A friend of mine recently had her second baby in May. She gave birth to her first in August 2021. While they weren’t actively trying to get pregnant, they weren’t not trying to get pregnant, so she got pregnant the second time around “accidentally,” and realized quickly that she’d be one of those parents who had “two under two” very soon. While she did not successfully breastfeed her first due to lack of knowledge and education, she decided that with this second child, she’d at least try to pump. She’s about 12 weeks postpartum now, and pumping about four times a day. She produces about half of what baby needs and tops up with formula. While we were on a video chat with another friend yesterday night, she was connecting to her breast pump and putting on a hands-free pumping bra, feeling embarrassed.
“Yvonne, did you know that I didn’t even know these hands-free pumping bras even existed until a week ago when a friend told me about them?” she said, laughing. “She told me, and then I immediately ordered it. I don’t know how I pumped this whole time without it! It’s been life changing!”
“Ahhhhh! You should have asked me! I would have told you way earlier!” I responded back, feeling bad.
“That’s the thing: I didn’t even know what to ask! You don’t know what you don’t know,” she replied, sighing and feeling dejected.
She’s totally right, though. When you’re on a journey as black-box-ish as breastfeeding and pumping, you really have no idea what to ask; you just hope that the people and resources who are supposed to be educating you will actually tell you everything you need. You really do NOT know what you don’t know, so how do you even begin to ask? So it’s sad when the experts you (or your insurance) pay money to just don’t arm you with all that information, then don’t give you the adequate time to ask and learn with them. And that’s what makes breastfeeding so hard in this country. We don’t have all the adequate resources to even know what questions to ask. Even though I weaned earlier this year, I still think about how frustrating this lack of knowledge and awareness is all the time and how my journey with breastfeeding Kaia could have looked so different if I just had all the right information upfront before she was even born. I’m happy that my friend is trying this second time, though, and that she has a second shot at it.