When it comes to feeding your baby, the choice isn't just breastfeeding or formula feeding. There is an in-between choice that is sometimes overlooked — with the amazing help of breast pumps, moms can easily bottle feed their babies breast milk. Some moms may choose a combination of pumping and breastfeeding, others may choose to supplement with formula, but there are moms who choose to just pump. Why should you exclusively pump, though? Are there reasons to try it?
A popular reason many moms exclusively pump is for distance between them and their baby. Many moms who work or may need to share the responsibility of feeding would benefit from exclusively pumping. I know that it was hard for my sister to breastfeed her twins because she went back to work soon after they were born, and she had to pump to make sure they were still getting breast milk.
Sometimes unpredictable circumstances can push you towards pumping exclusively, too. Romper reached out to International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Lori Atkins of Oh, Baby Lactation Care, who says that some moms start preparing to exclusively breastfeed, but end up exclusively pumping because it isn't working out as planned.
Atkins suggests that moms may find difficulty nursing at the breast for a variety of reasons. Maybe their baby couldn't latch, or their baby has a cleft lip and palate, so they're unable to make a tight seal around the nipple. There may even be other neurological or anatomical issues with mom or baby that make it tough for direct breast contact.
IBCLC Lindsay Greenfield tells Romper that mothers may choose to pump exclusively if their babies have Down syndrome, heart defects, or any other issue that causes exhaustion during breastfeeding to the point where they aren't getting sufficient nutrition to sustain appropriate weight gain. Greenfield adds that some mothers who have been victims of sexual trauma find that breastfeeding is psychologically difficult, but that exclusively pumping doesn't pose the same dilemma.
She suggests, however, adding your breast to the mix once in a while. "I would still recommend a combination of direct breastfeeding and pumping to ensure hormonal and mechanical balance of emptying the breast," Greenfield says.
Whether you choose to exclusively pump or not, Atkins says that no matter how you're choosing to feed your babies, no matter what the circumstances dictate, you need support. "What matters most is that moms feel supported and get the right help as they go through their journey," she says.
Whether you choose to exclusively breastfeed, pump, or formula feed, the fact that you are taking the time out to find what's right for your baby, shows your level of commitment and love. That makes you a great parent, no matter what you decide.