It is true breastfeeding is best for the baby. But a new mom who has just exhausted will not be able to get up at nights to feed her baby. Does that mean she should start feeding formula? No, it need not be like this. If you have a good supply from the beginning, you have an option of expressing milk using a breast pump.
If Breastmilk is best for your baby, expressed milk is the next best. In cases you cannot sit for long and feed your baby then this is the best way to provide your little bundle of joy with all the most important nutrients while you get to rest too. If you had complications in your delivery, your doctor might suggest you to not sit for too long. But trust me the beginning few weeks of breastfeeding are tough for most of the moms with the new baby. There are cases where you baby might be at the breast for more than half hour. This leaves you with a back ache.
You can hand express your milk, but it tires you. (Tried and tested). Expressing milk is necessary in the first few weeks after delivery because this is when your milk supply is getting established. Your breastmilk supply works on “Supply on Demand” basis. Your body needs to know that the baby needs more, which consequently means the baby has to empty your breasts every time he feeds.
This is rarely the case. In the first month babies generally feed a little and sleep a lot. So your body gets the signal that whatever you are making is more than enough (There is still milk remaining every time). So the baby can make do with a little less. But what happens is as the baby’s hunger increases in coming weeks the milk supply will not be enough. So to avoid all this you need to empty your breasts every time you feed your baby.
You can express your milk by hand, by a manual breast pump or an electric breast pump. Breast pumps are specially designed to stimulate your breasts and then create suction imitating a baby’s sucking. These suctions are very gentle. They do not leave any marks and the best thing is you can actually adjust the suction according to your comfort. You will be able to store the breastmilk once you pump it. So this milk can be given to the baby instead of formula. (It is not that formula is not good for your baby. But Your milk is best and cheap for you and your baby).
Why should you breast pump?
Health Issues for mother or baby:
Sometimes a baby may not be able to breastfeed due to health issues and problems like tongue tie. If the baby is too weak to suck or a preterm baby they might not be able to breastfeed. In such cases a mother might need to pump or express her milk to be given to the baby.
Some mothers might have a problem like sore nipples, engorged breasts (Full and hard, but too painful to feed) or mastitis( a breast infection). At such times breastfeeding is very painful. I think all the moms reading this might relate to the pain sometimes which is too much to handle. At such times pumping is a better solution to relieve the pain a little.
In the first 45 days after delivery, you , a new mom, will be very vulnerable with a lot of hormonal changes going on inside you. Somedays you might be extremely happy and somedays you will feel like crying. All those night time feeding are getting the best of you. You have to recover from the trauma with a lot of rest. But were do you get any rest right? Sitting for hours with the baby for feedings.
You can take a break from night time feeding once or twice in a week by pumping your milk and giving the feeding responsibility to the dad or other family member. You can feed this pumped milk to your baby in a bottle or a with a spoon.
In India we generally tend to give top feeds or pumped breastmilk with a bowl and a spoon to avoid nipple confusion or to avoid babies preferring bottles over breasts. To avoid this nipple confusion or bottle preferring scenarios you need to make bottle feeding a good work for them rather than making it easy. Read more about “Bottle feeding”.
To strengthen the bond between Dad and the baby:
Feeding time for babies is generally a time to bond with the parents. The dad can feed your pumped breastmilk to the baby in turn talking to her, singing for her and making it a “Daddy-Baby” time. When you breastfeed the baby as a mother you have a special bond with your baby. Your little one can even recognize you with your fragrance.
If your baby does not tend to empty your breasts at every feed , the milk supply will drop in turn reducing the production the best food for your baby. By pumping after your baby feeds and ensuring you empty the breasts, you can keep up the supply.
In case you have to go to work at the end of your maternity leave, you can work with a calm mind knowing even if you are not near your baby he is getting your milk. When you are not around the grandparents or caregiver can feed your baby the milk you have pumped and stored for such times.
Types of breast pumps:
Manual Breast pumps:
You need to manually pump your breasts by using these pumps. It works good in case you need to pump only once or twice a day. Manual pumps involve more efforts from you as compared to electric pumps.
Electric Breast Pumps:
Electric pumps are designed for plug and start. You just need to get into a comfortable position, setup properly and start the pumping. Once done you can sit back and relax. Use this electric pump if you need to pump regular or are planning to go back to work soon.
Cautions while breast pumping:
- Take the breast pump according to your breast size. For effective pumping and for a relaxing experience the pump has to be a right fit.
- Keeping the pump and all its part clean is a must. You need to sterilize your pump parts after every three or fours pumping sessions. Between sessions you need to rinse your pump with warm water. You need to have clean and hygienic hands before you start pumping.
- Storing the milk in containers specially designed for your breast milk is always best.
- You have to be patient. You need to set a proper schedule according to your baby’s needs to keep up a good supply.
- You have to take proper care of your breasts and nipples to avoid problems like dried or cracked nipples. Massaging your breasts and keeping warm compress before you pump and applying a nipple cream once the pumping is done will maintain breasts healthy.If you are planning on increasing your supply, you will need a proper time set out only for pumping. So get help from someone in taking care of your baby.
- You need to relax for the breast pumping to work effectively and get more milk. Relaxation is the key to increase your breastmilk supply
Here in India, we generally do not see mothers using breast pumps because of all the misconceptions and what would people say(they generally frown upon you), doubts like is it safe or no etc will make them move to Formula feeding incase there is a drop in their supply. There is nothing to worry about “Breast Pumping”. I have used it till a few months back and stopped now only because my son has moved to solid foods. Mothers you need not really worry about using a breast pump, it is a simple machine used to stimulate and create a continuous suction which can also be controlled by you according to your comfort. There is nothing wrong in thinking of checking out new options for you and your baby.
Go ahead and use breast pumping techniques to store your precious breastmilk for your baby for when you are not around. Breast milk is and will always be best for your baby.
Get more information on how to choose a pump? How to pump and how to store the pumped breastmilk?
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