Motherhood comes with new sensations, decisions, and experiences. From the moment you welcome your baby into this world, there are many things you’ll need to assess to guarantee their safety and health. By now, you may be acquainted with the debate about whether you should always prefer breastfeeding your baby or look into using a breast pump.
Keep in mind that what matters at the end of the day is feeding the baby when they’re hungry and provide them with food rich in antibodies and healthy fats and nutrients to support their growth. Without further due, we show you our point of view on the question on breastfeeding 101: should you use a breast pump or not?
Each mother’s situation is unique
When expecting mothers start thinking about how to deal with diapers, blankets, and other baby supplies, they need to consider their plan in the short term. Whether they’re expected to return to work as soon as possible or they’ll be able to take some time off to take care of the baby exclusively is a decision that will vary from family to family. Breastfeeding or not, the final decision must answer the baby’s needs.
Pumping can be necessary to give the baby breast milk due to conditions that make it hard for the newborn to take milk from the breast. Doctors recommend this approach with premature babies or babies with cleft palates, to give an example. It’s also the best way to help when you know beforehand that you’ll be away from your baby for longer than three or four hours. Even mothers who have a surplus of breast milk have organized to donate it to a milk bank to help others. It all boils down to the family’s circumstances and how the baby is reacting to nursing.
Pumping addresses supply issues
One of the reasons why mothers may prefer pumping is to ensure that their breast milk production will be enough to feed their baby until they’re old enough to switch to other food sources. This usually happens with premature babies since they may be able to nurse but cannot empty the breast fully, and it can be a painful experience for the mother. If the baby isn’t gaining weight between checkups and the pediatrician’s advice to use supplements and breastfeeding, it would be a good idea to use a breast pump and abandon breastfeeding. Although there are plenty of benefits associated with skin-to-skin contact and bonding opportunities from the natural process, the priority here is to provide the baby with the mother’s natural nutrients and ensure an average weight gain.
What to consider when looking for a breast pump
Once you’ve decided to switch techniques and go for pumping, you must do your research. When comparing different breast pumps, it’s essential to focus on features that guarantee a comfortable experience and mimic the patterns of a nursing baby. You should also consider how much control you have over the speed and suction strength while manipulating the breast pump since every new mom has different sensitivity points. Another aspect to consider while browsing for breast pumps is to either choose a manual, single or double electric type. However, technology has allowed for plenty of models to come with batteries so that you’re able to pump without having to worry about portability issues. Even the disposable ones can still be affordable in the long run if you budget correctly.
How to get started with pumping milk
Mothers can start pumping after delivery, but it’s likely that they won’t get much milk on the first try. The breast milk that babies drink the first week doesn’t have the same components and consistency as what we usually associate it with, and it’s completely normal. Pumping sessions should last about 15 to 20 minutes, and depending on whether the baby is breastfeeding or not, the frequency of breast pumping can vary. The plastic pieces placed over your breast, called flanges, can come in different sizes and should fit properly to avoid abrasions or pain. If that happens, make sure to take care of the injury to prevent any infection.
Regardless of your decision, your baby should get all the necessary nutrients and you, as a new mother, rely on your support net when necessary. The first months with your newborn are an exhausting yet rewarding experience, where sleep deprivation and teamwork will be part of your daily routine. In the end, if you use a breast pump or not will not determine your worth as a mother and you’ll still be making the best choice for you and your kid.
Elena Deeley did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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