Do you really need a breast pump? It’s become a standard assumption that most moms make that they will need a breast pump. Of course, if you will be returning to work either part- or full-time, you will need a breast pump to build up a freezer supply of breast milk and to pump when you are away from your baby. However, if you choose to stay with your baby, are working from home, or can take baby with you, you may not need to pump. Or you may need such a small amount of breast milk stored that you can hand express to get what you need. Consider the reasons why you may or may not need a pump and make your own decision about this sometimes pricey piece of equipment.
You Probably Don’t Need to Pump to Bring your Milk In
Your baby and your body are made to work together in perfect harmony. If you have the basics of breastfeeding down , then you should not need to pump to bring your milk in. I understand how it can be hard to trust when you don’t see or feel any milk coming out for the first couple of days. Remember that this is totally normal and that your baby is getting the super concentrated and amazing colostrum during this time. Encourage your baby to nurse as often and as long as she wants to - this will bring your milk in that much quicker. You do your part by getting plenty of rest, eating lots of nutritious foods, and drinking plenty of clear fluids, including our supportive herbal breastfeeding teas. Of course, listen to your healthcare provider, and if there are other circumstances involved and you do need to pump to encourage milk production, please do so.
Return to Work
If you are returning to work and plan on continuing to breastfeed your baby, or bottle feed your baby with your breast milk only or some combination of breast milk and formula, you will need a good breast pump to pump at work. It is good to have a conversation with your employer before you return to work about your plans. If you know that your employer already has accommodations for pumping mommas, that is wonderful! If not, then you will need to let them know what you need. You will need a private, clean space (that is not the bathroom) to pump and a small refrigerator to store your milk. You will need to start making your preparations to return to work a couple of weeks before you actually go back to work.
Home with Baby
If you are going to be home with your baby, and will be able to nurse on demand, you will most likely not need to pump. On demand nursing is the perfect way to bring in your milk supply. Tuck your baby in close to you and snuggle close. Better yet, both of you get into bed, with lots of nutritious snacks for momma, including some water and/or tea, and let the baby lay naked (except for a diaper) on your naked chest. This skin to skin contact is extremely soothing to you both and will encourage your baby to root, latch, and suckle.
Continuing to nurse on demand with an older infant and child becomes second nature and takes less and less time. However, you may still want to have a small amount of stored breast milk in your freezer in the case of an emergency, date night, or get away. You can use an expensive manual pump for this, or learn how to hand express if you don't want to purchase a pump.
Small Amount in Case of Emergencies or Time Away
If you don’t have plans to be spending larger amounts of time away from your baby in the first year or so - or however long you plan to be breastfeeding - you many not think that you need to have any breast milk stored at all. However, it is a good idea to at least have a little bit stored in case of emergencies, or other unplanned time away. You can hand express breast milk or get a manual pump. If you want to invest in an electric pump, but don’t necessarily want to buy one new, most pump manufacturers do sell all of the hoses and parts that come into contact with milk separately, so you can buy all of those new and get a used pump from someone you know or purchase one online.
Purchasing a breast pump may not be as black and white a decision as you may have thought. There are some circumstances where a good quality pump is a wise investment. But in some situations, you may be able to save your money, or invest it other places. In truth, your baby needs very little. You are her greatest need.