Recently in my facebook feed the article on Romper by Jamie Kenney “12 Things Grown-Ass Men Do For Their Partners Who Are Breastfeeding” popped up in my feed. Since I was, at the time, still breastfeeding (which can been an all-consuming activity) I was intrigued. I agree with some of her points wholeheartedly such as ‘don’t be weird about boobs’ and ‘don’t complain about having to “share the boobs”’ (and for the record they are MY BOOBS THANK YOU!). I have been thinking of my own journey with breastfeeding and more importantly as a full-time working mom PUMPING. Here are my ‘5 simple ways to support your pumping partner’.
Clean It Up
I can definitively say that my husband washed my pump parts far more times than I did. He’s most excited now that I’m done pumping that he doesn’t have to wash the parts ever again! Be a good partner – know what the parts are, how they come apart and how they’re cleaned.
One of the most devastating things for a mother who’s pumping is to see any precious milk go to waste. One of the sneakiest culprits of this is a leaky milk storage bag. It can literally bring a mom to tears. Keep an eye on the bags while they’re thawing and when necessary save any of that ‘liquid gold’ from going literally down the drain.
Take the Wheel… or the Baby… or the Baby and the Toddler…
For me there was a clear tipping point where breastfeeding was no longer an option but pumping was. Not only was pumping an option, it was a very necessary one. Drive the car so she can get a pump session in on a road trip. Take the baby, or in my case the baby and the toddler, so that she can get a quick session in.
After our kids were put to bed for the night I’d pump one more time before I retired for the evening… (and by ‘retired for the evening’ I mean promptly passed out until a screaming infant woke me in the middle of the night). My husband would sit up with me and watch TV while I pumped. It was a small gesture but so appreciated. He made me feel like I wasn’t in this alone.
One day this breastfeeding ride will come to an end, for some that may be sooner than others. If you’re like me, and likely most women everywhere, you’ll feel a mixture of excitement (yay my body is MINE again!) and guilt (should I try to keep going?!). You reach a point where it’s like squeezing water from a stone – it just ain’t gonna happen. And that’s OK! You want your body to be your own again? That’s OK too! Support your partner, celebrate the triumph of a freezer full of milk. Assure her that everything will alright and that she did a great job. More importantly pop some bottles because the days of abstaining from alcohol are over!
As an aside…
You know something funny? Inevitably as a working mom in an office setting your co-workers will get a glimpse of something related to pumping at some point. Most notably me sterilizing my parts in a Medela Steam Bag* in the kitchen microwave. More often than not the women in my office knew NOTHING about what I was doing but there were a handful of fathers around my age that did. They knew the terminology, the gear, the struggle, everything. They were a source of support that I didn’t expect to find at work.
*By the way the ONLY brand to buy is Medela in regard to a steam bag, they’re super sturdy! Trust me do not waste your money on generic.