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January 17, 2006

breast pump mystique

New mom and Brokeback Mountain actress Michelle Williams recently told USA Today: "I love being a young parent ... It's me, the baby and the breast pump." So nice to hear reference to the breast pump! The pump seems to be such a weird sort of secret. I get why we use it in private but I just still cannot get over how little (NOTHING) I knew about the breast pump until fairly close to the point where I actually needed one. When I first saw one in use I was shocked and thought it was actually pretty hilarious. Like something out of Woody Allen's Sleeper. I have since told non-mother friends about the pump (the suction cups, the tubes, the squirting of the milk into plastic receptacles, the "hands free" bra contraptions, the signs on my office door, the swirl of teary hormones in the middle of a workday, the freezer packs, storage guidelines... ) and they laughed, too. Surprised not so much that we do all this stuff but that it's so UNKNOWN to the uninitiated. Some reasons I can think of that it's meant to be mother's little secret:

Dairy farm imagery is too big an affront to Madonna & Child breastfeeding fantasy.

The pump is like a box of maxi-pads--something women need but details of usage need not be aired.

We're supposed to "cover" our identities as mothers when in workplace (where many women pump).

Boobs are just not supposed to be functional... and nothing says functional like a battery operated suction cup clamped to an engorged teat.

by ceridwen at 4:37 PM
in baby | breastfeeding | breastfeeding | media momming


I didn't know ANYTHING about breast pumps until a few weeks after i had my baby and i realized that the BP was my ticket to an hour or two of guilt-free freedom to go to the gym or whatever. I immediately bought the newest model and, when it arrived, handed my husband the baby to figure the thing out. Now every time i use it to drop a bag into the fridge or the freezer i have such a sense of satisfaction. I guess it's knowing that I can still take care of my baby when I'm not around.

comment by anne at February 12, 2006 12:30 AM

I am dying because I spent every free moment during my teaching day crouched under a desk pumping praying a ten year old boy wouldn't come walking through the door and be scarred for life by my ginormous breasts and scary pumping equipment! Pumping rules!

comment by Becky at February 13, 2006 10:32 PM

My grandfather bought me a pump because he reads a lot of medical journals and knew that breastfeeding is best for the baby. I thought this was a hilarious gift and had no idea that it would be part of my every day life. Definitely in the category of things I didn't know before birth.

I think you'll enjoy reading the stories we posted on The Pumping Project at RookieMoms.com.

comment by Whitney at February 22, 2006 4:05 PM

I remember renting a pump from the hospital after my first daughter was born and wondering not only how it worked, but whether it would work. And I remember hooking it up for the first time, and, feeling somewhat like a dairy cow, watching (with my husband) in amazement as the pump did its job. Now that my first daughter is 2 1/2, she watches while I pump milk for her sister, and asks all of the questions that you'd expect from a bright toddler. (Mind you, she's also tried to nurse some of her babies, and understands that daddy can't feed sissy because "daddy's boobs don't have milk in them").
My breastpump has traveled many places with me, from Hawaii to Arizona. It has made it through airport security without a hitch. (Except the time that the security screener opened up the bag, not knowing what it was. I calmly explained to him that it was a breastpump, and he immediately stopped digging around, and looked embarassed for some reason.) It served me well with my first daughter, and continues to serve me well with my second.

comment by Stacey at February 25, 2006 12:52 AM

I guess I'm one of the lucky ones - my mom used a breast pump with many (if not all) of my four younger siblings, so it has definately not been a mystery to me. The one she used (we're talking the 80's here) was completely manual, so I'm looking forward to the 'dairy cow' experience of the automated machines when my time comes.

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comment by abigael at November 3, 2009 7:54 AM

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