Breastfeeding is a personal decision and I am still an advocate of breastfeeding for its many benefits. But even if mothers really want to give it a go, there are ceratain situations where it just doesn’t work out.
Moms still want to feed their babies breast milk. After all, it is still the best choice for babies. Doctors do recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, and continued breastfeeding for a year or so.
So instead, they opt for exclusively pumping instead of breastfeeding. It simply means that babies are exclusively fed expressed milk in a bottle.
Exclusive pumping (also known as Eping) is the second best option after breastfeeding. Sometimes though, it can be more challenging. But you know what, it is possible to exclusively express for as long as most mothers breastfeed and even longer.
Eping can be the best option when mother and baby are separated. Mothers may have a medical condition that hinders them from breastfeeding. It can also be that babies are premature and are in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Or perhaps, they are medically unable to suck directly at the breast. It can be medical conditions like cleft palate. tongue-tie, heart problem, congenital defect, or neurological defect.
I remember when I was initially having some attachment issues during breastfeeding, a nurse thought that my baby was tongue-tied and that I had to have it checked. I didn’t even know what that was, and I was afraid that I need to have it snipped.
Apparently, it is a piece of skin under the tongue that restricts the movement of the tongue. It then makes it difficult for the baby to suck well, so it causes breastfeeding issues like nipple feeding.
Thank goodness it was a false alarm. Brought my baby to two doctors who said it was nothing and they don’t see any tongue-tie. Whew!
You are aware how much milk you are producing & how much milk your baby needs.
When exclusively pumping, it is important to use a good double electric pump or hospital-grade pump designed for long-term use.
Don’t forget to have a hand towel ready to wipe off dripping milk.
The same breastfeeding principle applies, feed as often as you can. Bottle-feeding should mimic breastfeeding a baby.
At the onset, you should be pumping every 2-3 hours for about 15-20 minutes (which is about 8-10 times a day). If a breastfed baby feeds every 2-3 hours, you should be doing the same. Prolactin levels are highest between 1-5am, so be sure to pump during that time. This hormone allows you to make more breast milk.
To increase milk supply, you can even continue to pump for 5 minutes after your milk stops to flow to stimulate your nipples. This tells your body that you need more milk.
Full milk production is 25-35 oz. (750-1,035 ml) per day. This takes commitment and hard work since you have to do it several times a day (even through the night). Frequent pumping is key to building milk supply. Maintain a consistent pumping schedule.
At 12 weeks, your supply will be established. You will know how often and how much your baby feeds. Since you are pumping, you can easily track the milk volume. By then, you can drop the number of times you pump in a day. Once mothers have reached full milk production, most can maintain their milk supply by pumping 6-7 times a day.
Once solids have been introduced, the amount of breast milk needed will depend on the solid food offered. Remember, breast milk is still the most important source of nutrition for the first 12 months.
You can get help in feeding your baby.
You can use the time to rest, relax, or take a bath. You can also watch TV or listen to music while you express milk. Just enjoy the free time that you have to yourself.
You really have to feel proud of yourself because as much as exclusively expressing takes a lot of commitment, it is also a HUGE accomplishment!
You can also establish that special bond with your baby.
Mothers worry that they may not be as close to their baby compared to breastfed babies. Since you are still the primary caregiver, you can still develop that closeness through skin-to-skin contact or even lots of cuddles. You should feel good knowing that you are doing everything you can for your child.
If you continue to worry about your milk supply, you can massage your breast as you pump. You can also replace one pumping session with a power pump. Just pick one hour and follow this pattern:
- Pump for 20 minutes and rest for 10 minutes.
- Pump for another 10 minutes and rest for 10 minutes.
- Lastly, pump for 10 more minutes.
You’ve then pumped for 40 minutes within 60 minutes. Results vary, but you can expect it within 3-7 consecutive days of power pumping.
In conclusion, I do think that some mothers don’t breastfeed long enough because they don’t get the right information and support. They need to believe that they can produce enough milk and that their breastfeeding goals are attainable.
If you can, I still encourage you to go for breastfeeding. Babies can suck more milk from your breasts than a pump. Breast milk is also readily available – no need to warm it up and it is portable. Plus, you don’t have bottles and pump accessories to wash. You can instead spend that extra time bonding with your baby.
I would love to hear your personal experience on breastfeeding and/or expressing. This is a great way to support other moms who are in the same boat. Please leave your comments below.