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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Pumping instead of breastfeeding

Dear Dr. Amy,

I am 5 1/2 months pregnant and have been looking into the benefits and hassles with breast feeding. I would like to avoid the complications that come with the baby not latching on properly by feeding by bottle. I am planning on using, by pumping, my breast milk like I would formula. I am aware that the mature milk isn't produced for a few days after the baby is born and colostrum is produced until then, but I would like your suggestion as to what to do during those few days. Should I pump the colostrum? Is there enough to pump? Will it be ok to feed the baby from the bottle instead of my breast? Does not wanting the baby feed from my breast (out of fear of pain) make me a bad mother already?

Thank you,
Gina

Dear Gina,

That plan very rarely works out. Pumping is much more difficult than breastfeeding. The pump is a poor approximation of the baby and it is difficult to build up an adequate milk supply. Pumping also takes longer and, if not done properly, can increase the risk of breast infections.

Nursing is not necessarily going to be painful. Some women and some babies take to it right away and never have a problem. There's no way to know, though, unless you try. There's no question that breastfeeding can be inconvenient, but the benefits to the baby are so great, and the actual amount of time you spend breastfeeding is so small, that the benefits far outweight the burdens.

Try breastfeeding for 3 weeks. Almost everyone who sticks with it for that long wants to continue. If you don't like it, you can always try the pump.

Sincerely,
Amy

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