There are three ways in which you can feed your baby i.e. breastfeeding, pumping and bottle feeding, and formula feeding. A mother may have to face the situation which may prevent her from nursing e.g. Baby isn’t latching properly, mastitis or personal choice, whatever the reason may be, the only solution mom would assume is to give infant formula.
There is another choice though. If a mother can’t nurse but still wants a baby to get all the benefits of breast milk, then she can do so by exclusively pumping breast milk. While everyone agrees that the benefits of nursing directly from the breast cannot be replaced, everyone must also agree that the breast milk itself is irreplaceable. Whenever a mother faces a choice of whether to breastfeed or not, it should be the former regardless of the method in which it is given.
You should never feel guilty for not breastfeeding in the traditional way and resorting to pumping. Some mothers also pump exclusively because of their work situation. You can also supplement with formula if that’s what you find convenient for yourself, but pediatricians prefer and suggest breast milk over formula. Every method has its own pros and cons whether it’s nursing or pumping read carefully and then decide which method is most feasible for you.
Pros of Exclusive Breastfeeding:
- It offers many health and cognitive benefits and protects the baby and the mother from several long-term illnesses.
- Feeding directly from the breast sends the mother’s brain messages about what the baby needs through its saliva and thus the milk gets customized according to their needs. It also has specific components if the baby is premature and it adapts according to the infant’s age.
- Breastfeeding is free of charge as compared to pumping and formula. In exclusive pumping, you need to purchase a good breast pump while in formula feeding you need to purchase a quality baby formula, bottles, and sterilizer.
- It is also very convenient to breastfeed a baby because it does not require any preparation. You can feed your baby anywhere as long as you have some privacy without the need to take baby bottles or clean water with you. This is where the nursing cover is useful. It covers your breast and the baby, given you some privacy.
- It’s a great way to soothe and comfort a baby. According to a study, it can also make them forget the pain of vaccination sometimes.
Cons of Exclusive Breastfeeding:
- You don’t have any control over the timing as the breastfed babies are fed on demand, not on any schedule.
- The chances of getting sore, cracked or infected nipple increase when you’re exclusively nursing.
- You are the only one who can feed the baby and as infants feed often, this may leave you exhausted and sleep-deprived.
- You will have to take the baby wherever you go if you plan to be out for quite a long time.
Pros of Exclusive Pumping:
- You can keep track of how much milk you are producing and see the trend over time. This can help you take action more quickly in case your supply diminishes. Whereas nursing moms have to play a guessing game whether the decreased supply is the reason the baby has become fussy or not.
- No more worries about baby biting your breast while feeding.
- It is easier to wean to formula if the baby is used to feeding on the bottle as compared to the breast.
- When you are exclusively breastfeeding, you’re the only one who can feed the baby. Whereas, if your freezer is filled with pumped breast milk then you can let your partner do the nighttime feeds sometime.
- Exclusive pumping gives you the liberty to be away from your child for some time without having to be worried about feeding them. Just leave a bottle with grandparents or babysitter and enjoy some time with your friends or go on a date with your partner.
Cons of Exclusive Pumping
- Exclusive pumping can get challenging. To establish your milk supply you must pump 8-12 times in a day in the beginning. This will hurt your breast and you will feel like you are glued to the pumping equipment.
- It is tasking to wash and then sterilize all the bottles and pumping parts. Whereas, in formula feeding, you only need to sterilize the feeding bottles and in breastfeeding you don’t have to do any preparation beforehand.
- It can get difficult to pump and look after the baby at the same time because you won’t have enough time for yourself.
- Exclusive pumping isn’t as popular as formula or breastfeeding is, therefore people may ask a lot of questions which can get annoying sometimes. Also, you may feel you are the only one who is exclusively pumping in your circle which can sometimes make you feel lonely.
- It is less convenient as it requires you to take the pumping equipment with you if you have to travel somewhere for a few days. It is also expensive because you need to buy pumping equipment and storage containers for the milk.
- Storing it can take up a lot of space in your freezer especially when you have a large supply. Also, you need to keep track of which milk to use first as even when frozen; it has an expiry date.
Exclusive Pumping vs. Breastfeeding: The Winner
Both nursing directly and giving baby pumped milk provide lots of health benefits. Both require a considerable amount of commitment from mothers and both can pose difficulties and challenges for the mother.
A lot of mothers put great effort to keep up with their baby when they have to pump. The reason being, our body responds differently to pumping than it does to nursing. If we compare the two, then nursing is healthier as it depletes no nutrients from the milk. Whereas, in pumping, the constant freezing, thawing and then reheating can take away some precious vitamins and minerals.
In the end, there is no right or wrong, as long as the baby is fed happy, and healthy. No matter what you end up choosing, your baby will still receive many benefits of that golden milk of yours,