I’ve never been a big fan of setting goals. I groaned a little writing the title of this post. I guess I just don’t like the pressure. I don’t want to feel like a failure if I set a goal and don’t reach it.
But even I have found that it’s important to set goals when you’re pumping (or breast feeding of any kind) because, let’s be honest, pumping sucks. Whether you’re just pumping at work, or exclusively pumping, it’s a lot of work, it’s frustrating, it’s exhausting, and it’s just overall a pain in the ass! There will be plenty of times when you’ll want to quit – and if you do decide to quit, that’s ok! It takes a lot of time to regain a feeling of normalcy after having a baby, and in my limited experience, pumping delays that even further.
But if you’re like me, you might be a little impulsive, especially when you’re emotional, and you end up making decisions that you wouldn’t have made with a level head. When I was debating whether or not to try to continue direct nursing, my sister told me “never quit on a bad day.” While you can easily apply that to anything, it’s definitely true about pumping. Although it’s not something you can just quit overnight, I don’t want to hastily decide to start weaning before Peyton and I are ready. Setting goals has helped hold myself accountable in those moments when I’m overcome with frustration.
It’s a good idea to do some research before you set your own pumping goals. You are more likely to stick with your goals if you have a reason behind them, rather than just an arbitrary timeline. The World Health Organization recommends giving babies breast milk for at least the first six months, when most babies can begin to eat solid foods. Breast milk has so many benefits for babies though, so it’s a good idea to give it as long as you can, even if it’s just a few ounces a day.
Tips for Goal-Setting
SMART has become a popular acronym to help people more successfully set goals.
Specific – This is pretty easy for our purposes: breast pumping or supplying breast milk to LO.
Measurable – Determine specifics so you know what you’re aiming for. How many bottles of breast milk are you wanting to give your LO per day? How often/how many times per day are you going to pump (ppd)?
Attainable – You must be in control of achieving your goals. If you are a “goldilocks” (you produce just enough for your baby) or an under supplier, accept your physical limitations and don’t strive to produce more than you are capable. This will only lead to disappointment and frustration.
Realistic – Similar to attainable. If you are working full time and have another child, is it really going to be feasible for you to pump eight times per day for two years?
Time-based – Giving yourself a time limit can be a huge relief. This won’t be your life forever; one day you won’t have to be hooked up to a machine every few hours! Determine what is best for your baby, and also what is best for you.
I also recommend setting short-term and long-term goals. Use the short-term goals as a way to measure the progress of your long-term goals so that you can revise them if you need to.
My long-term goal is to pump four to six times per day until Peyton is one year old. I may decide to continue pumping after that, or just give her whatever frozen supply I have. Short-term, my goal is to pump until she is six months old. Right now, I’m at five ppd and I will continue that until I’ve met my short-term goal. At that time, I would like to drop a pump to four ppd, but I would also like to start exercising then too. I’m afraid that exercising might trigger my supply to drop, so if that happens I’ll have to decide if I would rather add a pump, stop exercising, or just start the weaning process.
As much as I want to stick to my long-term goal, pumping has been a lot harder than I anticipated. I’m so lucky that my husband has been incredibly supportive, and willing to take the baby every time I have to pump, including the middle of the night. But we are both getting worn out and I’m already feeling the loss of time with Peyton while I’m at work, so I am allowing myself the flexibility to reevaluate my goal of one year if I need to.
I’d love to hear some of your pumping goals! Leave a comment and let me know what your plan is and what tools you have in place to accomplish it.