A Doctor Tells You Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Breast Pumps
One of the biggest concerns that all new mothers have is about feeding the baby. Most of the new moms, especially working moms, wonder if they should switch to formula milk. A breast pump helps a working mother extract her breast milk and store at home.
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Motherhood is a wonderful time in a woman’s life. This wonderful journey begins the moment you learn about your pregnancy, to the first time you feel your baby kick; followed by many such wonderful moments and experiences. Interestingly, motherhood is also a very stressful time! You will probably never come across a mother who has not worried every step of the way.
Feeding: A Big Concern
One of the biggest concerns that all new mothers have is about feeding the baby. Most of the new moms, especially working moms, wonder if they should switch to formula milk. They spend sleepless night, worrying about feeding the baby, without disturbing their work-schedule.
Benefits And Challenges Of Breastfeeding
It’s a well-established fact that breastfeeding has a number of benefits. Mother’s milk is rich in immunoglobulins which help in developing baby’s immunity. Breastfeeding is also considered a bonding activity between a new mother and her infant. However, there are times when a working-mom is unable to breastfeed her child, often because she is in office during her baby’s feeding-time. In this situation, the most convenient option that comes to every working-woman’s mind is – formula milk! It’s a convenient option, but not an ideal one! It should only be considered only in case of an emergency.
What Is A Breast Pump?
In such a tricky situation, a breast pump helps a working mother extract her breast milk and store at home. Stored breast milk can then be provided to the baby, even when the mother is in office!
Women use breast pumps to extract and store the milk for the baby. Breast pumps can either be manual or electric. A manual pump is attached to a ‘balloon’ which is squeezed repeatedly to extract milk, while an electric pump is either battery-operated or runs on electricity. Before attaching the nipple shield, it is important to massage the breast first to loosen the lumps of milk in breasts. These lumps are formed when milk collects in breasts in-between feeding the baby.
How to Use A Breast Pump?
These are the 4 easy steps to extract milk using a breast pump:
- Use three fingers to massage the breast in an inward circular motion for 3-minutes.
- You may also apply a warm compress on the breasts. The nipple shield must then be placed in such a way that it covers the areola completely; and must be firm enough to create suction, but it should not be too tight, so as to allow the nipple to move freely.
- Either switch between the breasts while pumping, or ‘double pump’ i.e. extract milk from both breasts, simultaneously.
- Hold the shield between your thumb and index finger, while supporting your breast with your palm and other fingers.
Don’t worry if you have difficulty stimulating milk flow initially— it takes time to get a hang of it! Worrying will only make it more challenging, so ensure that you are completely relaxed and comfortable, and do not rush the process. Remember that using a breast pump does not feel the same as your baby sucking, but it will produce the same effect once you get accustomed to it. Some women find it easier to extract milk when the baby is in front of them.
The extracted milk must be kept at room temperature for 30-minutes. Refrigerated milk stays fresh for up to 24-hours. It can even be kept in the freezer up to six months, and up to 12-months, in the deep freezer. When in doubt about the quality of the milk, always throw it away.
In today’s competitive world, breast pumps are a boon for working women, since it allows them to feed breast milk to their little ones even when they are physically not available during the feeding time. Numerous studies have shown that formula milk, though specially made for infants, is not a complete substitute of breast milk. Nature, not scientists, has devised the perfect ‘formula’ for infants. Breast milk, as they say, is the best milk!
Dr Pradnya Parulekar is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Global Hospitals, Mumbai.