The method you choose for feeding your baby is one of the great debates of ‘mommyhood.' There are so many people on either side of the debate who will happily share with you the countless reasons why both breastfeeding and formula feeding are great. If you choose to breastfeed, you then have to decide if and possibly when you will introduce a bottle to the mix.
Many moms who breastfeed their children, choose to also pump a supply of milk either as a back-up or as an alternate method of feeding. Pumping can be great for a number of reasons. Here are several that might help you with your decision.
13 Pumping to provide relief
When your baby is first born, he or she will likely breastfeed quite frequently. Once your milk supply comes in, your breasts might become extremely engorged and engorgement can be pretty uncomfortable and even a bit painful to deal with at a time when there are so many other changes to also deal with.
Pumping can relieve the engorgement. Some people will choose to pump in the hours between feedings to reduce engorgement while others will pump just after feedings.
12 Pumping to increase supply
If your milk supply is habitually low or suddenly takes a dip (this sometimes happens when the baby first starts to sleep for longer periods of time), some moms choose to pump in order to maintain or increase their milk production. Some moms are not interested in supplementing breastfeeding with formula, but may encounter situations where their baby needs to be fed and for whatever reason, breastfeeding isn’t an option.
When my first son was only 4 months old, my supply pretty much tanked. I pumped after each feeding for several weeks in order to ensure my supply remained adequate.
11 Pumping for dads
If you're a breastfeeding mom, you know that sometimes, the dads feel left out of the process. If you want to ensure dad feels more involved, you might choose to pump enough milk each day to fill a bottle for dad to feed his little munchkin.
This can be beneficial for you too! If you let dad feed baby the last evening meal via a bottle, you can catch a couple of extra hours of shut eye!!
10 To relax
Sure, we can say that pumping gives dad the chance to feed his baby, but it also means that you have the chance to relax just a little bit more than normal if you know that someone else- dad, a grandparent or friend, can feed the baby while you go shopping, out with friends, have a bath or a glass of wine or simply go to bed!
While you might not indulge every day, it's great to have the option every once in a while and it can totally help make you feel more ‘human’ on days when you’ve been in your pj's for 8 hours straight!
9 Building a ‘back to work’ supply
As Canadian moms, we're typically lucky enough to have a full 12 months of maternity leave, however, there are some of us who for whatever reason, choose to return to work earlier than that. There are also many moms who breast long after their baby has reached the 12-month mark. Whatever the situation, it can be very useful to pump a freezer supply to be used upon your return to work.
When I was doing this, I would pump after feeding and usually start with the breast I didn’t use. If I fed on both, I’d just pump from both until I had enough milk for a bottle (sometimes it was less, but still at least a few ounces each time).
8 Helping other moms
This one might not meet the traditional thought process for breastfeeding or pumping moms, but there are many mamas and babies out there who would benefit tremendously from the generosity of other moms. There are mothers whose babies are hospitalized and who cannot possibly keep up with the supply and pumping requirements of feeding their little ones 100 percent from pumped milk.
Sick babies are said to benefit immensely from breast milk. There are also moms who themselves are sick or unable to provide breast milk, but truly want their children to have it.
7 When your baby can’t breastfeed
Sometimes, it might not be someone else’s baby who is unable to benefit from breastfeeding. It might be your own child who for whatever reason- maybe sickness, is unable to breastfeed. For example, premature babies are not always able to breastfeed right away. You can pump and baby can be tube fed or potentially bottle fed.
For a sick baby, breast milk, especially the milk from their own mom, can prove to be almost like a natural medicine. The pumped milk will help them and also, keep your supply up until the time comes when your little one is able to eat directly from your breast.
6 Latching is a problem
Sometimes, the baby might be born with a cleft lip or a tongue tie that makes breastfeeding very difficult. While these are fixable problems, for the most part, it helps to have an alternate feeding method. Feeding babies with these challenges expressed breast milk from a bottle is a great alternative- even just a temporary one.
Also, if you have inverted nipples, you may have a difficult time getting your little one to latch on properly. By pumping, you can help draw out your nipple which will make it much easier for your baby to latch.
5 Adding to your family through adoption!
If you are planning to add a new baby to your family through adoption, you may still feel that you would like to feed your baby breast milk once he or she arrives. You will need to participate in some more active preparation for this to be a reality, but it can happen. Typically, this will involve actively pumping every few hours to stimulate milk production.
Pumping frequently will ensure that once your new little bundle arrives, he or she should be able to breastfeed like normal.
4 If you need to wean
If you feel that it's time to begin to wean your child from breastfeeding, pumping may prove a useful tool. If you pump, your child can still receive all of the benefits of breast milk, but by receiving a bottle every few feedings (or whenever you plan to do it), you and your child can slowly start the weaning process.
3 Feeding more than one baby
If you're a mom to multiple new babies, or have an older child who is still breastfeeding once your newest child is born, you might want to pump to accommodate all of your babies and still keep your sanity. When there are children of different ages to feed, it might become too difficult to feed both children at one time so pumping to bottle feed one child occasionally is a great alternative.
Pumping when you're a mom feeding multiple children at once is also great for relieving the engorgement that is likely when you’re feeding more than one!
2 Breast Feeding just isn’t for you
Not every new mother wants to breastfeed their child. It's completely a personal choice that only you will know is right (or not right) for you. Even if you aren’t comfortable or even interested in the idea of breastfeeding your new baby, you might still want your child to benefit from receiving breast milk. If this is the case, pumping might be the perfect alternative!
You may need to pump pretty often at first in order to ensure you have an adequate supply, but your hard work should pay off and if you stick with it, you should have success.
1 Things didn’t work out the way you expected
Sometimes even the best-laid plans may fail. You might have gone the entire nine months of pregnancy determined to breastfeed. You might have read every book, pamphlet and website out there. You may have even tried to breastfeed for some time after your baby was born. Sometimes, things just don’t work out the way we intend them to.
If you've tried and have struggled to breastfeed, at least pumping is a great alternative that provides all of the nutrients and benefits of breastfeeding.