Introduction to Breast Pumps
One of the most common accessories of nursing mothers is the breast pump, and it certainly has many advantages.
Breast pumps are useful so that the mother can do other things without having to worry about feeding her baby. Having reserves of expressed milk at home allows the rest of the family to help the mother in the feeding process. Whether it’s because the baby does not latch onto the breast immediately, or the mother has to go to work, a breast pump is a convenient way for the mother to express the milk that has accumulated in her breasts.
There are many methods of expressing breastmilk.
The most basic 20-Rupee pumps, which are basically use-and-throw models, exist simply so the mother can relieve her breasts and discard the milk. (They look very similar to the horns used by auto-wallahs!) This option presents a practical solution to an immediate problem.
Many mothers swear by the technique of expressing by hand. They say it is natural, comfortable, and produces the same amount of milk as if the baby was suckling.
For mothers who are not comfortable or cannot express by hand, there are also mechanical pumps. The more basic version of these requires a mother to manually operate the pumping mechanism. However, there are also electronic pumps that do all the pumping “work” on their own. When choosing an electronic pump, it’s best to avoid those that have a simple on and off switch; every baby is different and every mother is different—they have different suckling rhythms and different levels of comfort when it comes to the breast and nipple. The best electronic pumps are the ones that allow mothers to adjust the speed and suction.
In the case of twins, multiple babies, or pre-term babies needing a full day’s supply of milk – or even for moms who want to get the most milk out of their pumping time – the double breast pump is recommended.
If a mother plans on giving exclusively breast milk, which is certainly preferable to supplementing with formula, it is important to be careful about giving the baby a bottle. It is true that, in many cases, babies who get used to a bottle do not go back to the breast because the suckling action is different. The jaw muscles work in a different way, so if a baby gets used to the bottle suckling action, he will have trouble going back to the breastfeeding action.
If the mother receives all the necessary support while breastfeeding, it shouldn’t be necessary for the baby to ever feed from a bottle. By six months, the baby can graduate to a sippy cup, though it’s ideal for hygiene reasons to try to train the baby to drink directly from a cup without the “sippy” top. By one year of age, many babies will be drinking out of a cup or glass exclusively.
This article has been authored by The Swaddle Team, with input and consultation from Sonali Shivlani. Sonali is an Internationally Certified Pregnancy, Lactation, and Child Nutrition Counselor. More information about her practice can be found at www.sonalishivlani.com.