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Is it okay to use a breast pump? This is what a lactation expert has to say

Updated on:7 August 2020, 13:50pm IST
Breast pumps can be really helpful for mothers whose babies still depend on breast milk for nutrition. But, is it safe?
Nikita Bhardwaj
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The nectar of life can be affected by antibiotics. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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You don’t have to be an expert to know that natural breastfeeding is a healthier option as compared to pumped breast milk. But, as much as you want to take the natural route, there are times when certain situations demand that you go for pumping.

Currently, a breast pump is a fairly new device and women have multiple misconceptions about it. From breast soreness to sagginess, there are multiple charges against the breast pump. However, you need to know what a lactation expert has to say about it.

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According to Dr. Aarthi Priyadarshini, a lactation expert at Motherhood Hospital, Chennai, no lactation expert will advise any mother to use the breast pump from day one. The first preference should always be direct feeding because it takes time for the baby to get accustomed to different feeding methods.

Also, read: 5 myths about breastfeeding that all new moms should stop believing

But, if the baby is reluctant to go for direct feeding even two to three days after having tried, using the breast pump becomes a viable option.

breast pump
No ladies, breast pumps are not a bad idea. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Why do you need to pump breast milk?
Nowadays, there are many women who work full-time. Sooner or later, we need to step back into the professional field after the delivery but that doesn’t mean that our baby should miss out on the essential nutrients. This is the primary reason behind the growing popularity of the breast pump. Other than that, they are used when:

1. The baby is reluctant to suck on the mother’s breast.
2. The baby is under observation, the mothers are asked to pump milk.
3. In case there are multiple births from a single pregnancy.
4. If the mother is under a medication that reduces the production of breast milk.
5. There is excess milk production. Our expert even said, “There are mothers who lactate more and produce excess milk. We ask such mothers to use the pump and give the excess milk for donation as well.”

Is pumped breast milk safe for the child?
Of course, the milk will not be as pure as what the baby gets from direct feeding but if you follow the guidelines shared by the lactation expert and take care of the hygiene, then there is no problem at all.

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“In breastfeeding, the child stops sucking the breast when s/he is full. But, the chances of overfeeding are higher when it comes to pumped milk. That’s why I advise mothers to use a spoon rather than a bottle. In fact, using bottles causes another problem. Your baby might develop nipple confusion. This increases the chances of the young one becoming reluctant to suck on yours”, she explained.

Is it alright to pump milk and bottle it up?
“If you are working and if there is extensive feeding required, only then you should store milk in bottles. You should maintain a temperature of  90°F or 32°C. Moreover, it should be used within 4 hours of storage”, she suggests.

Is it hard to use a breast pump?
“Not at all. Nowadays, there are so many options that are available in the market. Anyone can use it without any pain or complication”, she suggests.

Are there disadvantages of using a breast milk pump?
According to Dr. Priyadarshini, there is only one major concern which is when a baby sucks on the mother’s breast, s/he is able to consume the essential DHAs and fats needed for brain development. That doesn’t happen with breast milk pumps.

breast pump
It is very easy to use the breast pump. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Tips to use breast milk pumps?
It goes without saying that sterilization is required. Steaming the pump for 10 minutes is a must. But, there are other things that you need to know while using a breast pump:

1. Using a breast pump doesn’t mean that you won’t be required to directly feed at all. “We always advise women to use them both simultaneously for better stimulation. The baby can feed from one breast and you can use the pump on the other breast so that both get emptied”, she explained. In fact, this process helps te breasts get stimulated.
2. Don’t use the pump at night. After 8 PM, try to directly breastfeed the child since prolactin is released in the body towards the end of the day.
3. If you are using a double breast pump, use it for 10 minutes. In the case of a single breast milk pump, use it for 20 to 30 minutes. Otherwise, you could end up with sore nipples.

So, ladies, we know you want to give your kid the best. However, when you don’t have a choice, there is no harm in choosing the breast pump.

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Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.