If you are expecting a baby or have just given birth, you may be thinking about feeding choices. You favor breast milk for your baby, but are undecided about breastfeeding or pumping your milk.
Making the decision before you give birth
You have decided that you want your baby to benefit from the nutrients and from the immunizing antibodies of mother’s milk, but you’re not sure what is the best medium for delivering the milk.
Think about the following three options:
Advantages of breastfeeding
One of the unique advantages of solely breastfeeding your baby is that you are always there to soothe her with close skin-to-skin contact. The bonding that takes place between you and your little one lasts forever!
Note that many of the advantages of breastfeeding apply to pumping as well, as in both cases, your infant benefits from the abundance of nutrients in breast milk.
What to do when life happens
As we all know, we can plan and plan, and then life throws us a curveball. You plan the birth. You picture breastfeeding your newborn in the delivery room, and continuing to cherish him at home.
Then things happen, and you adapt.
One example of an unpredictable event is a premature birth. Thankfully, most of these tiny little ones grow up to lead perfectly normal lives. However, the period that they spend in the Neonatal ICU can be a trying for his parents. Depending on the size and development of the baby, his sucking reflexes may be weak, and interaction with him may be limited.
How do you deliver the abundance of nutrients that will boost his growth and development? How do you emulate the supply and demand magic that stimulates your milk supply?
The answer is straightforward: Use a breast pump. Neonatal wards are typically equipped with strong, hospital-grade breast pumps that are easy to use.
The advantages of pumping your breast milk
There are times when pumping is required in an emergency, such as the birth of a preemie. However, the use of a breast pump can also be appropriate for non-urgent life circumstances.
Major career decisions
When your maternity leave from work is over, employment while your baby is still nursing is made possible by expressing your milk. Your baby will keep gaining weight from the best possible nutrients for her development. Similarly, if you are working towards a degree or career diploma, you can pump the milk to be given to your baby in your absence. Pumping maintains your milk supply, allowing you to still enjoy the intimacy of breastfeeding your baby at home.
While breastfeeding your baby, you may find that you need a break from time to time. A date with your husband, coffee with a friend, or an outing with your other children, can be a real boost to your energy levels. Leave prepared bottles of your own pumped milk at home with the minder, and then relax…
Many fathers are quite gung-ho on playing a prominent role in the care of their babies. When you pump your milk, you are providing the opportunity for your baby’s father to bond with your child.
If your baby gets a little lethargic while nursing, for example, if he is placed “under the lights” when jaundiced, this can impact your milk supply. To build up your supply, you can express your milk with a pump, between feeds.
Sore nipples can be a drawback for new nursing mothers. Positioning the baby properly at the breast can resolve this, but while you recover, pumping your milk will maintain your supply.
Using a breast pump – a few tips
Not all breast pumps are made the same. The experience of expressing with a manual breast pump or with an electronic breast pump, for example, can be quite different. The following ideas may help you find the most suitable pumping solution for you and your baby.
To breastfeed or to pump
Breastfeeding directly, or pumping your milk, is not a black-and-white decision. The two methods share common benefits and work best together as a team. During a crisis, pumping may be the only solution for you. At other times, you can happily breastfeed without any need to pump. However, when circumstances call for periods away from your baby, a combination of breastfeeding and pumping is an excellent solution.