Expressed milk – pumping vs breastfeeding

Expressed milk – pumping vs breastfeeding

There are multiple circumstances in which a mother decides to pump instead of breastfeeding directly, this means to express her milk either manually or mechanically and offer it to the baby in a bottle or other container.


When this option is considered, it can make it easier for us to know the hole process and some of the situations that can occur:


Is breastfeeding directly the same as giving expressed milk with a bottle?


We could say that offer expressed breast milk is similar to breastfeeding, but it is not exactly the same because breastfeeding is something more than offering breast milk to the baby, the breast as a “container” also brings advantages such as immediacy, temperature, body heat, baby’s control of hunger and satiety, among others.


That’s why, when we offer pumped milk to our baby, we can do things to try to make it look even more like direct breastfeeding.


To do this, we’ll look at the following:


  • Select the softer nipple: there are no nipples similar to the breast, so we should look for the softest possible nipple to avoid the impact of the nipple on the oral structures of the baby.
  • Respect the baby’s satiety: in the same way, using the Kassing method we can guarantee that the baby will take the milk on demand in the quantity he wants. This is very important in order to avoid overfeeding the baby.
  • Offer the bottle close to our body: the breast is given from proximity, from body to body, and is something to “imitate” when we give the bottle. The closer the baby is to our body, the better.
  • Swapping the baby on the side: just as we offer one breast per feeding,we offer the bottle alternating right/left to guarantee the same development of the baby’s cerebral laterality.
  • Give the baby fresh milk whenever possible: breast milk is a live liquid and some of these cells are affected by freezing and thawing. Therefore, if we can offer some fresh milk we guarantee that the baby will receive the maximum of these nutrients.


How long can I keep giving my baby expressed milk?

It is not easy to determine how long you will be able to maintain indirect lactation. We have two major handicaps:

  • Maintenance of milk production: the gland receives stimulation from the breast pump quite different from the direct suckling of the baby and it is usually common to maintain milk production for many months becomes really hard. The first difficulties appear with the three months crisis, where the production is usually adjusted a lot and it is probable that you begin to have difficulties to express your milk so easily.
  • Fatigue: without any doubt, the exhaustion in these processes is an extra, since within the attention and care of the baby it is necessary to add extra time to express, conserve and manipulate the milk. It is likely that at some point in the process of indirect breastfeeding you will feel that it is time to stop.


What do I need?

There are different things you may need when considering delayed breastfeeding:

  • Support: You certainly need a lot of support and understanding from everyone around you. Many times mothers receive unfortunate comments about not needing to express their milk. Having an environment that embraces and understands this desire is important in maintaining indirect breastfeeding.
  • Information: The conservation and handling of breast milk is another learning process in this type of lactation.
  • Double electric breast pump: Whenever an electric breast pump is available, it will be more positive both in terms of saving pumping time and in terms of maintaining milk production.
  • Pumping top: having a bra that allows you to place both breast pump funnels at the same time and have your hands free is a real success. You can buy one or customize one, whichever you prefer.


My baby eats more than I can get!

It is something that can happen, that the amount of milk you get is not enough to maintain exclusive breastfeeding.

And it is that the stimulation that the breast pump is less effective than the suckling of the baby and that can produce that from a certain moment, the production of milk decay significantly and it is necessary to consider what to do.


Some ideas, if you want to continue trying to breastfeed exclusively are:

  • Improve your breast pump: having a dual electric breast pump usually makes it easier to get more milk in less time.
  • Create routines: Short, frequent pumpings throughout the day and night (imitating a baby’s feeding cycle) make it easier to increase and maintain production.
  • Using a different pumping technique: increasing the number of times a day you pump or using a different pumping technique can help you increase your milk production. We recommend you to review this post on hands on-pumping.


I have been recommended to use pharmacological galactogogos, what do I do?

Pharmacological galactogogos have become popular in recent years and it is easy to recommend them to mothers who are doing indirect lactation, as it can be logically more complicated to maintain milk production.

If you want to take any of these products, we recommend you to talk to your doctor to assess whether there is no risk to you and paute the medication in the most appropriate way.


On the other hand, there are herbaceous galactogogs, culturally very widespread in their use and normalization in the period of lactation. There is little evidence of their effectiveness, and yet understanding that many mothers want to try. We always recommend you to check ingredient by ingredient on the website, as some may be dangerous for the baby and should be avoided during lactation.


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