Breastfeeding

To Exclusively Pump or Not?

I am about to become a FTM and have been thinking about what method I want to use to deliver breast milk to our son.  The idea of pumping appeals to me for several reasons:  I need to return to work sporadically starting at 6 weeks, I want my husband to be able to be involved in the feeding process, I like the idea of being able to track/measure just how much our little guy eats at each feeding.

My big question has to do with whether or not I want to breastfeed AND pump, or try to exclusively pump.  For ladies who have made this decision in the past:

- What method did you settle on?  What influenced this decision?

- If you EP, did you start pumping from day one, or were there still a few days/weeks of nursing?

- What are the challenges to using both methods, or to EPing?

Thanks so much for any advice.  I am trying to learn as much about both options as I can! 

Me: 30 DH: 29
Expecting our first child!

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Re: To Exclusively Pump or Not?

  • I BF and pump, so i can only speak to that. When I'm with baby I BF and pump at work. BFing is definitely convenient no bottles to warm, things to wash or stuff to pack if you're going somewhere. Kiddo takes bottles at daycare and at home if I'm away for a while. For me its the best of both worlds and is working great.
  • I exclusively pumped for my 2yo, and I am again for this LO. With my 1st, I tried off and on for 2 months to get him to breastfeed. He did great for the first week, but had a bad latch that caused me a lot of pain, so I started pumping. I worked with a LC to get him back to breast, it never worked out for us. I pumped for 10 months and used my freezer stash to get to his 1st bday.

    This time, I had ever intention of breastfeeding, no pumping, but DS#2 ended up having respiratory distress/pneumonia and ended up in the NICU for 10 days, that really put a damper on our BF relationship. I spend a lot of time trying to get him to BF, but decided EPing is best for my family.

    EPing is a lot of work. You pump, feed the baby, and then wash all the pump parts. You have to be very committed in the beginning, pumping ever 2-3hrs around the clock, like baby would eat to establish a supply. It's definitely doable, and whichever option you choose, you are doing a awesome thing for your baby.

    I would suggest trying BFing from the beginning, it's easier to estalish a supply with the baby than the pump. Introduce a bottle early so baby won't have problems when you go back to work, and you can switch back and forth if baby will. GL momma!

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  • I EP due to poor latching and weight loss in the beginning.  EP is hard and alot of work.  Imagine yourself attached to a pump 8 - 10 times a day.  When you are done pumping, LO is eating and then you are pumping again to keep up.   If your LO will BF I would reccommend that over EP.  I continue to try and go back to BF but LO is so used to the easy way (bottle use) of getting milk he refuses to nurse for more than a few minutes at a time.  You could always add a pump session at night so DH can be involved and you can work on freezer supply.  
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  • I did both, went back to work after 8 weeks, and the consensus with most moms I've talked to is: Pumping sucks. Literally. Bf is much more convenient, no bottles or parts to clean, sitting by yourself for at least 20 minutes, etc. My LO has been on a nursing strike for over two weeks, and I'm praying it will end soon because I'm attached to my pump about 6-7 Times a day now. I have a huge respect for moms who EP, it is a lot of work! If you can have a balance of both nursing when you're around your LO and pumping at work, that is the best option imo. But sometimes LO has latching issues or whatever, so you may be forced to EP. But if LO has a good latch and you can nurse, I think you'll prefer nursing. Plus you will love the bonding time with LO. I actually had a hard time at first letting anyone else feed her lol. Good luck!

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  • You can always choose to EP later, but it's really really difficult to teach a baby to latch down the road. For that reason, I would encourage you to breastfeed in the beginning if possible. It's also much less stressful to breastfeed than to pump in the early weeks - you have to pump every 2-3 hours around the clock PLUS actually feed and care for your newborn. It adds 4-6 hours of work per day to a really busy time.

    Returning to work at 6 weeks is already a challenge - establishing your supply at the breast will help with that. Once you're pumping at work, you can decide if you'd rather pump more or breastfeed when together. 

  • I EP because DS2 has some anatomical things with his mouth that, according to his pedi and 2 LCs, weren't "bad" enough to fix, but still caused me pain. I tried my best to BF until DS2 was 5 weeks old, but all that did was stress me out so EPing became the best choice for us.

    To echo what PP said, with EPing you have to pump every couple of hours in the beginning...around the clock...to help establish your supply. It wasn't until DS2 was about 6 months old that I dropped pumping sessions from 8/day to 6/day, and then when he hit 8 months I dropped to 4/day. I also still wake up once a night to pump, but that's a personal preference if mine; it's nice and quiet at 3am when I pump, whereas its not so quiet and peaceful during the rest of my day with 2 crazy little boys. Lol.

    EPing is a lot of work, and in my opinion, should be your last resort. I personally feel like you should give BFing a try before you resort to EPing.

    Best of luck!!
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  • My daughter was in the NICU for two weeks so I was an EPer from day one. After she was strong enough to BF and we had her home , I chose to continue to EP. At the time we were still so concerned about her weight and I wanted to make sure she was getting enough to eat ( I know this is theoretically not a valid concern but it made me feel better to know for sure).

    Fast forward 3.5 months....pumping sucks...you spend A LOT of your time pumping/ feeding your baby/washing bottles. Even more so once you go back to work and have fewer hours a day to spend with your LO.   I still almost EP. My DD will switch back and forth but seems to BF to get a snack and will just fall asleep and want to eat an hour later.  For that reason and my sanity, I continue to pump and feed her bottles of expressed milk. My advice either way is to get a good quality pump, it can REALLY make things better for you.

    You have to do what is best for your family and if you choose to EP, know that your baby is still getting what it needs from you.

  • I am about to become a FTM and have been thinking about what method I want to use to deliver breast milk to our son.  The idea of pumping appeals to me for several reasons:  I need to return to work sporadically starting at 6 weeks, I want my husband to be able to be involved in the feeding process, I like the idea of being able to track/measure just how much our little guy eats at each feeding.

    My big question has to do with whether or not I want to breastfeed AND pump, or try to exclusively pump.  For ladies who have made this decision in the past:

    - What method did you settle on?  What influenced this decision?

    I have been successful with pumping when away from my LO and BFing when we are together. 

    In the early days we had some BFing issues (jaundice, etc) that led to almost EPing for the first two weeks. I am very glad for all the women who encouraged me to keep trying to make BFing work, because Bfing directly is so much easier than EPing once LO is older than a month or so.  Pumping/bottle feeding was faster for us until 4 weeks (I would bottle feed LO while I pumped, so we could be back to bed in 30min) so I did this at night and only bF during the day from weeks 2-4 (during the day from weeks 2-3 we were transitioning back to the breast and pumped for some feedings). 

    - If you EP, did you start pumping from day one, or were there still a few days/weeks of nursing?

    I started pumping on day 2 because my LO refused a tube supplement at my breast and needed a bottle b/c of her jaundice.

    - What are the challenges to using both methods, or to EPing?

    Personally, I dislike pumping -- I did it for 9 months at work, but it was still far nicer to just BF my LO.  Another thing that makes BFing easier is that while it is really difficult to pump in public and you'd have to plan your outings around pumping every 2-3 hours (maybe every 4 when LO is older), BFing in public is not hard once you get used to it. You also don't have to worry about bottle temperature etc...and you can't forget your boobs at home :-) (pump parts, though, yes, forgetting those can happen!).  EPing involves a lot of bottle washing, etc. 

    In your shoes, I would try to BF with occasional pumping.bottle feeding.  For DH to help, you could give one bottle a day - that's what we did until I went back to work. I'd pump in the morning and evening, and then DH gave the first night bottle so I could sleep 4-5 hours in a row.

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  • I Ep due to ds having a high palate and poor oral tone.  I hate it.  I bf my first two and only pumped while at work.  That was SO much better.

     for the first 12 weeks, if ep'ing, it is very important to pump a least 8 times a day.  Some women can pump to empty in 20 minutes. It takes me 30-60 minutes.  This means I am pumping for about 6 hours a day every day.  I then also have to feed ds and he is very slow with the bottle....so I spend about 4-6 hours a day feeding him.

    Around 12 weeks, milk production becomes established and switches from hormone driven to supply and demand, so it is usually safe at that point to drop one pump.  But you are still pumping 7 times a day and it may take longer to empty after dropping that pump.  

    With my first two, the first 3 weeks of nursing were rough, but once we got the hang  of it they would nurse and be done in 20 minutes...so it was much less time consuming and far more enjoyable- I prefer to be tied to a baby all day than a pump. 

    Mommy to L (6), J (4) and S (March 2013)

  • SkyBeeSkyBee
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    As of now I am doing both, (more breastfeeding than pumping)but I did EP for a few weeks. Eping is WAY harder than it sounds. I was spending 4.5 hours pumping and then another 4.5 hours feeding the expressed milk to my twins every single day. That is 9 hours every 24 just used to feed babies.....not including the time spent with my toddler. When I breastfeed I am holding the babies, emptying my breasts, and feeding them all at the same time......saves me all that time that I can now spend with my kids. I wouldn't suggest EPing to anyone unless it is absolutely necessary. 
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  • image tokenhoser:
    You can always choose to EP later, but it's really really difficult to teach a baby to latch down the road. For that reason, I would encourage you to breastfeed in the beginning if possible. It's also much less stressful to breastfeed than to pump in the early weeks you have to pump every 23 hours around the clock PLUS actually feed and care for your newborn. It adds 46 hours of work per day to a really busy time.Returning to work at 6 weeks is already a challenge establishing your supply at the breast will help with that. Once you're pumping at work, you can decide if you'd rather pump more or breastfeed when together.nbsp;


    This.
  • image andertrr:
    image tokenhoser:
    You can always choose to EP later, but it's really really difficult to teach a baby to latch down the road. For that reason, I would encourage you to breastfeed in the beginning if possible. It's also much less stressful to breastfeed than to pump in the early weeks you have to pump every 2-3 hours around the clock PLUS actually feed and care for your newborn. It adds 46 hours of work per day to a really busy time.Returning to work at 6 weeks is already a challenge establishing your supply at the breast will help with that. Once you're pumping at work, you can decide if you'd rather pump more or breastfeed when together.nbsp;
    This.

     I agree with this too!

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  • I would suggest trying to BF in the beginning and then go from there, I believe that your milk and supply will be better off when stimulated by the baby rather than a pump. 

    From experience, we had an extremely difficult time nursing in the beginning, I will spare you the details, but I met with a few IBCLC's and we couldn't fix her latch, I still nursed off and on for 4 months.

     I began pumping at 2 weeks and my days revolved around it, I have been EPing pretty much since then with a nursing session once or twice a day until she was four months and we quit nursing all together.

    She is 6 months now and I still pump 5 times a day and my days revolve around my pumping schedule if I go somewhere I need to make sure I have my pump and usually end up pumping in the car (not so fun) or stay home during my pumping times. I am still going and would like to continue until her 1st birthday but it is difficult.

    EPing is possible but if I had a choice I would rather BF. Either way, know that you are doing a good thing for your baby. 

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  • image Jenner37:

    I would suggest trying to BF in the beginning and then go from there, I believe that your milk and supply will be better off when stimulated by the baby rather than a pump. 

    From experience, we had an extremely difficult time nursing in the beginning, I will spare you the details, but I met with a few IBCLC's and we couldn't fix her latch, I still nursed off and on for 4 months.

     I began pumping at 2 weeks and my days revolved around it, I have been EPing pretty much since then with a nursing session once or twice a day until she was four months and we quit nursing all together.

    She is 6 months now and I still pump 5 times a day and my days revolve around my pumping schedule if I go somewhere I need to make sure I have my pump and usually end up pumping in the car (not so fun) or stay home during my pumping times. I am still going and would like to continue until her 1st birthday but it is difficult.

    EPing is possible but if I had a choice I would rather BF. Either way, know that you are doing a good thing for your baby. 

     Exactly, I hate how my life revolves around my pumping schedule.  Boobs are so much more portable. 

    Mommy to L (6), J (4) and S (March 2013)

  • Thank you everyone so much for all of your insights and advice!  It certainly is helpful to hear about everyone's experiences, I appreciate all of your input.
    Me: 30 DH: 29
    Expecting our first child!

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  • I EP because my girl doesn't transfer milk when nursing.  I wanted so badly to EBF but that's just not the path we ended up on.  I did EBF her the first 10 days, but once she'd lost 15% of her birthweight, I switched to primarily pumping + supplementing.  If my girl would nurse well it would make my life SO SO SO much easier.  As it is now, I either have to cart my pump EVERYWHERE (not just work) or stay home on my days off.  DD does still nurse some, but for comfort/bonding rather than for food.  If I had anyway to get my girl breast milk without EPing, I would do it!  EPing is a total PITA but I'm planning to do it as long as I can (ultimate goal of 1 yr).
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