10 Reasons Not to Pump Too Soon
I love gadgets. I love my KitchenAid, my crockpots, my immersion blender, and my pressure cooker. Gadgets are fun, save time, and make tasks easier.
For moms interested in breastfeeding, the ultimate gadget is the pump. Despite what the registries say, just because you’re breastfeeding, doesn’t mean you need a pump, and even if you need to pump, you don’t have to start pumping early on. Pumping too soon can actually cause more problems than it solves.
1. Pumping too soon can reduce your supply.
Breastfeeding is a supply and demand process.
Demand is met by emptying breasts. Pumps in general are not as efficient as babies at emptying the breast, so that when too much milk remains, it signals the body to reduce your supply.
2. It sets up an unsustainable routine.
Having to go back to work soon, puts a lot of pressure to starts pumping right away, but when you’re still recovering from childbirth, the pressure of squeezing in pumping sessions can be overwhelming. To maintain a good supply, the best practice is always to offer the breast to the baby before you pump, so that means feeding the baby and setting up, pumping, cleaning the pump, storing, labeling, and freezing the milk you pump, ALL.DAY.LONG. Pumping quickly becomes exhausting.
3. It presents a false picture of supply.
If the baby is with you all day and if you’re offering the breast before you pump, you’re not likely to pump out much milk. Your supply is going to the baby. After pumping for 15 minutes and barely collecting an ounce, it can seem like you must have not any milk. But it’s completely normal because anything you can pump at that point is extra, and you’re not likely to get much until you’re separated from your baby.
4. It creates more dishes.
Cleaning the pump pieces and the bottles adds to the pile of dishes to wash each day. You can save time by refrigerating some of your pump pieces in between sessions to cut down on some of the washing though. Wish I had known this and saved hours washing parts in the breakroom over 18 months.
5. It can lead to oversupply and mastitis.
Oversupply can sound like fun, but it’s not. Pumping too soon can make your body think you need more milk, so it makes even more milk. Engorged breasts hurt, and infections with fever hurt worse. Other worries include clogged ducts and blebs. Keeping up with enough pumping to keep engorgement away can become time consuming.
6. Pumps can be expensive.
The best pumps are double electric closed system hospital grade and can run $50/month rental or well over a $1,000 to purchase. Next are the closed system regular double electric. Then there are the open system pumps that many women get. These are much less effective than hospital grade and still cost hundreds of dollars. When I was working outside of the home, I got my money’s worth out of my pump, but with baby number 2, I’ve not needed more than an occasional single manual hand pump that cost $15.
7. It can disrupt rest.
Rest is an often overlooked component to successful breastfeeding. Stressed, exhausted bodies are not at their maximum function. Adding pumping and its cleaning and storage takes away important rest time that could be better served by a nap.
8. It can set up unreasonable expectations.
Grandma, daddy, aunties, all want to bond with the new baby, and for many people, that means feeding. If they know you’re pumping, that can encourage them to pressure you to let them feed the baby so you can rest. Only is it restful if you have to make up that feeding session by pumping more? Is it restful if your supply starts to dip due to inadequate emptying? Is it restful to have more dishes, to have to pump when you really just want to sleep? If it isn’t restful to you, you can avoid this type of help by avoiding pumping.
9.You have to store and keep up with all that milk.
After being pumped, that milk has to be prepped for use whether that be going immediately to bottles or into labeled bags for freezing. Most freezer space is limited as is the freshness of milk.
10. Some women just don’t respond well to pumping.
I remember visiting a mom whose chubby little baby was thriving on breastmilk, but when she tried to pump, she was barely getting an ounce. She knew the milk was there, but it wasn’t coming out. We checked to be sure her pump was set up correctly, it was. I showed her hands on pumping, which doubled the amount she was able to get out, but it was not enough milk for her to have to go back to work. Before she gave up on pumping, she decided to try another pump and her body responded fine to that one. Both pumps she had cost hundreds of dollars and were reputable brands. Different bodies respond differently to not only to pumping but also to individual pumps. Some women may never find a pump their body likes.
It’s best practice to let the baby directly nurse as much as possible. Pumping is great when:
- you need to establish and maintain a supply when the baby is not.
- you’ve gone back to work and someone else needs to feed the baby. Usually a couple of weeks before work is a good time to start pumping.
- you’re planning for future separation such as a trip or night out.
Because I worked full time away from home with my first baby, my pump and I became very close. I was able to pump enough to meet my baby’s needs and donate surplus to a milk bank. Even though pumping was easy and productive for me, I’ve been glad to devote that time instead to sleep.