By pumping your breast milk, you can provide breast milk for your infant. You can also directly feed at the breast or use donor milk. Direct breastfeeding is the most common way moms provide breast milk for their infants. When the infant shows hunger cues, a mom gets baby to breast and the infant nurses directly. Some moms experience pain due to an ineffective latch, can’t always be with their infant, or do not want to directly breastfeed. These moms may choose pumping breast milk and bottle feeding it to their infant.
Choosing the appropriate pump is very important. If a mom is having difficulty with her milk supply or if her infant is premature or hospitalized, a hospital grade pump is the best choice to maintain or increase her milk supply. Most moms rent these pumps from a hospital or lactation consultant. A full-time, daily use, electric double pump (pumps both breasts at the same time) is the next type of pump to consider. This is the best choice if you are returning to the workforce, will be away from your infant for extended periods of time, or if you want a quick, efficient method for pumping. A single electric pump or a hand pump will drain one breast at a time and is a good choice for a mom who will only be pumping every once in a while (date night with dad, going to the mall and wanting a bottle of breast milk to feed while shopping).
Pumping Breast Milk due to Concerns about Milk Supply
Sometimes moms begin pumping breast milk because of concerns about their milk supply. At times, parents or grandma incorrectly believe that mom’s milk supply is not enough for their infant and they decide or are told to supplement with formula. Many times this is erroneously done and actually by supplementing formula, a mother’s supply will decrease. If there is a concern about supply, it is best to have a lactation consultant assist in the assessment process. It is normal for a newborn to breast feed 10-12 times in 24 hours, for a breast fed infant to feed frequently, for a newborn to want to be held rather than lay in a bassinet all alone, or for a 2 month old to breast feed in the middle of the night. These are all normal and expected and not reasons to start supplementing with formula.
Pumping breast milk and giving some formula
For many reasons, some parents decide to give part breast milk, part formula to their infant. This can be done and is definitely recommended over no breast milk at all. This type of feeding plan usually comes about when a mom’s milk supply cannot meet the infant’s needs or when mom goes back to work and cannot pump at work. Many mothers in this situation breastfeed in the morning, at dinnertime, and maybe once in the night, providing formula feedings at other times of the day.
Donor Breast Milk
Milk banks provide breast milk to an infant when a mother is not able to provide the amounts an infant needs. Typically it’s available for premature, adopted, and sick infants. It can also be provided for infants who do not tolerate or grow well when fed formula. The milk is donated by other mothers, tested for diseases, and pasteurized for added safety. Contact The Human Breast Milk Banking Association of North America for more information.
No matter how you provide breast milk to your infant, offering breast milk is best. Many moms decide to provide breast milk in a bottle. Pumping breast milk is a commonly use option to direct feeding.