Pumping Insulin and Pumping Breast Milk: Diabetes and Motherhood

Kelsey Bonilla Health Guide
  • Thanks to my Great Books education, I know that René Descartes famously declared "I think, therefore I am."  Materialistic individuals have claimed, "I shop, therefore I am." But me, I pump, therefore I am. 


    Lately, I have been feeling like my very existence is summed up by pumping.  Either I'm pumping insulin to sustain my life, or I'm pumping breast milk to nourish Sienna.  I have one or two pumps operating on my body at any given moment.  The fact that most people don't deal with pumping anything in their daily lives, while I have two pumps to manage, does make me feel like a robot at times.

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    After several confusing conversations with my husband, mom, and other acquaintances, I've learned to specify either my insulin pump or my breast pump whenever I discuss one or the other:  "No, I don't need to refill my breast pump; I meant I'm low on insulin in my regular pump."  Dennis only had to think about it for a second to realize that I wasn't microwaving my insulin pump, but it was funny when he had to think about it the first time I mentioned steaming my "pump parts."


    Of the two, the pump that preoccupies more of my attention lately is the breast pump. My trusty insulin pump just keeps pumping along, delivering insulin accurately and effectively.  It provides great piece of mind to have a reliable insulin delivery system in place; so that my blood sugars remain controlled without a lot of effort on my part.


    My breast pump, on the other hand, demands a lot of time and attention.  Recently, an unfortunate coincidence occurred where my milk production dipped just as Sienna's appetite increased.  I blame the milk supply decrease on my attempt to cut calories.  Thus, I'm eating more and pumping frequently in hopes my milk supply will increase. 


    Between returning to work and being so busy, I'd let my daily pumping sessions slip to only four times per day.  I eliminated the middle of the night pump a few weeks after returning to work.  The other session that kept getting skipped was in the evening, when I tried to balance making dinner, bathing Sienna, and starting laundry with pumping breast milk.  I've had to reinstitute that evening session.  Hopefully, I won't have to start pumping in the middle of the night again.


    I've been using a lot of the milk I froze back when my milk supply greatly surpassed her hunger.  I'm pleased that we had so much saved, but I'm getting nervous about the dwindling supply. 


    Sienna will be five months old next week!  She'll get to start on some "solid" food in about a month.  Rice cereal mixed with breast milk will be her first step.  Hopefully this extra nourishment will supplement her milk needs. 


    My plan has been to give Sienna breast milk for at least a year.  We plan to take an extended trip to visit family over Christmas, so it would be nice not to have to pump on that vacation.  She'll be nearly one year old by then, so we'll see how that works out. 


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    Although the pumping can be a hassle, I'm doing it because it's incredibly good for my daughter.  Breast milk is the perfect food for babies and it has been linked to so many aspects of healthy development.  Overall I feel a great sense of accomplishment and purpose in pumping breast milk.  My little bit of inconvenience is nothing compared to Sienna's lifelong health.


    The other day it dawned on me just how much time I'll have back once I'm no longer pumping breast milk!  Besides the fifteen minutes each pumping session lasts, there's the cleaning, drying, assembling, and packing of the pump each day.  I'd say easily 90 minutes of each day is spent managing the breast pumping process. 

    It'll be nice to just have one little pump to deal with each day!

Published On: June 12, 2008