It is commonly recognized that breast milk is the best possible nutrition for an infant and more and more women are choosing to breastfeed their babies. But what happens if breastfeeding is not possible? Many people would suggest that the only alternative is to bottle feed formula. But, due to the improvement in breast pumps over the past decade or so, an increasing number of women are making the decision to exclusively pump breast milk for their babies.
Exclusively pumping, or exclusively expressing, is exactly as the term suggests. A woman exclusively uses a breast pump to induce and maintain lactation as opposed to breastfeeding. Some women begin to exclusively pump after initially starting to breastfeed, however, due to various problems or concerns switch to exclusively pumping.
The reasons for exclusively pumping are extremely varied: latching difficulties, illness of the mother or baby, prematurity, separation, and, for some women, the decision to exclusively pump is made prior to the birth of their babies. The reasons women make the choice to exclusively pump prior to delivery are also very diverse.
There is a wide range of normal when it comes to exclusively pumping. The range of experience can extend from constantly struggling to maintain a supply that is sufficient for the needs of your baby to producing far in excess of what your baby requires on a daily basis. Most women can at least meet the needs of their babies and can do so for several months. Many women exclusively pump for up to twelve months or even longer.
One of the most difficult aspects of exclusively pumping is maintaining a frequent pumping schedule. However, most women are able to drop pumping sessions and, by adding time to their remaining sessions, continue to produce similar volumes of milk. Many women are able to eventually pump as little as four times a day, and some as few as two or three, without losing significant volume.
Regardless of the reason a woman comes to exclusively pump, all women who choose to fed their babies by this method have one important thing in common: a strong belief that breast milk is the best possible nutrition for their baby and a willingness to provide breast milk by any means possible.
Stephanie Casemore is the author of Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk: A Guide to Providing Expressed Breast Milk for Your Baby. She exclusively pumped for one year for her son who was born nine weeks premature. Casemore also maintains her website, ExclusivelyPumping.com, which is a resource site dedicated solely to the needs of women who are exclusively expressing breast milk. She is working to educate women on the option of exclusively pumping to ensure women know there is an alternative to formula feeding when breastfeeding is not possible or does not work out.