My Husband Had to 'Milk' Me & It Was Exactly as Weird as It Sounds

pumping breast milk
Have a nice day Photo/Shutterstock

You get told all about hand-expressing and breast pumps and the like at antenatal classes, but the everyday reality of these things turned out to be more hysterical than I could ever have imagined.


I had a proper good bash at expressing the first time around because I wanted my husband James to join in with some of the feeds. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy breastfeeding ... though I didn't much enjoy it. (I never cherished the feeds in the way I know some mums do, but I have long since made peace with my lack of moment-cherishing.) It was just that the prospect of breast milk in a bottle seemed like a win-win situation, and I couldn't wait to crack out the pump and share the burden joy.

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Amazing things, those electric pumps, but Jesus Christ, it was all a bit ridiculous. I would sit on the sofa with one nipple attached to a suction cone (being milked) and the other nipple resting in a plastic shell (to catch the extra milk that was leaking from the neglected boob, which had not registered that it was the other boob's turn).

Having spent the previous three years financing agricultural machinery -- parlours and robotic milkers aplenty -- I developed a newfound respect for dairy cows through my personal experience of being milked while watching morning news shows. James often joked about the regularity of boob exposure in the living room ("There they are again!"), and he was right. It became so commonplace to have them out that, some days, I didn't bother putting them back in.

And then there was The Incident. A particular breastmilk-expressing episode that neither of us has quite recovered from.

I woke up one morning with breasts that were more than a little bit engorged -- they were like lumpy boulders. I started to feel all hot and bothered, fearing that mastitis was approaching. Usually, when lumps and bumps developed I could "sort myself out" by kneading my boobs gently with my fingers to clear what I assumed were blocked milk ducts. On this particular day, I knew I had gone past the point of self-rescue and, after trying and failing to "massage out the lumps," I called James up to the bedroom for what has definitively gone down as the most interesting moment of our marriage to date.

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He found me sitting on the bed in just my pants, surrounded by towels and warm flannels.

"You're going to have to hand-express me."

[Face of disbelief.] "You're shitting me?"

"No, I actually need you to hand-express me. I can't get the right angle to massage both boobs in full, and the pump won't attach now they're so massive. It's really hurting."

"Fucking hell. Right."

And so it came to pass that my husband sat behind me on the bed and milked me.

In a completely non-sexual way (because there is nothing sexy about lactation), it gave me the greatest sense of relief I've ever felt. We drenched at least two towels in breast milk before admiring my back-to-normal boob structure, high-fiving and heading back downstairs for a cup of tea. That's marriage right there, for better or for worse.

Excerpted from The Unmumsy Mum by Sarah Turner with the permission of TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Copyright © 2017 by Sarah Turner.

Author photo by Rosie Parsons Photography

Sarah Turner grew up in Cornwall, England, and graduated from the University of Exeter in 2008 with a degree in philosophy and sociology. She worked at the Royal Bank of Scotland until 2012, when she gave birth to her first son and decided to work part-time at the university. Despite achieving the "holy grail" of part-time work/part-time parenting, Sarah found motherhood considerably harder than she had anticipated, and for this reason, started writing the Unmumsy Mum blog. In 2014, Sarah's second son was born and amid the chaos of life with two children under three, she decided to dedicate more time to the blog, which has more than four million page views.

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