When you are pumping milk, a number of best practices should be followed in order to maximize the milk that you produce for each pump session. Some of these include applying heat to and massaging your breasts before pumping, breast compressions while pumping, and making sure to moisturize your nipples with something that is baby safe like shea butter to prevent cracking or drying out. I usually do all of these things, but I especially applied heat a lot during the first several months of pumping, particularly because it was just very cold since we were in the dead of winter. I used different types of heating pads that needed to be boiled and rehydrated over the stove, and while I used them pretty religiously for the first three months, I got tired of how much preparation went into rehydrating them every single day, multiple times per day, particularly since at that point, I was pumping seven times per day. I ended up reserving the heat pads mostly for my last evening pump as well as my middle of the night pumps. That reduced the amount of heat pad preparation that I had to do. In the beginning, Chris would always boil all of the heat pads for me, but as time went on, I ended up doing it myself and got annoyed at the tedious process. But then, I remembered while rummaging through one of our closets that we had Beddy Bear.
Beddy Bear is a teddy bear that has raw rice stuffed into his belly. You warm him up in the microwave for about 2 1/2 minutes, and then he basically is a heat pad for you, without any need to rehydrate over boiling water on the stove. This certainly beats waiting for water to boil in a large pot and then allowing the heat pads to rehydrate for about 20 minutes every single time I use them. Because he was so low maintenance, I started just using him to heat up my boobs for certain pump sessions. And he was working quite well. Well, that is… until he actually burned me. A couple days ago, I heated him up for my last evening pump session, and when I put him on my breast, I must have been very sleepy because a few seconds later, I felt a strong burning sensation on the top of boob. I immediately removed him and touched my breast. Crap, I thought. I think I might have overheated him. Or did I? He must have gotten too hot, and I probably should have waited for him to cool a bit before I put him on my breasts.
The next morning after my shower, I looked at myself in the mirror and noticed that the bruises that are on the top of my breast from breast compressions had gotten even more conspicuous and darker. I looked closely at my breasts in the mirror: ahhhh, I thought. These new bruises are burn marks from Beddy Bear! I can’t believe my teddy bear burned me! And this is all just for breast milk for my baby…
I thought this before, and I still believe this now: breast-feeding is truly a mother’s gift to her child. It is completely selfless and done 100% out of pure love and the desire to give our babies the most we possibly and physically are able to give. Being a pumping mama is hard ass work, but I have not regretted a second of it. I love watching my baby thrive and grow while primarily having my breast milk as her main form of food. I will always be a little bit sad that nursing did not work out for us, but I am grateful for my milk production, even when it was not that great in the beginning, and even now, when it is still shy of 100% meeting my baby’s needs. I am grateful that I have this opportunity and privilege to feed my baby with food from my own body.