nursing I could deal with because it wasn’t some battery operated robotic suction monster that made my nipples sore and sounded like my Miele vacuum did after it ate a Lego guy. As a woman with her own disordered eating history, after giving birth the thought never crossed my mind to pump and dump as a way of shedding post baby pounds. I knew that breastfeeding was supposed to help in weight loss, but the idea of continuing to produce milk after my kids were weaned sounds a bit wonky to me. Is this one of those new non-news news articles that attempt to make something a thing even though no one is actually doing it? I find it very hard to believe new moms are going through the hassle of engorged breasts and having milk leak all over their cashmere sweaters in the hopes that pumping and dumping will help them shed postpartum weight. Besides, as any woman who has nursed before can tell you, it makes you hungry. Like crazy hungry. And thirsty. Wouldn’t the additional calories the body requires to produce milk sort of counteract the calories you burned while dumping a bottle of mother’s milk down the sink*?

I’m not sure about this. Is anyone using this method to shed post baby weight? Are any of you struggling with an eating disorder and pregnant? Did anyone out there resort to eating disordered behaviour to lose the post-baby weight?

*This video has nothing to do with breastfeeding or pumping and dumping. But it is a newborn kitten going batshit crazy for a bottle of milk. You’re welcome.

(Photo Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock)