When I conduct my prenatal classes – I find that expecting moms are intently focused on the breastfeeding session. I love this because over and above everything else newborn babies need breast milk to survive and thrive. And it makes me very happy to note that new moms now recognize that and are willing to do all they can to breastfeed their babies.
Most of these moms successfully practice direct nursing and breastfeed their babies for more than a year. But there are cases where moms are unable to establish and continue breastfeeding for one reason or another.
In the past – these moms were compelled to feed their babies formula milk. With the availability of breast pumps that are economical and efficient, mothers who cannot breastfeed, and are determined not to give their babies formula feeds have the option of adopting Exclusive Pumping to ensure that their babies are not deprived of the irreplaceable benefits of breast milk.
What is Exclusive Pumping
Exclusive Pumping is the process of removing breast milk from the breasts at regular intervals throughout the day. This milk is then refrigerated. The baby is fed this milk through a bottle on demand.
When do mothers choose Exclusive Pumping?
Some mothers need to choose exclusive pumping when their babies are not able to latch or suckle. This may happen in case babies have cleft lip / palate etc.
Mothers may also need to choose exclusive pumping if they are not able to stay with their babies because they must go back to work.
How to begin Exclusive Pumping
In the first few days after the birth of the baby, colostrum is produced instead of milk. This is best expressed by hand. Do not use a pump for the first 3-4 days after birth. Instead hand express colostrum 10-12 times a day.
Once the mature milk comes in – start pumping every 2-3 hours and pump for 20 – 40 minutes every time or until the milk stops flowing.
It takes 3 to 4 weeks for breast milk flow to be established.
After this period you can have one long gap of 4 to 5 hours between pumping sessions during the night to get some rest.
However, it is important to pump every two hours early in the morning between 2 am to 7 am because that is the time when milk flow is at its peak.
As babies grow, the amount of milk produced also increases. However, the supply of breast milk is based on demand. To convey greater demand to the breasts therefore, pump for another 5 to 10 minutes for more stimulation after the milk flow has stopped.
Ensure complete emptying of the breast after pumping. Hand express if necessary.
Things to keep in mind for Exclusive Pumping
- Do not feel judged. Choosing Exclusive Pumping does not mean you are choosing the easy way. Exclusive Pumping takes time, is exhausting and requires tremendous discipline and dedication.
- Match your pumping schedule to your baby’s feeding schedule. This will ensure that you have enough milk even during growth spurts.
- Refrigerate excess milk so that it can be used later.
- Practice skin to skin if possible before pumping.
- Pump longer and more frequently, rather than harder for more milk supply. Keep the suction strength at minimum.
Inventions like the breast pump help you to ensure that your baby does not miss out on the benefits of breast milk even if direct nursing is not possible. Embrace Exclusive Pumping in consultation with your lactation consultant without any hesitation when necessary.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com She conducts online and offline workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She also conducts online and offline prenatal and infant care classes. She is a well-known thought-leader in parenting and an expert on play, learning and eating habits. Her books on parenting are published by Juggernaut Books and are among their most read books. She is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute for her empathetic and compassionate approach to parenting and her application of physiology and brain science to parenting.