11 situations in which you will need a breast pump

It’s a good idea to buy a breast pump before the baby arrives. It can help solve many lactation problems that a new mother may have to face. Find out why a breast pump can be useful.

Future mums often think that breast pumps are mainly needed when leaving the baby with someone else for a while, and so they postpone the purchase. Then they discover that a breast pump is most useful right after the birth, when the first problems with breastfeeding occur.

Below are some of the situations where a breast pump can prove helpful:

1. Premature birth

A premature birth can be associated with many complications. The baby’s organs may not be sufficiently developed, it may have difficulty suckling, swallowing or digesting food, and it is usually fed through a probe or enterally, as in most cases breastfeeding is impossible. Therefore, it is recommended that mothers of premature babies pump milk (every 3 hours, using the 7-5-3 method). The mother’s milk is the best source of nutrition for a premature baby, as it is better and more quickly digested. It also contains the antibodies necessary to build the immunity that premature babies lack. The free fatty acids and hormones in breast milk have positive effects on the development of systems and organs, especially the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract.

See also: Breastfeeding a premature baby

2. Caesarean section

After a C-section, the reaction of the mother’s organism may be delayed, and there may be difficulties with milk production at first. The necessity to separate the child can also pose a problem. In this case, inducing and maintaining lactation with the use of a breast pump is very important. Breast milk should be expressed every 2-3 hours, at least 8 times a day. Do not be discouraged by the small amounts of milk produced in the first pumping sessions. The quantity will increase with every passing day.

See also: Breastfeeding after a Caesarean section

3. The baby is sleepy and does not want to suckle

After the birth some newborns wake up often to eat, while others are tired, sleepy and do not want to suck the breast. In this case, it is very important to express milk with a breast pump. It will help to preserve lactation, and you can continue breastfeeding when the baby becomes more active.

4. Bleeding nipples

In the first days of breastfeeding, mothers frequently complain about bleeding nipples. The most common causes include incorrect breastfeeding technique, a shallow latch, greedy swallowing or incorrect removal of the nipple from the baby’s mouth. Good care and treatment of the nipples is usually enough, including applying the mother's own milk to them, airing or administering sage extract compresses to ensure healing. Sometimes the pain is unbearable, and feeding only worsens the condition of the nipples, which is when a breast pump comes in useful. While waiting for the injuries to heal, the mother can express milk and give it to the baby by using accessories that do not impair the sucking reflex.

5. Inverted or flat nipples

This condition makes it difficult for the baby to latch on. Therefore, it is advisable to work on applying and pulling out the nipple. You can do this using a finger, a syringe with an inverted plunger, as well as a breast pump, by expressing milk after feeding, and between feeds.

6. Breast engorgement

Breast engorgement typically occurs 3-5 days after the birth. The breast become painful, swollen, hard and filled with milk. To alleviate this condition, to slightly soften the breasts and help the baby to latch on, you should express a small amount of milk before feeding. Do not pump large quantities, as this will result in excessive milk production, retention and breast inflammation.

7. Insufficient milk supply

Mothers are often worried that they do not have enough milk. They experience doubts, especially when lactation normalises, the breasts become soft and produce less milk than at the beginning, or when, due to a developmental leap, the baby demands more milk than before. However, this does not mean that the amount of milk produced is insufficient. The difference between an apparent and actual insufficient milk supply is described in the article: What are the differences between an apparent and actual insufficient milk supply?

If the baby’s weight gain is poor, and the child uses less than 6 nappies daily, it may be a sign of insufficient milk supply. To increase the production of milk, stimulate lactation using a breast pump. Express the milk with an electric breast pump between feeds (but also try to breastfeed the baby as often as you can). This will induce the production of milk.

8. Mum needs to sleep

Does feeding at night make you constantly tired, leaving you without energy to play with your child during the day? Ask your partner for help, and use a breast pump to express a few portions of milk. Before going to bed, prepare a bottle warmer and place the milk next to it. Your partner can warm up the milk and feed the baby when it wakes, allowing you to finally get some sleep. However, remember that this is not a permanent solution. You should only use it in special circumstances. The composition of day milk and night milk differs: babies receive important hormones with the night milk that help calm them and sleep better. Night-time nursing is also beneficial for lactation, as it increases the level of prolactin, which is largely responsible for milk production.

9. Using medication

In certain situations mothers need to use medications that prevent breastfeeding. To avoid suppressing the lactation, you should express milk with a breast pump for the entire duration of the therapy, and feed the baby using accessories that do not disturb breastfeeding. If the treatment is planned in advance, it is advisable to begin storing milk earlier.

10. Drinking alcohol

If you are planning to have a small amount of alcohol, it is enough to feed the baby before, and wait 2 hours after drinking. However, if you are planning to have a larger quantity of alcohol, use a breast pump to express a few portions of milk before the party, and store them in the fridge. After the event express some milk and discard it, to prevent milk retention, and then feed the baby with the milk stored in the fridge. Do not breastfeed if you can still feel the effects of alcohol.

11. Mum’s day out

Mothers also have the right to rest. Want to meet with friends, or go to a fitness class? Use a breast pump to express some milk and leave your baby in the loving care of your partner or the baby’s grandparents. A breast pump is also useful when a mother returns to work and still wants to feed the baby with breast milk.

Read about our Expert electric breast pump, an expert in milk expression and solving lactation problems.

 

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