The benefits of breastfeeding are well documented. But things do not always go as planned.
There are many instances where a mother who intends to breastfeed her baby may not be able to do so directly.
However this does not mean that she cannot provide her baby with the benefits of breastmilk.
This is where expressing breast milk and using a breast pump comes in. It’s a way to feed your baby your own breast milk, when feeding straight from your breast to baby’s mouth isn’t always possible.
Here are some examples of when you might need a breast pump, and the advantages of expressing breast milk.
Babies who are premature, unwell, or have special needs, e.g. cleft palate/lip, down syndrome etc. and are unable to breastfeed properly
If your bub is born too early, is too sick, or has another medical reason they can’t latch or suck properly, you can express or pump your milk to feed. Pumping during these times helps keep your supply up, and make sure your breasts are adequately emptied too.
Maintaining or increasing supply
Pumping will help to maintain and increase your supply if you have troubles with milk coming in and providing enough to satisfy your baby every feed. This is particularly helpful if you have multiples – you can try to increase your supply so all of your babies can have breast milk.
Inducing milk supply for non-biological babies
If you’re adopting a baby and want to breastfeed to help form a bond, pumping can help to induce your milk supply so that you can breastfeed like other new mums.
Returning to work
Some mums need to go back to work while they’re still breastfeeding, and some choose to go back during that time. That doesn’t mean your bub can no longer have breast milk. Pumping will help this situation so your baby can have breast milk while you are at work.
Relieving breast engorgement
Sometimes your baby doesn’t need all the milk you produce in order to thrive. This is when your breasts become engorged – which can be mighty painful! You can pump the excess out to relieve some of that discomfort. Some mums even donate their oversupply to a milk bank to help those mums who don’t have as strong a supply.
Using a breast pump as well as breastfeeding normally can help you heal if you are suffering from mastitis.
Supplementing feeds with breast milk
Your baby might need some extra feeds to help keep them full. Instead of using formula, you can try expressing to use breast milk at your supplemental feeds if you have enough milk to do so.
Helping overcome flat or inverted nipples
This can sometimes be helped by pumping for a bit to draw out your flat or inverted nipples before your baby feeds so they can latch on easier.
Continuing to supplement breast milk after weaning
If your bub weans from your breast before solid food should be their main source of nutrition, you can express any breast milk that still comes through to supplement their solid food meals, rather than switching to formula at that time.
This blog post is sponsored by Medela.
NOTE: This information is not intended to replace actual medical advice. If you have any concerns or questions regarding your baby or breastfeeding, contact your health care provider.