Deciding to Pump

Here’s where I give you the whole story…

My son was formula fed. Exclusively. I did not even attempt to breastfeed. I literally lost sleep and had nightmares during my pregnancy. A family history of challenges and intense modesty issues eventually forced me to just say, “You know what? My baby is going to be formula-fed. And that’s that.”

I don’t want to get into a debate about “what’s better” or “who’s a better mommy” or any of that. I just want you all to know where I started at with this feeding debate. My son thrived. He was healthy and hearty and not prone to ear infections or viruses or anything else. Daddy happily took on the 2 am feedings and I was happy to let him. I was truly content with my choice.

And when I was pregnant with #2? Fully intended to formula feed again. Never even entertained the idea of breastfeeding.

Fast forward to when I was 23 weeks pregnant and in labor. All of a sudden, I was faced with the knowledge that my baby may very well be born before the third trimester even began. My baby wouldn’t get any of those wonderful antibodies that pass through the placenta during those final weeks of pregnancy. My baby would get absolutely no antibodies whatsoever from me… unless I chose to breastfeed.

Panicked, I asked the nurse, “Can I change the paperwork???? When I checked in, I said I wanted bottles, but I don’t! I want to try to breastfeed! Can I??”

“No problem.”

Well, when C. arrived at just barely 24 weeks, it became clear that she would not be nursing. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t pass on nutrients and antibodies. It just meant I had to pump.

Did you know that women’s bodies still produce milk shortly after delivery with preemies just like full-term babies? Did you know that our bodies are so incredibly amazing that the milk preemie moms produce is different from that produced by moms who give birth at term? Incredible.

Deciding how to feed your baby is a very important decision. It is also an intensely personal decision. If, like me, you do decide to provide breast milk for your preemie, stick around. Tomorrow I’ll be addressing some tips for keeping up your supply and some “best practices” for successful pumping.

You can read more about the importance of a hospital grade breast pump here.

You can find some great reader tips for storing expressed breast milk here.

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