June 13th, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Stephanie • PumpingResources

Guest Post: Supporting Exclusively Pumping Moms


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Since few people have experience with exclusively pumping breast milk, it is often difficult for a woman who is exclusively pumping to find understanding and sometimes even acceptance.  Women who breastfed without difficulty often do not understand how difficult and emotionally trying it can be when breastfeeding problems are encountered and some may believe a woman who is exclusively pumping did not try hard enough or gave up too early.   Women who chose to formula feed often do not understand why a woman who exclusively pumps would not choose to feed formula if breastfeeding is difficult or not possible.woman pumping at work with her PumpEase!

The reality for most women who end up exclusively pumping in order to provide their babies with breast milk is that they experienced difficulty attempting to breastfeed and reached a point where they needed to make a change in the way they fed their babies.  Yet, given their strong belief that breast milk is the best food for infants, they dedicated themselves to providing expressed breast milk.  Sometimes, there has been a lack of support or access to qualified lactation consultants and this has made a difficult situation even more challenging.  But often, women who end up exclusively pumping have consulted and worked with lactation consultants.  However, the stress and challenge of a situation often compounds until a change must be made in order to remove the pressure from an increasingly stressful experience.  The breaking point for every woman is different, and the challenges are different for every woman.

The option of exclusively pumping as an alternative to formula feeding is one that is usually not discussed in prenatal classes or pregnancy magazines; indeed it is an option that is largely unknown and greatly misunderstood.  Yet even though many women make the choice to exclusively pump when breastfeeding has not worked out, women who are exclusively pumping often feel alone and isolated.  Feeding expressed breast milk by bottle falls between the two most commonly known methods of feeding an infant -breastfeeding and bottle feeding formula- and therefore leaves mothers who are exclusively pumping between the two groups without a clear source of support or information.

Ways to Support Exclusively Pumping Mothers

  • Educate, educate, educate! Women need to be educated about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding needs to become common place, expected, and supported. New mothers need to know others who are breastfeeding or who have breastfed and have the opportunity to watch babies breastfeeding. The best support is to provide the assistance and education necessary to remove the need to exclusively pump for as many women as possible. The vast majority of women who exclusively pump would breastfeed in a heartbeat if it were possible for them.

It is important to let women know that breastfeeding can require work and dedication.  While it is normal and natural, it is a learned skill for both mother and baby.  All too often, breastfeeding is given cursory attention or the difficulties that can occur are never mentioned to new or expectant mothers.  As a result, if a new mother, already tired and likely overwhelmed from having a newborn to care for, faces difficulties trying to establish breastfeeding, she may simply give up under the mistaken belief that breastfeeding is normal and natural and should therefore also be easy, and that somehow, she has failed or isn't capable of breastfeeding.  This education and support needs to be given in both the prenatal and postpartum periods.

Of course there are situations where breastfeeding is just not possible or complications arise which make breastfeeding difficult.  In these situations, it is vital that women who must exclusively pump be given accurate information and unwavering support.

  • Give credibility to exclusively pumping as an alternative to formula. Share the option of exclusively pumping breast milk with women as an alternative to formula prior to the birth of their baby. Some may be concerned that talking about exclusively pumping as an alternative method to provide breast milk may cause some women to choose it as an alternative to breastfeeding or quickly give up trying to establish breastfeeding if they are having difficulties. This concern is understandable, but with proper education and an honest discussion of the requirements to initiate and maintain lactation with a breast pump very few women will choose to express breast milk instead of breastfeed when breastfeeding is possible. And indeed, without the option presented to women before they experience difficulties, there is the very real risk that new mothers will turn to formula when they experience troubles, diminishing their milk supply, and making it all that more difficult to breastfeed. When presenting the idea of exclusively pumping, it is important that it be discussed as an alternative to formula feeding and not an alternative to breastfeeding. There is absolutely no equal to breastfeeding, but there are far better alternatives to feeding formula.
  • Acknowledge the tremendous emotional impact breastfeeding can have on a woman, and even more so, the emotional impact of not breastfeeding. It is often difficult to come to terms with the reality of your experience compared to the expectations you had for it. Many new mothers expect to breastfeed, yet we know that breastfeeding is not always easy and does not always work out as planned. It is important to recognize the emotional toll this lost expectation can have. Comments such as "You just need to keep trying a little longer", while sometimes true, do not take into account the tremendous emotional load a new mother may be straining under. Simply acknowledging the loss, grief, and disappointment a woman feels can be important. A simple question such as, "How can I help you?" can mean a lot. Validating her feelings and encouraging her abilities are also extremely important. Comments such as "I understand why this is so upsetting for you" and "You are a good mother" can provide the boost that is needed to continue persevering.

Often prior to making the decision to exclusively pump, women are in an unending cycle of breastfeeding, bottle feeding to supplement their baby's needs, and then expressing their milk with a breast pump.  This cycle is exhausting and almost impossible to continue for an indefinite period of time- especially without support.  Add onto this cycle the stress of having a premature baby or ill infant, or other complicating factors, and a new mother can easily and quickly become overwhelmed.  Be prepared to offer not only a listening ear but to also offer concrete support to assist in all other aspects of her life.  Many women who end up exclusively pumping turn to it as a means of self-preservation after becoming overwhelmed with the cycle of breastfeeding, bottle feeding, and pumping.  Sometimes the emotional price of continually trying to breastfeed and not having the situation improve is enormous and overwhelming; sometimes a woman needs to move on.  Support her decision.  Recognize it as her decision.  Acknowledge the fact that her baby is still receiving breast milk.  Provide information and support if breastfeeding is still desired.  Again, acknowledgement and support can go a long way.

  • Help exclusively pumping women connect with others for support and information. There are numerous internet discussion boards and mailing lists dedicated to exclusively pumping moms and many others available for women who are generally expressing breast milk whether it be exclusively or while they are at work. The benefits of sharing with others who are going through the same experience as you, and feeling the same emotions as you, are enormous. Women who are exclusively pumping often think that they have invented the idea and feel as though they are the only woman in the world doing it, but this is far from the truth.
  • Family and friends must provide support and encouragement. The importance of breastfeeding and breast milk must be understood by everyone supporting a new mother. The time requirements and schedule of a woman who is exclusively pumping is extremely challenging and will not only affect the mother, but will affect everyone in the family. Help with the new baby, older children, and household work is often necessary in order for the mother to be able to dedicate the necessary time to milk expression. In addition to practical support, it is also very important that family and friends support the efforts of the woman to provide breast milk for her baby. Questioning the importance of breast milk, suggesting the baby be fed formula or asking why she doesn't "just breastfeed" undermines a mother's efforts, does not acknowledge her struggles, and gives her yet another obstacle to overcome.

There is no doubt that the option of exclusively pumping can be a difficult path to choose, but the value and benefits of breast milk are undeniable, and, when breastfeeding is not possible, exclusively pumping breast milk, as the World Health Organization recommends, should be seen as the next viable option for feeding a baby.  This alternative can be made much more viable for a new mother with support, understanding, knowledge, and acknowledgement from those who surround her.

Stephanie Casemore is the author of Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk: a Guide to Providing Expressed Breast Milk for your Baby.  For more information on exclusively pumping or to purchase Stephanie's book, visit www.ExclusivelyPumping.com


May 27th, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • PumpingResources

Why Does My Expressed Breastmilk Smell Bad?


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I recently came across this fantastic resource on the Lansinoh website and wanted to share it with you!

"In very rare cases, some mothers who have meticulously expressed and frozen their milk for later use have discovered to their dismay that all their frozen milk has turned rancid.  This happens when a mother produces milk that is high in lipase, the enzyme that breaks down fat in the milk. Depending upon the level of lipase in her milk, some mothers notice this rancid smell after their milk has cooled in the refrigerator; others, notice it only after the milk has been frozen for a while.  Thankfully this doesn’t happen often, and this can be prevented. 
a freezer full of breastmilk
It is suggested that every mother who is planning to freeze her milk should freeze some test batches of milk and thaw it out after a week or so to be sure it has not become rancid.  If the mother finds that after freezing and thawing her milk that it has a rancid smell, she can prevent this from occurring in the future by heating her expressed milk to a scald right after collecting it and then quickly cooling and freezing it.  Scalding inactivates the lipase.  Once the milk has acquired the rancid smell, however, treating the milk will not help.  It is not known whether or not this milk is safe for the baby however, most babies refuse it because of the taste."

You can find more information on this subject on the KellyMom website.  She states that the milk is in fact NOT harmful to your baby, but the stronger the taste, the more likely that he or she will refuse it.

Have you ever found that your breastmilk "turned" after refrigerating or freezing?  If so, did you throw it out or did your baby drink it anyways?  I never encountered this personally, however I would love to hear your stories!  Please drop me a comment below.

{"Feeling More Secure with My Breastmilk Stash!" by Diana Schnuth is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0}

May 6th, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Stephanie • Breast is BestPumpingResources

Guest Post: Why Women Exclusively Pump


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Exclusively Pumping website

Exclusively pumping breast milk is best thought of as an alternative to formula feeding.  While there are some women who decide to exclusively pump even before their babies are born, they are by far the minority.  Instead, most women who exclusively pump fully intended to breastfeed and believe strongly in the benefit and value of breast milk.  When confronted with difficulties or situations that make breastfeeding difficult or impossible, these women turn to the use of a breast pump to ensure their babies receive breast milk.

The reasons women exclusively pump are extremely varied: the premature birth of a baby; the illness of the baby or the mother; problems with breastfeeding including such things as a poor latch, thrush, cleft palate, poor weight gain, a lack of milk (either real or perceived), and the early introduction of a bottle leading to nipple preference; and the separation of mother and baby including women who must return to work soon after the birth of their babies.  It is difficult to briefly discuss the many reasons women exclusively pump, but there do tend to be some similarities in most women's experiences.

Self-preservation is an often mentioned factor in the decision to exclusively pump.  New mothers are overwhelmed with emotions.  Hearing your baby scream every time you try to nurse, enduring extreme pain when nursing, or having a baby who is unable to get enough milk to satisfy her can add to an already tumultuous period.  Also, for women who are breastfeeding, bottle feeding to top up the baby's intake, and then pumping to maintain or increase supply while the baby learns to breastfeed or the mother is able to resolve difficulties she is experiencing, the cycle becomes overwhelming and, even with a strong support network, can make it extremely difficult to continue for very long.

Often a mother is not able to truly focus on mothering and enjoying her new baby, and instead, is solely focused on providing nourishment.  Life becomes consumed with feeding the baby, which can, in and of itself, add additional stress to the situation making breastfeeding all that more challenging.  The decision to exclusively pump can, for some women, bring back a balance in their lives and in their household and enable them to refocus on their babies while continuing to feed their babies breast milk.

The decision to exclusively pump is not made lightly.  The vast majority of women who decide to exclusively pump do work with lactation consultants before making their decision.  And although pumping and bottle feeding becomes the primary method of feeding, many women also continue to work on breastfeeding and solving problems that were making it difficult to breastfeed.

Yet, even though the hope of exclusive breastfeeding may still remain when a woman starts to pump, many women do get to a point where they no longer attempt to breastfeed.  Many struggle with the emotions they feel as a result of not breastfeeding and not having the breastfeeding relationship they thought they would have with their baby.  For many, the strong emotions felt when they do not see success breastfeeding are too difficult to continue reliving over and over again.  The disappointment and frustration often prove to be difficult to cope with on a continuing basis and as a result the decision to exclusively pump is made.  Working with a lactation consultant during these first few weeks of pumping is extremely important if a transition to exclusive breastfeeding is desired and an important time for lactation consultants to maintain close contact with women in order to assist them to breastfeed successfully.

Perhaps the strongest motivating factor for exclusively pumping is the strong belief that breast milk is the best way of nourishing a baby.  Most women who exclusively pump do not feel that formula is an option; it is something they would prefer not to feed their babies.  Therefore, when they are confronted with difficulties breastfeeding (or the inability to breastfeed), and are unable to resolve the situation, they turn to what is often in their minds, the only option available to them.  If the women who exlusively pump did not have this as an option, their babies would most likely be switched to formula.

Exclusively pumping is a viable alternative to formula feeding.  Knowledge is key, however.  A breast pump will not initiate or maintain a milk supply in the same manner as a baby.  Women who have been able to exclusively pump long-term tend to follow a similar set of guidelines.  Support and accurate information are extremely important indicators of success for women who are exclusively pumping.Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk by Stephanie Casemore

While breastfeeding is undoubtedly the best method of feeding a baby, the fact remains that certain circumstances make breastfeeding difficult, and sometimes, women decide to bottle feed.  The reasons for this decision and the emotions that surround the decision are varied, but in all cases, exclusively pumping can ensure that it is breast milk in the bottle instead of formula and provide more babies with the best start possible in life.

Stephanie Casemore is the author of Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk: a Guide to Providing Expressed Breast Milk for your Baby.  For more information on exclusively pumping or to purchase Stephanie's book, visit www.ExclusivelyPumping.com 

January 21st, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Breast is BestPumpingResources

Breastfeeding Protects You and Your Baby Against Disease

I think today's moms and moms-to-be are aware that benefits exist for themselves and their babies when they choose to breastfeed, however, I stumbled across this post from The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog (one of my faves) which has an excerpt from a 2007 US Department of Health and Human Services meta-analysis with actual percentages - très cool (and I'm not even French!)

Breastfeeding reduces babies' risk of the following diseases as noted below:

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS):  36%
Type 1 Diabetes:  19-27%
Type 2 Diabetes:  39%
Leukemia (acute lymphocytic):  19%
Leukemia (acute myelogenous):  15%
Asthma:  27%
Gastrointestinal infections: 64%
Lower respiratory tract diseases:  72%
Atopic dermatitis:  42%
Acute otitis media:  50%

Breastfeeding reduces mothers' risk of the following diseases as noted below:

Type 2 Diabetes:  4-12%
Ovarian Cancer:  21%
Breast Cancer:  28%

OR if you want to see the flip side...it seems to have more impact:

Artificial feeding increases babies' risk of the following diseases as noted below:

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): 56%
Type 1 Diabetes: 23-37%
Type 2 Diabetes: 64%
Leukemia (acute lymphocytic) : 23%
Leukemia (acute myelogenous): 18%
Asthma: 37%
Gastrointestinal infections: 178%
Lower respiratory tract diseases: 257%
Atopic dermatitis: 72%
Acute otitis media: 100%

Artificial feeding increases mothers' risk of the following diseases as noted below:

Type 2 Diabetes: 4-14%
Ovarian cancer: 27%
Breast cancer: 39%

You should be aware of the fact that this is NOT a complete list.  Breastfeeding protects against many more diseases and scientists continue to do research around this topic.  Enough said - BREAST IS BEST - always has been, always will be!

Do these numbers surprise you?  alarm you?  make you even happier that you are/did/plan to breastfeed(ing)?  Tell me what you think.

November 12th, 2008 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Breast is BestPumpingResources

The Benefits of Breastfeeding from A to Z

Alhtough I don't recall who first shared these words with me, I have been holding onto this little tidbit for years now.  It is a good reminder of the countless benefits of breastfeeding and therefore I thought I would now share it with you.

A - helps avoid allergies; immediately available; antibodies are passed from mother to baby through her milk; nutrients are more easily assimilated

B - creates close bonding between mother and child; reduces risk of breast cancer; contributes to optimal brain development; breastmilk doesn't stain clothing

C - comforting for baby; convenient; changes as baby grows; no constipation; colostrum is the perfect first food

D - digests more easily; cannot be duplicated; allows delay of solids; fewer dental problems (promotes proper jaw, teeth and speech development so there is less need for expensive orthodontics later)

E - easy; enjoyable; enhances relationship with your baby

F - fulfilling; always fresh; gives you a free hand for reading, etc; fewer health problems means a happier baby

G - giving of yourself; a great way of meeting emotional and physical needs; less garbage and other environmental wastes

H - breastfed babies are healthier; babies are meant to have human milk

I - inexpensive; immunity factors are only found in breastmilk

J - joyful experience; ready in a jiffy

K - spend less time in the kitchen (mixing, washing, sterlizing, warming...)

L - loving; you can join a fun mother's group like La Leche League; less spitting-up and stomach upsets

M - delays the return of postpartum menstruation (but not necessarily ovulation); something only a MOM can do for a baby

N - perfect balance of nutrients; night feedings are easier; natural

O - prevents overfeeding; less diaper odour; reduces the chance of obesity later in life

P - prolactin helps you feel motherly; helps prevent serious health problems; milk supply is pure

Q - quiet time together; best quality nutrition; pratically unlimited quantity

R - relaxing; less rashes for baby; recommended by the Canadian Pediatric Society, the World Health Organization and The Breastfeeding Committee for Canada; completes the reproductive cycle:  conception, pregnancy, birth, lactation

S - satisfies all the senses; superior infant food; saves time, effort money and resources

T - always the right temperature; travel is easier; time-tested through the ages

U - uniquely suited to each baby; contracts uterus helping to expel the placenta and control blood loss; universality of breastfeeding is a link with mothers all over the world

V - especially valuable in special situations (prematurity, jaundice); taste of breastmilk varies from skim to creamy during each feeding

W - helps mother's weight loss by using extra calories; no need to worry about baby's food supply; encourages normal weight gain for baby; called "white blood" because of the life-giving properties

X - x-tra cuddling builds strong ties of love

Y - it's yummy of course!

Z - these are only a few of the zillions of advantages to breastfeeding your baby!

I'd love to hear about any other ABC's of Breastfeeding that you can think of!

adapted by Sandra Yates, 2003, from the original by Mary Clarke, Andrea Meyer and Mary Jo Rodgers, Minot, ND, USA, with a few additions by yours truly, Wendy Armbruster Bell, 2008