Sparkles & Stretchmarks: A UK Parenting & Pregnancy Blog: Why Pumping Breast Milk is Great for Mothers AND Babies

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Why Pumping Breast Milk is Great for Mothers AND Babies

Breastfeeding can be a magical experience... when it goes right. It's also a pretty darn difficult one, that can be very frustrating for new mothers, and sometimes it just doesn't work out. And if you're miserable, exhausted and feel like a breastfeeding-failure, that's not good for your little one. But you don't need to be beating yourself up about this feeling like you've failed; there is a huge amount of pressure on mothers to breastfeed, but there are plenty of happy, healthy people out there who weren't breastfed as babies. If breastfeeding just isn't working for you but you still wish to feed your baby mothers milk, then this is where pumping comes in!

A lot of women aren't aware of the option of pumping breast milk..I know I personally knew very little about it when my own baby wouldn't latch on. Maternity hospital staff will not necessarily mention it.  But pumping is easy, quick, and can be done even while relaxing and watching TV. Furthermore, if you buy a decent electric or hospital grade breast pump, you can use the double-pump feature to express both breasts at the same time, which ends up being a real timesaver. 

Nutritious & Convenient

We all know the science behind why breast milk is great for babies; you want your baby to have the best, and this way, you can make sure that your baby gets all the health benefits, without some of the difficulties that some mothers experience when breastfeeding.

Pumping is definitely more work than formula, but it also works out much cheaper than formula does, and if you're living somewhere where the water quality is iffy, it makes things easier when you don't have to use water to make milk!  It also means that you can pump a bottle in advance so that your partner can bottle-feed baby and you can get a little extra sleep; this is a great bonding experience for baby and dad.

Some women are also embarrassed about breastfeeding in public, so having bottles of expressed milk on hand can solve this problem. Additionally, without pumping, after a few hours away from your baby your breasts can get very full and sore, so even breastfeeding mothers who will be away from the baby for some time will often pump in order to bring the milk levels in their breasts down. If you are planning to have a night off with your girlfriends, just pump some milk ahead of time for baby, leave the bottle with your partner and relax! 

Pumping and breastfeeding: why not both?

The good news is, you don't have to exclusively pump OR breastfeed, and it's perfectly normal even for the seasoned breastfeeding mommy to get out the pump sometimes. According to the Infant Feeding Practices Survey (2005–07), only 6% of mothers of healthy full-term infants pump exclusively, but 85% of these mothers have used a breast pump at some point. If breastfeeding is going perfectly well, but you'd just like a night to yourself to relax, have a bubble bath and let your partner take over, then go for it. If you're a working mum who wants to make sure you're giving your baby the best nutrition possible, go for it. And if breastfeeding just isn't working for you, go for it. 

One thing to note: once the milk isn't in your body any more, it's no longer sterile. The amount of bacteria in pump-expressed milk is higher than milk expressed by hand, and you need to be careful that the bottles you pump into are sterilized as well.

And just remember: whatever method you choose, as long as you're giving your baby lots of love, care and cuddles, you're doing a great job.

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