being a mom

8 Things Not To Say To Moms Who Exclusively Pump

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This piece was inspired by my awesome sister Caitlin, who is currently exclusively breastfeeding (via breast pump and bottle) my nephew, who was born earlier this summer. He is less than three months old and she has already heard a plethora of ridiculous, judgmental BS from regular asshats galore. Why? Well she is a mom who exclusively pumps.

Moms who choose to breastfeed but exclusively pump pretty much get the best most ridiculous comments from both worlds. If people aren’t assuming you’re feeding your baby formula, they are pulling out the same stupid comments they reserve for women who breastfeed the traditional way.

The comments that moms who exclusively pump hear perfectly illustrates that no matter what you do, or what compromises you make, there will always be someone trying to rain on your (baby feeding) parade.

Here are 8 things not to say to moms who exclusively pump:

1. “I hope you tried it the right way first.”

I didn’t realize that there was a “right” way to feed your baby breastmilk. This one bothers me a lot because it always seems to come from the most militant lactivists. The same people who you would think would be happy that your child is getting breastmilk. But why focus on the positive when you can make a new mom feel like crap?

2. “Pumping will lower your milk supply.”

There are tons of ways to increase one’s milk supply for pumping, and pumping itself isn’t the issue. There is no reason why a mom who exclusively pumps can’t make just as much (if not more) milk than if she was nursing straight from the ta-ta. Most moms who pump exclusively are using hospital grade pumps or electrical pumps that do a great job at getting the milk out. Unless you’re a lactation specialist and you’ve been, ya know, ASKED, you should keep this comment to yourself.

3. “Just put your baby to the breast, it’s not that hard!”

Yes, because it’s JUST that easy, right? WRONG. There are tons of things that can make it difficult to nurse. Preemies often have trouble latching on, as do babies who need to be away from their mother in their early days due to medical reasons. Babies with cleft palates sometimes need to be fed through a bottle, and some women just see their breasts as sexual. Or they just don’t want to breastfeed straight from the boob but still want the benefits of breastmilk. But don’t say “just use the breast” as if it’s super simple and you’re a genius for thinking of it.

4. “When will you just switch to formula and get it over with?”

This comes from the opposite side of the spectrum from lactivists. People who say this don’t see why anyone would bother with the “hassle” of pumping all the time when there is formula available. While I obviously have ZERO issues with formula, I don’t see why anyone’s choices should be questioned. If a woman is choosing to pump exclusively so her baby can have breastmilk, that should be applauded, NOT judged.

5. Pointing at the bottle and saying “You know, breast IS best.”

My personal go-to answer for this would be “Oh, no, I figured I would go straight to Pepsi for little Jr. Never too soon to get started on childhood obesity!” Seriously though, why are you assuming it’s formula? Second of all, even if it WAS formula, why are you questioning some random person on their parenting choices? And don’t give me that “It IS my business” bullshit. You’re not an “Alpha Parent,” you’re an “Alpha Douche.”

6. “The value is in the act more than the milk itself so you’re baby won’t be as smart.”

When I heard that someone had said this to a new mom my first reaction was a desire to find that person and go all Hommie the Clown on their ass, but I managed to control myself. The benefits of touch for babies are well-known. But a mom touches her baby constantly, whether through baby-wearing, bottle feeding, or simply throughout the day’s normal routine. This one is downright silly.

7. “You’re just trying to be a martyr.”

The decision to pump exclusively can’t be an easy one. You pretty much have to be hooked up to a machine for hours each day, and you might not even be able to hold your baby while doing it (depending on the model pump you’re using). You might have the “freedom” of your partner being able to help with a bottle, but you still have all the restrictions of nursing (like limited booze), yup, that sounds totally martyr-ific to me. Actually, it doesn’t at all. There are pros and cons to every choice.

8. “Don’t you want what’s best for your baby?”

This is one that I think all moms get at least once. It doesn’t matter what choices you make. Whether you choose to breastfeed, or formula feed, etc. It happens whether you supplement or not, whether you wean at 12 months or nurse until your kid is in college. Which SUCKS.

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(Image: iStock / Pilin_Petunyia; originally published Aug 9, 2013 )