Expressing breast milk can help you continue breastfeeding. Read on the discover top 10 reasons for why mums choose to express breast milk.
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Top 10 Reasons for Expressing Breast Milk
1. Premature Baby
Babies who are born before 37 weeks usually have a very poor ‘suck’ reflex. This makes it difficult for them to feed directly from the breast. Expressing breast milk will help baby to receive the first milk which is full of antibodies and essential for protecting a preemies fragile immune system.
Most hospitals will provide use of a powerful ‘hospital’ grade breast pump, especially if your baby is premature, as breast milk is so beneficial to their progress.
2. Allow Breasts to Heal
You may run into problems when directly breastfeeding through poor attachment or positioning. Unfortunately this can quickly led to sore nipples or cases of mastitis. The pain can make you too uptight to want to put baby to the breast and a screaming baby is too upset to feed properly. By using a breast pump the milk can be expressed, allowing the nipple to heal and give a hungry baby a full tummy.
If you are experiencing this discuss positioning and attachment with your midwife, breastfeeding counsellor or health visitor when you feel ready to try again. You may also want to ask them to assess baby for tongue tie in baby as this may not have been picked up in the first few days.
3. Returning to Work
Most mums in the UK return to work on average 6-9 months after birth. Those who are breastfeeding have the dilemma of whether to switch to formula milk or to continue breastfeeding. If you choose to continue breastfeeding, a breast pump is essential to allow your baby to continue regular feeds whilst you work. It is law in the UK for a workplace to provide women a break time to express milk during working hours. Remember to contact the Human Resources department at work and ask what the breastfeeding policy is before returning.
4. Let Others Feed Baby
Feeding a baby is a very special bonding experience. If your family members are more familiar with formula feeding, then it may be hard for them to deal with the fact that you are the only person that can feed baby directly. If you feel this will be a cause of tension, expressing milk is a short term solution that can keep both mum and family happy. It’s also great if you want to have a rest or some time to yourself for a few hours.
5. Feeding Problems
Some baby’s are unable to feed directly from the breast due to mouth conditions such as a tongue tie or a cleft lip/palette. This makes it hard for baby to attach correct and apply enough pressure to express milk themselves. Midwives and Health Visitors are trained in detecting these conditions and will inform you that expressing milk is a great alternative if you were intending to breastfeed.
6. Increase Milk Supply
The amount of milk produced in the breast works on a ‘supply and demand’ system. This means the more your baby feeds to more milk to make to meet the ‘demand’. If problems have occurred and prevented baby from feeding so often then your milk supply may begin to decrease as your body thinks baby doesn’t need so much. You can use a breast pump to help increase your supply by pumping ‘extra’ in-between feeding baby directly. Although this may mean you have to write off a few days of solely feeding and expressing, the effort will pay off in 2-3 days and your milk supply resorted.
7. Donating Breast Milk
If you have an abundance of breast milk, you may consider donating milk to a local breast milk bank. This milk is used for premature and sick babies to aide their recovery. Find out if you have a Breast Milk Bank close to you.
8. Feed in Public
Women should feel comfortable enough to breastfeed in public without feeling exposed or being ‘exhibitionist’. If you are still new to breastfeeding and want to slowly build up the confidence to directly feed in public try reading our top tips on how to tackle this. Expressing milk for baby means you can still give breast milk when out and about if your still not ready to brave it just yet.
9. Alcohol or Medication
Breast milk is created from a woman’s blood supply. Therefore whatever is in your blood will transfer into your breast milk. This includes alcohol and any medication which are taking. These will be transferred in small amounts it’s not work the risk of side effects. Expressed breast milk can be given to baby whilst your are on a night out. Expressing allows you to ‘pump and dump’ any milk that contains alcohol or medication until it’s cleared from your system. For more information check out our article on alcohol and breastfeeding.
10. Preference to use a bottle
Mother’s often choose to formula feed as they don’t like the sensation of a baby feeding directly from the breast. Some mums may be chronically shy, have phobias or have a serious history of abuse which prevents them from breastfeeding. Expressing milk through exclusive pumping is a great alternate so that baby can get all the benefits of breast milk.
Whatever your reason for expressing breast milk you will be able to find a breast pump to meet your needs. Check out our Mama Milk Guide to the Best Breast Pumps to find out what we think of the pumps available in the UK.