Got Milk?


Got Milk? – The Advocate (click to see original article)

Experts agree that for babies, breast is best. But for some moms and babies, traditional breastfeeding doesn’t work. The good news is that, with a little work and an electric pump, breast milk can still be an option.

“I think either way, it’s tough work. Regardless of the feeding method you use, it’s difficult to have a new baby,” said Jennifer Alleman, an R.N. and lactation specialist with Baton Rouge General-Bluebonnet. “I think when moms choose to breastfeed or provide breast milk for their baby, they’ve made an informed decision.”

One of the motivating factors for moms who are able to provide breast milk – it doesn’t always work out for moms who try – is the quality of the nourishment.

The early breast milk, colostrum, is rich in nutrients and antibodies that protect the baby. The “mature milk” that arrives a few days after the baby is born provides all the nutrients and antibodies the baby needs.

Upping the ante: a study published July 30 in JAMA Pediatrics, found that each month of breastfeeding meant a 0.3 point increase in intelligence in children by age 3 and a 0.5 point increase by age 7.

But first things first.

For moms who end up exclusively pumping breast milk for their baby, things often turn in that direction by little steps: the baby is unable to latch onto the breast effectively; the mom’s work schedule, combined with other factors, makes it easier to pump; mom lives separately from dad and since she’ll be bringing bottles of breast milk along with the baby, when it’s going to dad, mom decides to go entirely with bottle-feeding.

“The No. 1 thing is developing a support team that will be there in the moments when she’ll be tired and frustrated,” said Jessica Evins, an R.N. and internationally board-certified lactation consultant with Ochsner Medical Center.

That support team can be the mother’s significant other, friends and family.

“If they don’t have that at home, we are the support team,” said Alleman at Baton Rouge General.

Moms can also find support in online communities devoted to exclusive pumping, Evins added.

Maddie Robison, 36, followed that advice and found support on the Facebook community. The Exclusively Pumping Group has more than a thousand women from all over the world.

“You feel like you’re part of a community,” said Robison, who works full time at LSU as assistant director in Graduate Student Services.

Robison and her husband, Sam, have two little girls, Sophia, 3, and Elizabeth, who’s 4 months old. She pumped exclusively for her first daughter, who had difficulty latching onto the breast.

The couple’s younger daughter experienced the same difficulty and after weeks of working with a lactation expert, Robison turned to exclusively pumping breast milk for her second daughter.

In the first weeks after her second daughter was born, people would advise Robison to begin using formula, as she and her daughter struggled with the breastfeedings.

“No, there is ‘Door No. 3’ for us,” said Robison of the option of exclusively pumping.

For the most comfort and good results, moms will need to rent or buy a good quality electric double pump, one that pumps from both breasts at the same time, or a single pump.

Hospitals where babies are delivered typically rent or sell such pumps, as do many other retail outlets. A hospital-grade pump might cost around $20 per week to rent or around $250 to $300 to buy.

New moms should check with their insurance company; recent changes in federal law mean renting or buying a pump is now covered, although individual plans vary. Breast pumps and other breastfeeding supplies are also allowed by the IRS as medical tax deductions and can be reimbursed by Flexible Health Spending Accounts.

A top-notch pump most closely resembles the sucking action of a full-term infant, said Nicole Fox, an R.N. and a certified lactation consultant in Woman’s Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

“It helps her (mom) get to full (milk) production,” Fox said.

“In the beginning days of nursing, the infant sucks fast and when the milk begins to flow, sucks slower. A good pump does that,” she said.

It’s also vital the flange, the plastic funnel that fits over the breast, is the correct fit and size, say lactation experts. One lactation expert recommends also keeping a manual pump on hand, if the electricity ever goes out.

Which brings us to scheduling. Moms generally need to pump about eight times in a 24-hour period, the same schedule that a newborn usually gets hungry.

“Biologically, that’s how our bodies are designed,” Fox said. “Less than that, there’s less stimulation, and the mother won’t develop a full milk supply.”

It takes about 15 minutes to pump on a double pump, or 15 minutes on each breast with a single pump. Breast milk is then stored in specially made bags or sterilized bottles to be refrigerated or frozen.

For all moms, lactation experts recommend lots of skin-to-skin time for mom and baby.

“We do encourage them to do a lot of skin-to-skin time, even if they don’t plan on putting the baby to breast,” Alleman said.

It’s shown to regulate the baby’s heart rate, breathing and blood sugar.

Plus, it’s just nice for mom and her baby.