Wednesday, February 12, 2014

To Breast Or Not To Breast...That Is The Question

Good afternoon mommas! Over the last few days I have received quite a few e-mails form expecting moms asking about breastfeeding.  The question most asked was "what is the difference between nursing and pumping expressed milk?"  I myself both pump and direct nurse.  Ultimately it is whatever works for you and your baby, whether that be nursing, expressed breastmilk or formula.  For those mommas who chose not to breastfeed, that is totally okay! We are so lucky to have the science and technology out there to allow companies to continue perfecting formulas to fit our babies!  For those of you who are considering breastfeeding or are already, I am going to give you some pros and cons about nursing versus pumping and some tips to help with any concerns or questions you may have.
Before I had my son I was absolutely terrfied of breastfeeding.  I "what if-ed" myself to death.  What if I don't produce enough? What if my son won't latch? What if it is really painful? The list goes on. To start off, the stress and anxiety moms have about breastfeeding will make it more difficult for you to feed because your baby will sense that and it will decrease your milk supply.  First things first, try your best to be relaxed about what you chose to do.  Since we are speaking strictly about breastmilk, you should know that breastmilk is Vitamin D deficiant.  As a solution, I put a drop of vitamin D in my son's milk once a day or give him the drop directly if I am nursing.  You can find Enfamil Vitamin D drops in your local drugstore.
Here are some pros and cons about each to help give you some guidance.

Pros about pumping breastmilk:

If you are out with your baby you do not have to go find a discrete place to feed and be worried about judgemental people.  I can't understand why, but there are many people that find it offensive when you are out in public and need to nurse your baby.  Some places even have strict rules about nursing.  It does not make sense to me, but out of respect for those who take offense it is nice to have a bottle at the ready.

Someone else will be able to feed the baby at any point in the day.  This will allow you to get a nap in or if the baby is sleeping through the night, you can wake up your partner to feed the baby so you can get some extra rest.  
Since I both pump and direct feed, I love that when my husband is home he can feed our son so I can go get something to eat, take a shower, or tidy up.  Having the pumped milk in a bottle also gives your partner the chance to bond in some way with the baby and helps your partner feel more involved.  My husband is the type to have a hand in everything and it definitely helps that he can feed the baby.  It gives them some time together and it makes my husband feel much more included.

If you are going back to work, you can set a schedule and pump in the bathroom or a back room at work.  This way the baby will still be able to get your milk. We are so fortunate with how progressed the breast pumps have become.  Mine is the Medela "on the go tote." It is a tote bag which you can store all your bottles, brushes, and soaps in along with anything you need for the baby.  It also comes with a little case that hold a specific ice pack and 4 bottles of milk. It's very discrete, quick and easy.

I am not sure if all women experience this, but I found nursing to be extremely painful.  The baby has a much harder suction than the breast pump so you will find a pump to be much easier on your nipples.  I know many of my girlfriends and my own mom said how painful it was nursing.  If you are experiencing a difficult time with cracked, dry or sore nipples I highly recommend using lanolin.  It is perfectly safe for your baby and truly helps.  I use the medela lanolin or the lansinoh lanolin.  Both are great products it is whatever your preference is.

Pumping is much faster than nursing.  You never want to rush your baby while they are eating or get impatient because they will sense that.  If pumping, you want to pump 15 to 20 minutes per pumping and you can do both breasts at the same time.  Some women just don't have the time to sit with their baby for 45 minutes to an hour every 2 to 4 hours with all that needs to get done around the house.

With pumping, the amount of milk is measured.  You will know exactly how much your baby is getting.  I found this to be a huge plus because I know exactly when I need to burp him to avoid from projectile vomitting or even just a little bit of spit up and when his pediatrcian asks me how much is he eating, I have an exact answer.

You will always have a back supply if your supply weakens at points or if you want to go out and have a few drinks, you have reserves at the ready.

Cons about pumping breastmilk:

Pumping milk is a bit more taxing on the body.  You have created a little more work for youself if you are pumping and alone with the baby.  You will have to feed your baby then express your milk or vice versa.

Washing the bottles is time consuming and can become a pain in the neck if you don't stay on top of it.  I find using the proper bottle brushes and a soap specific to washing bottles makes it a bit easier, but still time consuming.  Just a tip in washing bottles, using a soap specific to bottles makes a huge difference versus using Palmolive.  The way the soap suds and sticks to the bottles is very different.  Bottle soap such as Dapple is created to sud different and won't leave a film on the inside of the bottle.

For that morning feed, when you are still exhausted, having to get up and go to the fridge and warm up the bottle probably isn't what you want to do first thing in the morning.

There are some expenses associated with pumping that are not with nursing.  Most of the pumping equipment comes with the pump but you will need extra bottles and some relacement pieces such as, nipples, rims for the bottles and membranes for the pump.  If your baby doesn't like the bottles that come with the pump (Medela bottles) you will need to try out different ones which can also cost a little.

Depending on the bottle you are using the baby can have a higher air intake with a bottle rather than a breast.  This depends on the bottle used.  Us moms are so lucky they have come out with bottles like Tommie Tippie which are made to prevent gas and colic.  I use these and have been successful in my experience.

You won't have as much bonding time unless you make an effort to have that skin to skin contact with your baby.

Pros about nursing:

You have a complete bond with your baby.  You won't have to set aside specific time for skin to skin contact because you and your baby will get it with every feed.

No bottles to wash!  You save the 10 to 15 minutes it takes waashing the bottles and parts for the breast pump, which in mommy time, 10 to 15 minutes makes a huge difference!  That could be a quick power nap!

There is a very minimal expense.  You would only need to buy nursing covers for when nursing in public.

You do not need to worry about the temperature of the milk because it is direct.  With bottle feeding it is super important to have the bottle at the right temperature because it can cause the baby to have an upset stomach if too hot or too cold.

When in doubt, whip it out! If the baby is fussing and crying you just take out your breast and calm down the baby rather than having to wait to get the milk and warm it up escalating the baby to a much higher degree of anger.

Cons about nursing:

Direct nursing is much more time consuming.  It could take up to an hour for some babies versus 20 minutes.

Unfortunately, dealing with judgemental people is a con.  As I stated before, I can't understand it, but there are many people out there who don't want to see mother's breastfeeding their baby.  

You have to be with the baby at all times.  There is no quick running to the store or anything.  As long as you are direct feeding you must be at the ready.

Your partner will not be able to share in the experience of feeding.  For some, like my husband, it can create some sadness and disconnect because they don't feel as needed by the baby.

As I said before, I found my experience very painful! The baby is much more intense than a pump.

If all your baby knows is breast it can make the weening transition much more difficult.  If the baby is introduced to a bottle and breast from the very beginning the baby is less likely to be opinionated about what he or she is getting.

I hope this helps a bit if you are trying to decide what to do.  If you having any questions, comments or concerns please contact me! I am here to listen and guide. I can't stress enough, do not hesitate!  Thanks so much for reading!

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