People Have Heated Opinions About This Mom Pumping While Running

Last Sunday, new mother Anna Young posted a photo of herself, taken during a half-marathon, to the breast-feeding advocacy Facebook group, Occupy Breastfeeding. The photo shows her manually pumping her breast milk — while seemingly keeping her pace. Talk about multitasking.
In her accompanying caption, Young wrote: "Yesterday I ran a half marathon at five months postpartum. I had to leave at 4:30 a.m. and the race started at 6:45 a.m. I nursed my daughter before I left my house, pumped after running the first 8 miles, and nursed her after I made it past the finish line." Young thanked Occupy Breastfeeding as well as the pro-breast-feeding organization La Leche League for providing her with the support she needed "to find a way to run my race and take care of my daughter." She signed off with the hashtag, #normalizebreastfeeding.
At the time of writing, her post has been shared over 1,500 times and has garnered over 800 comments — many of which are overwhelmingly positive. It has also been featured across the Internet on sites such as Scary Mommy and The Huffington Post. One Facebook user wrote, "Thank you for your post! Breastfeeding and pumping should be normal. No matter where or when, Momma has got to take care of her baby!! You rock!!!!!!" And another expressed her admiration for Young, noting how exhausting it must have been: "Wow! You're an amazing mommy. I breastfed both my kids but wasn't a runner back then. I can't even imagine how you had the energy. A very dedicated mom for sure. Good job!!" As much as Young's photo is a testament to her dedication to both herself and her child, others expressed concern that it sends mothers a damaging message about having to do it all. After seeing the post, Summer Blankenship, a mom of one who breast-fed her daughter until age 3, tells Refinery29 that it didn't sit well with her: "As awesome of a feat this is...I just worry this puts undue pressure on other moms elsewhere to make them think they can't leave baby for more than a few hours without pumping. This 'superwoman' complex puts stress on moms to compete, and that's not a stress any of us deserve." Other commenters online were less thoughtful, but nonetheless were rubbed the wrong way: "As an extended breast-feeding, breast-pump-using, daily exercising, non-body-shaming, non-sexist, whatever-whatever-whatever-all-the-admirable-opinions-having-enlightened-woman-who-is-willing-to-consider-any-number-of-alternative-ways-of-approaching-life...I will go to my grave thinking this is stupid and annoying," another Facebook user said.
While some women do experience painful engorgement more often than others, Blankenship adds, "I worry the perception this is sending through social media isn't doing other moms a service by leaving out the whole story." Whatever her reasons, Young is perfectly capable of making the decisions that are right for her, and that should be celebrated. But perhaps we could all be more wary of what Blankenship calls the "superwoman" complex.

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