Pumping Your Way into Work

I met a friend after a few years. An all in all career woman who breaks more investigative stories in a year than most journalists do in a career. She is single and there are no kids in her immediate family either. 

Guess what, she has never ever heard of a breast pump. She didn’t know what purpose it served or how it was supposed to help me.  (Here’s why should you use a breast pump!)

Now the breast pump has been my life saviour! I have survived raising an allergy baby and keep a career, all thanks to my pump. As I geared back into a job the second time and left my little one behind for three days, my saviour, my best friend — the pump, came to my rescue again. 
To all those, like my friend, who don’t know, a breast pump is a small machine that you hook to your breast and it pumps milk out for you. You can store this milk for later use or throw it away. Simply save yourself a ton load of pain as your breast swells up and struggles in the absence of a suckling baby.
Pumping is time-consuming. If you need to use it very regularly,
I would recommend an electric double breast-pump 

However, I also understood in that meeting that there are so many layers to parenting that most people who don’t go searching for information never know. The image they carry is of the awesome love-hate relationships that babies and their parents share, the adorable situations, the beautiful baby shower and baby welcome posts and pictures that come on their social media networks.

The struggles of latching and breastfeeding, engorgement of breasts, the physical aches and pains of motherhood, the emotional side effects, postpartum that can hit you any time of the journey, those are not in-your face conversations. Little things, contraptions like the pump, the breast pad, that women like me take for granted, other women go by without knowing. We nag women to become wives and mothers through their youth without ever showing them the real picture. 

I know it’s difficult for fathers too. The gentleman next to me on the flight, spent most of it watching videos of his baby in action. I felt so terrible for him. Unfortunately young mothers have to carry the pain of the baby they leave behind, physically as much as emotionally. 

I think the conversations are slowly starting but it is important to pull the curtains off. Grihalakshmi sparked a controversy by showing a breastfeeding mom…some offended by the breast, some by the sexualisation of the process. Either which ways, I am happy it started a conversation. Would I be happier if they had shown a real mother breastfeeding, with her stretch marks in all her reality? Absolutely!

But it helped us realise that we shame women if they choose not to breastfeed. We get uncomfortable if they choose to breastfeed in the public spaces or if they turn around and say, I can’t continue this meeting, my breasts are killing me! And our workplaces never make it easy for us. Most offices have no private spaces where young mothers could pump…I don’t even see a culture where they are aware of this need! On one side, I know I can’t expect them to do anything about it till they are aware of such a need. On the other need, there is a culture that expects women deal with these issues without a fuss and women like me, continue to do so, because we want to keep playing the roles of superwomen. 

My friend asked to speak about it. Tell more women about how my pump makes it easy for me and millions of others. About how I had to sit up pumping five bottles to ensure my firstborn, an allergy baby, had sufficient milk while I was at work the next day. How now as I travel, as a breastfeeding mom, the pump helps me relieve my engorged breasts and all the side effects that come with it…
Let some others know that we can try to balance it all. Sometimes though we need some help and the backing of a supportive spouse and family, understanding colleagues and friends and our very own breast pump! 

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