As I’m sitting here pregnant, my plan is to try to breastfeed as much as possible. I’ll keep formula on hand in a pinch as the main concern regardless is the baby must be fed. The goal is to wait until around 2 years before completely weaning the little one off milk and onto the solid food diet. I’m just hoping there are no milk complications and in the meantime I was curious what the pros and cons are of trying to stick exclusively to breastmilk and pumping?
Though in the event I cannot produce enough milk I’ll have to go with formula or try to find a milk donation resource. Some moms struggle with these things though at the end of the day the important thing is that the baby gets fed and they hit those growth milestones. Some moms also seem to have to use formula when things disrupt their plans. Other moms really do not like breastfeeding and try to exclusively feed the baby either pumped breast milk and formula when need be.
Why Would a Woman Exclusively Pump?
Some reasons are:
- The baby doesn’t like nursing direct from nipples and prefers bottles.
- The baby has trouble with a good latch. Some common issues being related to tongue-tie.
- The baby was born preemie and breastfeeding habits and milk expression have been affected.
- The child has teeth and likes to bite or twist and yank the nipples.
- Some women don’t have the time to dedicate to nursing so they do hands-free pumping and trade off feeding to the other spouse most of the time.
It isn’t easy to choose the option where you exclusively pump so it helps to take time when deciding. The workload is compounded when pumping, and seems to be added work a lot of the time compared to feeding directly from mom or from formula. However, a mom may want their child to have the full benefits of breastmilk just without the nursing part.
This makes us wonder what are the pros and cons of exclusively pumping? Is this something I am interested in?
Pros of Exclusively Pumping:
1. Health Boost for Baby: As you can see from the American Pregnancy Association as well as this Women’s Health site there are a lot of benefits from even small amounts of breastmilk. Among the benefits, the child gets a good dose of antibodies that help their tiny immune system fight off infection. There is also a lot of evidence breastmilk improves nutrition needs are better served as breastmilk changes over time to help be better optimized as the child grows. It is easier to digest and use as well as all sorts of statistics you can dig up for further study.
2. Health Boost for Mom: Where the mother is concerned the evidence seems to indicate that not only does a milking mother have an easier time returning to her original weight faster, she also has some cancer protection in terms of uterine cancer and breast cancer specifically. Further benefits are helping the uterus shrink back to normal and helping to reduce the body’s tendency to bleed after birth.
3. Benefit to the Dad Or Partner: A lot of men end up locked out of the bonding time that is gleaned when feeding a baby. By pumping you can build a good supply for the dad to use to feed his child. Many men work all day so they might enjoy taking over more of the night shift feedings. In any case, only people who have recently given birth have a milk supply so pumping allows the not lactating partner to feed their child.
4. You can split up who does the feedings: The nice thing about pumping is it removes the mom from having to be solely responsible for every feeding. This is a great thing because then the partner can take over, the mom, the mother-in-law, or the friend. Mom really needs sleep at times and a lot of postpartum stress can be reduced when there is help.
5. Tracking amounts and changes: When you feed from the breast it is sort of hard to gauge how much milk the little one actually ingested. When the milk is pumped and measured out it is easier to keep track of consumption amounts and can help when relaying any concerns to the doctor as they will have a more accurate idea of the pure mathematics involved. Milk in the containers is also easier to investigate if you notice physical changes in the milk which may be related to how fatty the milk is or if the color looks different due to pumping during an illness.
Cons of Exclusively Pumping:
Pumping is a lot of work and stress and adds an extra step to feeding. There is also no scooping formula from a can or one of those need units that looks like a Keurig for breastmilk where you push a button and it zaps out the milk.
1. The WORK: You have to pretty much keep yourself hooked up to the pump. Either continuously or at least every 2-3 hours at the start. Pumping milk should be as equivalent as possible to what the routine would be like if you had to feed the baby around the clock. Expect to sit around a lot with the pumps attached to you for long periods of time.
2. Time: When pumping you are locked out of other things you could be doing. One way to mitigate this is to look at the options that are hands-free so you can be hooked up though able to do other things. The unit I applied for through insurance should hook on and free me up. I don’t want to suggest it here until I’ve tested it.
3. Get a good pump: Insurance coverage is not created equal I found out, they might not cover the good pumps. The store pumps and shoddy insurance pumps are often not the best for exclusively pumping. It is important to get a highly rated pump. There are some hospital-grade options on Amazon and sometimes there are pretty good deals where you can snag them for greatly discounted prices. If that is still out of reach then maybe look into rental options.
4. Constant sanitizing: After you pump it is important to wash and sanitize all the parts. You might pump about 8 times a day so that ends up being a lot of washing of your pump equipment. Difficulty varies of course depending on your model choice.
5. Traveling: If you try to travel it ends up being a lot more cargo as you need al the pump stuff as well as the pump cleaning stuff. If you travel with the little one you will also need all the bottles and the other feeding items. When traveling it seems way better to just get the kid on the breast at times. You will about need a whole other suitcase just dedicated to the task.
Some moms will go this route because it works for their life and their family. In any case it comes down to a fed baby is a healthy baby. If you are exclusively pumping or feeding from the breast or formula feeding, you are doing a great job as your baby is being fed, putting on weight, and growing stronger everyday.
My hope is I can provide good milk output to help build up a strong immune system for my little girl. If you struggle to output enough milk, then look around for avenues for support. Some resources will help you get production up and other resources will help you if that doesn’t work out and there is no shame if the breastmilk thing isn’t working out for you.