The busy-ness of it all could add to the appeal of exclusively pumping. This is when, rather than breastfeeding, a parent expresses breastmilk to feed their baby via a bottle, and it has become increasingly popular among busy parents of late. It may seem convenient to pump, hand over a bottle, and go, but this isn't necessarily the best breastfeeding plan for everyone.
People are most often advised to exclusively pump in cases of prematurity, explains Gladys Vallespir Ellett, RN, IBCLC, LCCE, nurse coordinator of lactation services at NYU Langone Health. Preemies, depending on their size and health, might not be able to nurse, or they're confined to NICU while the mom is recuperating, and she simply can't get in there to nurse enough times a day.
Aside from having a preemie, you may decide to exclusively pump if your baby has a cleft palate, has started teething and now bites, or simply will not latch. Ellett recommends going through with breastfeeding normally if nothing medically bars your baby from nursing, but some moms simply don't want to breastfeed — but still want to make sure their babies get the nutrients in breast milk.
In these cases, it must be said that bottle-feeding breast milk doesn't necessarily offer all of the benefits that breastfeeding does. Ellett says that the act of latching can support the baby's jaw development and strengthen their oral muscles.
Additionally, Research suggests that the baby's saliva, as it's received through mouth-to-nipple contact, sends important information to the mother's body about baby's health and whether they need a boost in infection-fighting white blood cells. Of course, breast milk naturally adjusts its composition as the baby grows and develops, but, without the contact that accompanies latching, it won't change with the same speed and responsiveness.
Making and settling on a breastfeeding plan is a personal — and, often, quite difficult — process. If you find that exclusively pumping makes the most sense for you, there are a few things you need to know. Ahead, Ellett shares five important tips for exclusively pumping.
World Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7 this year, and the entire month of August is devoted to breastfeeding awareness. For more coverage on nursing, pumping, or choosing not to do either, head over to our Mothership page.