Sandy J. Green
MOMS WHO INSPIRE ME
I can’t believe February is almost over. The fact that I’ve been running my own business full-time for 2 months now is astonishing to me. When I first decided to build Taking Care of Mama, I was inspired by the idea of helping moms - all moms. I didn’t want to limit myself to just new moms, or just breastfeeding, or just pumping. I identified myself as a ‘full-range’ of support.
As I’ve delved deeper into this experience; however, I’ve realized something important. That my experience, my skills, and my passion is actually quite specific (and isn’t a surprise to anyone who knows me): I love breast pumps, the moms who use them, and the partners, bosses, and and systems that support them. So I decided to pivot the business to focus on what I know best - the support of pumping moms.
For me, pumping is tied into my feminism. Our breast pumps allow us to be breastfeeding moms AND working moms, social moms, active moms, and romantic moms. We can take control of our bodies and our breastfeeding journeys and for this reason, I LOVE breast pumps. But I know that for most women, pumping is arduous, unpleasant, and emotional. And while I believe in my heart that it is possible for pumping to be a successful and positive experience, it does take the right support system (and the right accessories).
My first task in this new direction was a bit of research. I wanted to talk to the moms who had been through various pumping experiences first hand. I had had plenty of my own experiences - traveling without Avi, pumping at work, and eventually exclusively pumping. And I had certainly counseled and given advice to other moms in similar situations. But I wanted to learn more. So I put out a call on a few Facebook groups asking for moms to share their stories. My request looked like this:
‘I'm looking for moms who are willing to share their pumping experiences - the good, the bad and the ugly.
I'm particularly interested in NICU experiences, exclusive pumping, returning to non-office jobs (like teaching, medical care, etc), and emergency pumping situations (like a hospital stay that separated you from your baby temporarily).
Stories will be kept private - it's for my own business research.
Coffee is on me.
I was blown away by the responses. Almost 70 moms offered to tell me their stories! Some of them left their details in the comments while others were open to a one-on-one conversation. I spent weeks talking to these mothers and these conversations were easily the best parts of my days. I was infinitely inspired by the mom of twins who pumped for one baby in the NICU while the other was home. By the hospitalist who pumped while writing patient reports. By the mom of a preemie who never intended to breastfeed at all, but pushed through 3 months of exclusive pumping to help her baby could grow and develop. By the teachers, lawyers, stay-at-home-moms, and writers who selflessly committed themselves to giving their babies the best they possibly could.
I learned a lot from these pumping interviews, as I call them. I learned to never doubt the power of a mother with a child who needs help. I learned that moms who will give everything they have to their children sometimes need permission to take care of themselves, too. And I learned that there isn’t nearly enough support for pumping moms. Too many of these moms had to rely on the advice of friends, mom groups on Facebook, and Google. They didn’t know that a lactation professional may be able to help with pumping. And all too often, they felt like pumping was due to a failure to breastfeed, and they were embarrassed to ask for help.
These beautiful strong women confirmed what I thought I knew - that there is a desire and need for pumping-specific lactation support. I’m so grateful that these moms felt comfortable to open up and share their stories, their challenges, and their successes with me.
If you have a pumping story that you’d like to share, please be in touch! You can send me a PM on Facebook or email me at Sandy@HowAboutMama.com. I would love to hear about your pumping journey.