Like it or not, most things in life come with some sort of controversy. One would think that wanting to give your baby the health benefits of breast milk, no matter how that is accomplished, would be an exception. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists both strongly recommend breast feeding. Research is confirming that breast milk is, by far, the best choice to feed an infant. Medical experts and common sense agree that milk from the mother contains a nearly ideal mix of nutrients, provided in a way that is most easily assimilated by the baby. Breast milk contains antibodies, specifically designed to protect against viruses and bacteria, and babies who are breastfed rather than given formula for at least the first six months have far fewer medical issues.
Unfortunately, even with breast feeding, there is disagreement. Breast feeding in public has inspired a huge outpouring of opinion, from both sides of the debate, and is unlikely to end any time soon. Less public are the issues of breast milk versus formula and breast feeding versus feeding via pumped breast milk. The formula discussion has its own issues, but pumping is a bit more subtle. There are those that contend that pumping is somewhat unnatural, and that there is something lost between mother and child when feeding is done other than directly from breast to child.
No one argues the value of bonding that takes place during breast feeding, but breast milk is breast milk, whether the baby receives it while latched to the breast or from a bottle that has been previously expressed. Many women are unable to breast feed because of medical reasons, and others simply choose not to do so. They do recognize the tremendous value for the baby and believe that every time feeding consists of breast milk, the baby wins. This is where pumping comes in and, for many, feels like a life saver.
Reasons That Women Pump Breast Milk
Some of the more common reasons that women pump breast milk, include:
- Return to work or some other reason that separates mother from baby but allows feeding of breast milk to be done by family member or caretaker.
- Baby is unable to latch or feed directly from the breast. This could be a medical issue, for instance premature babies sometimes have difficulty creating enough suction to stimulate a full breast milk supply, or there may be some sort of birth abnormality, like a lip or cleft palate or muscle tone issue.
- Prevent or relieve engorgement.
- To donate milk to a milk bank or milk exchange program.
- Alleviate pressure during weaning stage.
- Need to drain breast during mastitis to facilitate healing.
- Parents may be separated and father need breast milk if sharing custody of the baby.
- Mother may be incarcerated and not permitted to breast feed.
In other instances, mothers recognize the value of breast milk for their baby but cannot bring themselves to actually breast feed or simply do not want to. There are a variety of reasons for this, but the important part is finding a way for the baby to receive the enhanced nutritional value of breast milk. Pumping is, currently, the best way for that to be done.
If you would like to learn more about preparing for having a baby, please watch this video: