How Pumping Helps Keep the Breastfeeding Commitment

Anna Kooiman Brooks Kooiman

I have been exclusively breastfeeding Brooks for 12 weeks now. Pumping has helped me get some necessary 'me time' that makes me the best mom I can be. I try to pump once a day to make sure there is some milk in the refrigerator for my husband to give Brooks if he gets hungry while I'm out and about for a couple hours. I have heard loads of moms complain about how having a newborn can be isolating. I believe it is very important to have a bit of time each day to myself. Activities that have helped me feeling good? Going for a coastal walk, enjoying lunch with a girlfriend, shopping at the local boutiques, or getting a small pump or swim on at the gym.

Photos: Anna and Brooks Kooiman, Charlotte, NC, photo cred: Katherine Kirchner

Photos: Anna and Brooks Kooiman, Charlotte, NC, photo cred: Katherine Kirchner

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding newborns for at least 6 months, in combination with solid foods until 12 months, and continuing longer if mother and baby desire. The benefits for baby seem to be endless. Which is why I have made the commitment to exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months. But that's exactly what breastfeeding is... a commitment. I love how it helps me bond with my baby boy, Brooks, but as every new mom will tell you, there are a lot of challenges associated with it. Many women complain about cracked nipples, clogged milk ducts (and even sometimes getting sick with mastitis), overall breast soreness, and the need to never be too far from baby. Some moms have even said they feel chained to their baby by breastfeeding. Pumping can help new moms gain independence while still ensuring their babies reap the rewards of their mother's milk.

I love thinking about breastmilk like a superfood... made by me! It is such a special phenomenon. It makes me feel like super woman! Breastmilk contains antibodies to protect our babies from infection and disease.  It also contains nutrients that help with gut and brain development.  It is easiest and best for babies to digest and absorb.  I am making the commitment because babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop ear infections, respiratory infections, diabetes (type 1), allergies, eczema, asthma, and obesity. 

Below you will find a Q and A I did about pumping basics with one of the leading pump brands, Spectra.

ANNA: What should I look for when buying a breast pump.


SPECTRA: The most important thing to consider when buying a pump, is will this pump do what I need. If you are pumping for medical reasons, your baby is relying on your expressed milk to feed, or you need to build supply, you will need a hospital grade pump. For more casual convenience pumping and direct latch feeding is going great, with bubs not requiring any top ups, a personal pump will do the trick. You also want a closed system pump, so mould and other pathogens cannot get into the motor and risk mould spores and possibly harmful pathogens in your baby's milk. Consider if you need massage mode (helpful as baby gets older) and independent variable cycle speed from suction strength - this makes a big difference for many mums as to how well their breasts drain.

ANNA: If I have a breast pump should I take it to hospital to have a lactation specialist show me how to use it.



SPECTRA: Many mums are grateful to have their pump with them to use in hospital in those early days to help stimulate their milk coming in, and to help feed their little one if there is a learning curve for mum and bub with direct latch breastfeeding. A lactation specialist may be able to help mum set up the pump and look at shield fit which is very helpful, when mums are tired and uncertain in those early days, so YES!

ANNA: When can I start pumping breastmilk?



SPECTRA: There are different schools of thought about this but it depends on your situation. No matter when you start pumping breast milk, keeping your baby at your breast as much as possible in those first weeks is the best way to have a strong and long breastfeeding journey. It's time to get a netflix subscription, or good books, and clear all other plans or goals out of the way, as keeping your baby at your breast in these first weeks has so many breastfeeding benefits for mum and baby. Having a daily pumping schedule early on does help with milk supply, and down the road when pumping may be more important to feed your baby, as your body is used to responding to a pump and making the milk needed for those pumping sessions.

ANNA: Does Pumping and Bottle Feeding Have a Negative Effect If Too Soon?



SPECTRA: Again, there are different opinions about this. I have seen many mums regret not introducing a bottle much earlier on when their little one refused to take a bottle and they needed someone else to feed their baby for returning to work, or appointments or sheer exhaustion and needing a break. This is something every family should consider as part of what is most important to them looking at their big picture goals, plans and what your baby needs on a day to day basis. If not for pumping, some mums would be forced to use formula when they really wanted to breastfeed their baby. 

ANNA: How long should I pump for?
SPECTRA: Depends on why you are pumping, but if you are pumping because your baby relies on your expressed milk to feed, you should always pump till you are completely drained, then five minutes past that point to protect and build your supply.


ANNA: How many times in a day should I pump?

SPECTRA: This depends on your situation and pumping goals. If you are building supply, or exclusively expressing, you should pump every 2 - 3 hours with no more than one 5 hour break at night. You will need to pump till empty then an additional five minutes. If you are pumping for conveniences, it is totally up to you.