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Breast Feeding

Exclusively Pumping

07/08/2003

Question:

My baby was born 6 weeks early and I had a lot of problems trying to nurse her (she`d fall asleep and I`d end up having to bottle feed her anyway), or she`d bite or suck too aggressively at the beginning and I`d be in a lot of pain.

I have opted to pump exclusively and feed her breastmilk to save myself the pain of her biting me and time (because I inevitably have to bottle feed her anyway).

I have not found much support for exclusively pumping. I plan on freezing as much milk as I can while on maternity leave, but possibly stopping after I go back to work.

Is there anything wrong with this? Also- I have a chronic medical condition in which I cannot take medication while breastfeeding. I would like to go back on my meds once I resume work. Please comment.

Answer:

Pumping breastmilk is one method of ensuring that your daughter receives all of the benefits of human milk. You are providing her with all the nutritional benefits she would receive from being at the breast. Pumping allows you the opportunity to do this, and your daughter is receiving your unique breast milk. However, pumping does require a commitment on your part. You must pump regularly and for a long enough time to get enough milk to meet her needs. If you are not using a double-pump setup, you might want to consider using one of these. With a double-pump set up both breasts are pumped simultaneously. If you need to increase the amount of milk you are getting (in order to meet her needs) you can increase the number of times in a day in which you are pumping. This will increase the total volume you produce. Once your supply has increased you may be able to cut back to your previous number of daily pumpings. Any length of time that you give your daughter breast milk is a significant benefit for your daughter. In regards to your medical condition, have you discussed other medication options with your health care provider? Many times a substitute medication can be used. When you decide to quit pumping you will want to decrease your milk supply gradually. There are several different ways to do this. You can eliminate one pumping session during the day, and once your body has adjusted (usually 3 or 4 days), discontinue another pumping until you are not pumping. Another means is to decrease the volume you pump at each pumping. If you normally get 6 ounces, stop pumping at five ounces for several days and continue to decrease every few days. You can also space out the time between pumping. If you usually go four hours between pumpings, stretch it out to 4 and ½ and then 5 hours. When decreasing your milk supply if your breast become full and you feel uncomfortable you can pump just enough milk from the full breast to make yourself comfortable. Do NOT pump until the breast is empty, or your body will think it needs to make that same amount of milk. Just remember that you have given your daughter a wonderful start to life. 

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Response by:

Tina   Weitkamp, RNC, MSN Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati