Can I solely use a breast pump?

Emily - posted on 06/26/2010 ( 13 moms have responded )

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What are the negative aspects to solely pumping? I want my baby to have breast milk, however she refuses to eat from my breast. Pumping and giving her a bottle has been so much easier for me and her - we're both less stressed. Is it bad to continue this way? (I've only been doing this for 1 day so far and it's been so nice) Why do they say it's so important to eat right from the breast if they are getting the same exact milk?

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Dawn - posted on 06/27/2010

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I started out pumping to serve in bottles and breastfeeding as soon as my milk came in. My daughter got her milk from the breast until she was about 6 weeks as well as pumped milk from a bottle. We used the pumped milk when we were going somewhere or if I was leaving her with my husband. She had gotten used to the bottles, so she didn't want the breast anymore. Which was fine with me. My daughter is now 10 months old and I am still pumping exclusively. This works great for me cause I work two jobs and can't be with my baby all the time. I keep about a day or two's supply in the refrigerator. I pump at least 4 times a day to keep my supply going. It works great for me and I don't think the milk is any different than if she was getting it from the breast herself. I plan to breast feed for at least one year and will decide after that if whole milk is the way to go. Pumping is exhausting, but well work it, and FREE!! :) Good luck with everything!

[deleted account]

I used various pumps for 99% of the time I breastfed my son (now 18 months), and yes, my milk production declined... after 9 months :) He was a voracious eater but I was able to keep up with his needs, even exceed them at one point. Just stick to a routine and when you have too much, freeze it; and use a good quality pump (just stick to one brand). It can be done!!! :) Contact me if you need any more info! I became a pro after 9 months of research! lol

Ella - posted on 07/17/2011

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Not reading PP so forgive any redundancy.One of the best reasons for mouth-to-breast nursing is saliva. When your baby is sick/growing/etc your baby's saliva tells your body what she needs. For example your body will change the make up of your milk b/c being skin to skin and her saliva can tell it to. At the breast- is best. If you are choosing between pumping and formula- then pumping by all means. Skin-to-skin is good for Mama too, it helps w/depression, anxiety, and milk production.

Somethings I recommend w/Breast Feeding

1)have BFing station, a space where everyone in your life know that is yours and baby's spot

2)Keep it stocked w/food, water, entertainment for Mama (remotes, reading, computer, ipod/iphone)

3)Anticipate feedings, sit and enjoy a cuddle BEFORE she is ravenous- gives you time to center and your baby and you time to connect before 'business'. It is a way of life, is causes you to slow down, but trust me- you'll never regret it b/c in under a year- it will be so different.

4)SMILE and hum/sing to your baby, it soothes you and is so good for you both!



(When you do need to pump remember your milk is best between 3-5am!)



Good luck- enjoy the journey- it is all too short.. :)

13 Comments

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Elizabeth - posted on 07/20/2011

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Your baby can empty you out better than any pump and thus keeps your milk supply up. If you are solely pumping it will be harder to keep it up, but it's not impossible. There are people that have to do it for various reasons and get by. It's more work overall though so if you can avoid it, it's just easier.

Holly Janelle - posted on 07/20/2011

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Ok the same thing happened to me and my hospital had a great team of lactation consultants and I called them set up a time to come up there and they sat with me and helped me though the process and anytime I called and needed help they would set up another appointment. My daughter is 4 month as of yesterday and we are an awesome Breastfeeding team now! I love every minute of it and I'm so proud to be able to say that :) Call the lactation consultants whenever you have a question about anything I promise you can never call too much. The lactation consultants knew who I was by my voice I didn't even have to say my name anymore my messages sounded like this, " hey guys it's me again.. We need help call me back thank you!". Call them thats what they are paid for and thats what they are there for. I really admire what your doing, and I wish you and your sweet little one that best of luck! I'm sure very soon you will be able to say the same, " we make an awesome team together!!".



About the pumping question. I'm sure thar it's possible but I have heard (not from personal experience) that its really hard to keep up your supply because it's not the same as your baby. They extract far more milk than a pump can and they completely empty the breast which triggers your body to make more and a pump can't do that. But again that's kist what I have heard it's not from personal experience.

Lucie - posted on 07/20/2011

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You can do it, but it's not suggested. A breast pump will not extract as much milk as a human child can. How old is your baby? Does she have latch-on issues? I know for me it took (both times) about 3 to 4 months for baby to latch on right, me to be comfortable, and things to work the way they should. Part of the issues you can have at first is engorgement, improper mouth placement on the nipple (thus being too shallow), or their mouth is just too small. For my 1st I pumped solely about 2 weeks, then then things got better with nursing. My 2nd doesn't like the bottle at all. My niece pumped for about 3 months, then soley nursed her son. If it works for you now, then do it, but I think long term you may get real tired of that extra step. I also used a nipple shield for my 1st because of improper latch-on pain (2nd didn't like it at all), and after 2 months he 'told' me to stop using it. The nipple shield may fool baby into thinking your nipple is a bottle and like it. But from what I've read pumps never get as much out as a baby.

Bronwyn - posted on 07/20/2011

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I have 4 kids. My third was an early preemie, so I exclusively pumped for him while he was in the hospital and for a couple of months after until we transitioned to breastfeeding. The two biggest drawbacks to pumping to me are:
1) all the equipment (pumping and bottles) and keeping it clean. That may sound trivial, but knowing what it was like to not have to worry about how clean everything was with my other kids kind of soured me to it
2) my cycles came back much sooner. With my other kids, I didn't have a period for almost the entire time we nursed. But with my pumping, I got a period, albeit without ovulation, at 3 months post-partum.

Having said that, yes, I think it can be done. You've already gotten some good advice on keeping up supply, so I won't reiterate that. Good luck!

Laurie - posted on 07/10/2011

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I pumped exclusively with both my children so it can certainly be done. The key is to have a good quality double electric pump. You will find (probably) that once you get your milk established you will be able to pump four times a day (first thing in morning (6/7 am), about noon, about 5pm and then last thing before bed (10pm or so)). If baby goes through a growth spurt then you just start pumping more often (every three hours or so during the day) until your supply increases to match the baby's needs. I tended to try to keep a full day ahead in the fridge so when the growth spurts happened, it gave me some time to build up the supply while my kids ate through the excess in the fridge so that they weren't hungry while I was increasing my supply. I was pumping 40+ ounces a day in four sessions at the height of milk production. Usually 12-15 in the morning and 8 or so at the other three sessions. I didn't find it particularly exhausting but I was also at home, not trying to work outside the home which probably helped a lot. I started the pumping because my son had such a strong suck that when he did it wrong it hurt all day. It was just easier most of the time to continue pumping. I did however feed him directly once and a while (several times a week - maybe once a day) and I noticed that my production was always higher just after one of his direct feed sessions so you might want to consider direct feeding occasionally as well. He never had a problem going back and forth, sometimes in the same feed! It came in handy when I was out and about (over at my parents house for dinner and ran out of milk in a bottle, out shopping with no hot water handy) or if he had cleaned out the fridge and was too hungry to wait for me to pump!

Emily - posted on 06/27/2010

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The biggest reason that it's better to work on directly breastfeeding is that babies are better for your supply than a pump. Our bodies were designed to respond to a baby suckling, not a plastic machine. While there are some cases of moms successfully pumping only, these cases are not the majority.

Also, pumping rather than nursing is twice as time-consuming, because not only do you have to pump (around the clock), you also have to feed that bottle and clean bottle parts. When your baby is small and sleeps all the time, this doesn't seem like a problem, but once your baby is awake a lot and is mobile, you will have less and less time to be tied down to a pump. I had to exclusively pump for my premature daughter for awhile until she was able to nurse... let me tell you, there is nothing more heartbreaking than listening to your baby cry and not being able to go to them because you're not done pumping yet. I was sooooo much happier when she was able to finally nurse directly from me.

Have you tried using a nipple shield yet? This can help baby to latch.. it's a temporary measure but can help immensely in the beginning. I would also advise getting in contact with an experienced lactation consultant. Also I ditto the advice to go to a LLL meeting.

Ella - posted on 06/27/2010

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Is there a LLL meeting in your area? If so GO ASAP! It will help!

Have you tried multiple positions? do you have a flat or inverted nipple?
They pump will work- BUT not like the mouth. The baby's suck helps to empty the entire breast and your body responds to the different sucks that the baby has. A little known fact, is that your babies saliva tells your body what nutrients it needs-daily- so it isn't the 'same' milk. If baby is sick then milk changes. By feeding at the breast you are making certain that your baby gets what is needed each day for its body.

Good for you for breastfeeding!!!!!!!!!!

[deleted account]

Apart from the lovely bond breastfeeding builds, the main benefit of breastfeeding directly, is that baby's sucking is is more efficient then pumping in creating good supply of breastmilk.

If you prefer to bottle feed, you need to be really careful to keep your supply up - watch carefully for signs that she might be having a growth spurt, like wanting to drink more, being unsettled. That's a sign that your baby needs more milk, so you'll need to pump more frequently for a while until she's satisfied.

Just as more frequent breastfeeding is they keep to keeping your supply when breastfeeding, so more frequesnt pumping is the key to keeping your supply when bottle-feeding expressed breast milk. Many women feel that various herbs can help with supply issues, so you might want to discuss this with a lactation consultant.

Also, if you do want to try breastfeeding your baby directly, a lactation consultant might be able to help with latching problems.

All the best.

Leslye - posted on 06/26/2010

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Dear Emily: If you are not enjoying breastfeeding than pumping and bottle feeding is the next best thing. My concern as a lactation consultant would be maintaining your milk supply. You need to be diligent in pumping on a very regular basis and if you start to notice you are not able to keep up with your baby's needs you should immediately begin taking herbs. Which herbs depends upon how quickly your supply has dropped. Fenugreek, which you can find at most health food stores in capsule form, can be taken easily without much supervision. Anything else should be taken with the guidance of a lactation consultant. Leslye Adelman

Leslie - posted on 06/26/2010

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I only pumped. It's possible. Everybody will probably tell you that your milk supply will decrease and it's not possible to maintain your milk from solely pumping. I never once physically breastfed and I pumped for 9 months, but had enough milk to get my daughter to 1 year. I took Fenugreek for a while and made sure that I drank plenty of water to help with supply issues. I pumped at most 6 times a day (about 30 mins each time) but at the end, I was only pumping 4 times a day and never overnight since she started sleeping all night very early.

I found that using the bottles with the bag inserts was very easy and I didn't have to constantly wash bottles. All I washed were the nipples and I just threw them in the dishwasher.

One thing that is important is that you have someone at home to help you. My husband was ultra supportive and enjoyed his time with all my children while I pumped. He was also able to help with feedings.

Good luck with whatever you end up choosing to do!!

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