Is it ok to Just Pump and not Breastfeed
Is it ok to pump and not just breastfeed
Breastfeeding is the best way you can develop a physical, mental and emotional bond with your baby. However, it is not a seamless or painless process for many mothers.
Due to various reasons, some mothers prefer to pump their breastmilk and bottle-feed the same to their baby. This way, they can also ensure that their baby gets all the nutrients, without going through the pain or stress during the process.
Does this scenario look like you plan to have your cake and eat it too? Is it alright to exclusively pump your breast milk instead of directly feeding your baby? Let us look at some of the thoughts surrounding these concepts in today’s world to give you clarity about the same.
Instances when you cannot Directly Breastfeed your Baby
The answer to the question, is it ok to pump and not just breastfeed”, is a yes, provided, you find yourself in one of the instances that we have described below:
- Your baby was born prematurely and is in the neonatal care for the first few months, as a result of which he can latch on to your breast directly.
- Your baby finds it very difficult to latch on to your breast, even though he was born after your full term of pregnancy. Babies born with certain conditions such as a cleft lip, tongue-tie, Down Syndrome, or other special needs have difficulty in sucking on to your breast.
- You are too paranoid about being able to produce enough milk supply for your baby and want to know the exact quantity you can produce for every feed. However, there is no reason to do this as long as your baby has enough wet, dirty and heavy diapers in a day.
- You experience a lot of pain when you are breastfeeding, because of problems related to engorged breasts, sore nipples, mastitis, yeast infection on your nipples and limited milk production. In these conditions, you may experience a lot of pain when your baby’s mouth touches your nipples.
- You have more than one baby to feed at a time. Sometimes, new mothers having twins, triplets or quadruplets face a lot of stress while nursing their babies one after the other.
- Sometimes, you may not want to directly breastfeed your baby because of many personal reasons. You may not have enough support at home to help you with your breastfeeding issues. Also, you may not have the financial stability to pay for lactation consultants for any issues. So, pumping your milk and feeding to your baby might seem to be an apt solution for you.
Pumping enough Milk
Now, in these cases, you might wonder how to pump your breast milk and how much to pump for every feed. With the introduction of many electronic pumps in the market, the process of pumping breast milk has become easier than before. The first question pertains to the number of times you need to pump per day.
How much milk your baby needs – This will depend on the age of your baby. For the first three months at least, you will need to pump close to 8 to 12 times per day, because a baby will need to feed once every 2 or 3 hours. After 3 months, your baby’s intake per feed will increase, as a result of which, he might start to drink milk once every 3 or 4 hours. So when your baby is about 3 to 6 months old, you can pump close to 6 to 8 times per day.
Frequency of pumping per session – First, you need to know that you have to spend close to 15 to 20 minutes per breast for every session. During the first few times, it may take some time for the milk to flow, but once the supply gets stimulated inside, you will see that the pump’s container starts getting filled quickly. At the end of the 15th or 20th minute, you will see that no more milk is flowing from your breast and that you have emptied your breast fully. It is necessary to empty your breast after every session, as it will prepare your breast fully for the next pumping session.
The quantity you need to pump for your baby – In the first few days, your breast produces the thick and nutritious colostrum. This is the first extraction from your breast and your baby will need just a few spoons of this every 2 hours. Your breast will extract only very little colostrum initially; therefore, hand-expressing it could yield better results than pumping.
In the first few months, you may need to pump about 24 to 32 ounces per day, and by the time your baby is 5 to 6 months old, you may need to pump close to 48 ounces of milk per day to satisfy his intake.
Some Points to Remember when you Resort to Exclusive Pumping
From the above points, it is clear that you need to pump quite a lot of breast milk every day, as your baby keeps getting bigger every day. Pumping can become a painful and stressful process if you don’t follow certain basic rules. Till your baby is about 6 months old, you might have to spend a lot of time during the day and night to pump your milk. So, here are a few simple tips that you need to follow to ensure that your milk supply doesn’t decrease so that you can pump enough milk for every feed.
- You need to buy a good breast pump. Here is a disclaimer – breast pumps don’t come cheap. However, you have to make this initial investment if you want to enjoy good returns for a long time. It is highly recommended that you go for a double pump because it helps you pump milk from both breasts at the same, thereby saving a lot of time. Regardless of the brand you choose, you should ensure that the pump fits your breast comfortably, and you don’t feel any pain or discomfort during the pumping process.
- In the first few weeks or months, you will need to pump almost once every 2 hours. This may seem like a lot of work, considering the fact that you have to spend close to 15 to 20 minutes per breast, per pumping session. Nevertheless, there is no short cut to this process. The more you pump during this initial stage, the more milk gets stimulated in your breast for easy pumping as your baby starts getting bigger.
- You should maintain a healthy lifestyle and also have a stress-free mind for your breast to produce milk in the right quantity. Include lots of green foods and veggies in your diet. Consume a lot of antioxidant-rich foods to flush out the toxins from your body. Spend at least half an hour every day for some mental conditioning exercises such as meditation or yoga, so that you stay fit physically and mentally.
Can pumping replace direct breastfeeding?
If there are no complications in your baby or your body, it is highly recommended that you nurse your baby directly from your breast. While feeding your baby pumped breast milk is definitely way healthier than formula feeds, it cannot replace the process of direct breastfeeding. You may wonder that in both of these cases (pumped feeding and direct feeding), your baby is still getting all the nutrients, so what could be the problem?
The problem is that in the case of pumped breast milk, your baby doesn’t get the skin-to-skin connect with you. The simple process of latching on to your nipple and sucking milk from it gives him a lot of security and comfort. He is aware that he is close to his mother, as he can develop an emotional bond with you when he is nursing from you directly.
As a mother, you too, stand to gain a lot, when you breastfeed directly. The contentment that you feel, when your baby gets his full after very feed, is absolutely priceless. Also, after 2 months of your baby’s birth, your body would have adjusted well to his nursing schedules. So, the more he latches on to your breast, the more milk you can produce.
There are some risks associated with pumped breast milk, which you need to be aware of. Firstly, when pumped milk is left at room temperature for more than 2 hours, it gets contaminated and cannot be fed to your baby.
This problem can be avoided when you directly breastfeed. Secondly, some studies have proved that the content of the milk is different when it directly comes from a mother’s breast and when it comes from a bottle that contains pumped breast milk.
The mother’s breast is fine-tuned to produce the right amount of milk with the right nutrients depending on the baby’s age. However, when breast milk is pumped after a long gap of about 2 to 3 hours, it may be more of fore-rich milk (carbohydrate-rich milk) and not hind-rich (fat-rich) milk that it should have been.
In a nutshell, we would like to reiterate that you have to resort to direct breastfeeding, if you can do it without any problems and if your baby can latch on to your breast properly. That’s the best way to do it and pumping should only be considered as a replacement for direct breastfeeding.