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Is It Okay to Pump and Not Breastfeed?

Ever since breast pumps were introduced in the 1990s, many women nowadays prefer to pump milk for the baby instead of putting the child to the breast.
  • Published on: 15 Mar 2021
  • 5 min read
Is It Okay to Pump and Not Breastfeed?

Ever since breast pumps were introduced in the 1990s, many women nowadays prefer to pump milk for the baby instead of putting the child to the breast. This is an indirect method of breastfeeding that works for many people. However, some experts argue that breastfeeding is also an interaction method between the mother and their child. So is pumping as good as letting your baby feed directly from the breast? Continue reading this article to learn that.

Advantages of Breastfeeding

Feeding the baby directly from your breast offers various health and cognitive benefits to babies and it reduces some health issues in women and their children. Some reasons why experts encourage breastfeeding include;

Affordable and convenient- sure breastfeeding isn’t free as it requires the woman to labor to supply the milk. But, exclusively letting your child feed on the breast doesn’t come with additional financial costs. Plus, it doesn’t require you to prepare anything since you can breastfeed your child anywhere and anytime without needing a bottle or other tools.

It creates a natural flow of breastmilk- the production of milk depends on the demand of the child. If your baby feeds more, your breast will likely produce more milk. Therefore, the natural supply and demand loop will ensure that your baby gets enough milk without an oversupply. When you feed the baby on demand rather than pumping to give him/her later, it encourages your breast to continuously produce milk, which ensures a healthy feeding relationship.

Other advantages of this feeding are that it is soothing and it allows the child to bond with their mum.

newborn baby

So Why Then Do Some Women Pump?

Now, breast milk is without a doubt the best food choice for your baby. However, if you’re not able to breastfeed for some reason, or you don’t want to, pumping can be your best bet. Some women decide to pump before their baby is born while others choose this method after breastfeeding for a while.

Certain circumstances can force you to pump exclusively. For instance, if you’re a mother of preterm babies, you may need to pump to supply milk to your babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Traditionally, only these mothers opted for pumping breastmilk as an option. But nowadays, thanks to the improvements and availability of electric pumps, more women are choosing this feeding method.

If you’re a mother to a full-term baby, pumping can be an excellent option if your child has latching issues or if you have concerns about your milk supply and want to determine how much milk your child is getting. Other reasons that can make moms choose to pump include;

twins
  • They have twins or triplets or more kids

  • Breastfeeding is painful and unbearable, but pumping is tolerable

  • They’re not comfortable with the idea of breastfeeding

  • They have limited maternity leaves

  • They don’t want to breastfeed

Also, note that survivors of rape can choose to pump if breastfeeding their child triggers physical or emotional reactions, which they cannot control.

Pumping has various advantages, including gives caregivers control of the feeding times. That way, one can decide when the best time to pump is depending on their schedule. As such, they can go back to work and free up their time. Breastmilk pumping also helps address milk supply issues, gives you more breaks to do other things and it allows non-biological parents to supply breastmilk to a child.

How Does Pumping Work?

How many times to pump depends on how old your child is. Generally, newborns require regular feeding. Therefore, during your child’s first weeks, you should try to pump after every two to three hours, which is equal to 8-12 times a day, to create a healthy milk supply.

As your baby grows, they’ll need more milk for each feeding but take longer times between the next feeding. If your milk supply is in plenty, you can take longer pumping sessions too.

Each pumping session should take at least 15 minutes on each side of the breast. Note that your milk can delay to let down, so allow some time for this. Additionally, try to empty your breast fully to stimulate the production of more milk. When you’ve drained all milk in the breast, continue to pump for another 5 minutes. Note that breastmilk follows a supply and demand system. Therefore, this extra stimulation will encourage your body to make more.

To ensure that you continue to produce milk even when your baby is not latching, you should pump frequently. Even if you’re struggling with a low milk supply, pumping frequently can help increase it. Additionally, you should also purchase a good breast pump, especially if you’re pumping exclusively. A double pump is recommended as it helps save time and energy since it collects milk from both breasts simultaneously. You can also try a galactagogue to help you make more breastmilk. And don’t forget to add breastfeeding superfoods, teas, and herbs to your daily diet.

Dos and Don’ts on Extracted Milk

  • Store the extracted milk in a clean capped glass or plastic container, which is not made with bisphenol

  • Don’t use disposable bottle liners or plastic bags that are meant for general household use

  • Label containers with the date you extracted the milk and add your baby’s name if you’re storing it at a child’s care facility

  • Put the containers in the freezer or back of the refrigerator

  • Only fill the containers up to the level your baby will need for one feeding

  • Thaw the most stayed milk first

  • Don’t warm with a microwave or warm quickly with a stove

Final Thoughts

While pumping breastmilk for your child can be rewarding, it can also be time-consuming and demanding. It’s easy to experience fatigue and stress if you don’t take care of yourself. Don’t forget to eat well, take lots of fluids and get enough rest. You can also ask your partner or your friends to help you if need be.

 


Lindsay Hudson

Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Lindsay Hudson

Lindsay is a freelance writer who is mom to a lovely daughter. She loves dressing in matching outfits with her daughter and bringing their 2 dogs out for their daily walk.

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