“How do I bond with my baby without breastfeeding?”
It’s a common concern for many mamas who are considering exclusively pumping or formula feeding their babies. And if this is you too, hear us out: The baby and mom bond is strong. And no method of feeding, whether by bottle or breast, can break it.
Here, we hope to alleviate your concerns and give you some tips for bonding with your baby if you choose to exclusively pump or bottle feed. If you remember anything from this guide, let it be this: you know what’s best for you and your little one. You do you, mama. We support you!
Is It Okay to Pump and Not Breastfeed?
TLDR; Yes! Absolutely. If you wish to take advantage of the benefits of breast milk but can’t breastfeed or choose not to, pumping is an excellent way to feed your baby. Instead of feeding your baby from your breast, you’ll spend feeding times pumping and then feeding your baby from a bottle.
If you choose to pump exclusively, it’s important to have a pumping schedule in place as soon as your baby is born. This ensures you’re pumping often, which helps your body keep up milk production. You’ll also want to purchase a breast pump, breast milk storage bags or containers, and bottles if you haven’t done so already.
5 Reasons Why Some People Can’t Breastfeed
Sometimes mamas don’t have a choice whether to breastfeed, pump or use formula. In some cases, medical conditions, low supply and other factors may mean moms have to choose another option over breastfeeding.
According to the Mayo Clinic, medications can pass from you into your breast milk and then to your baby. This means some medications could pose a risk to your baby when taken. Some examples include chemotherapy drugs used for the treatment of cancer or antiretroviral medicines used to treat HIV.
It’s best to speak to your doctor about any contraindications before beginning breastfeeding or pumping.
Low Milk Supply
Some mamas simply have a low milk supply due to medical conditions such as hypothyroidism and PCOS. If this is you, know that you can still breastfeed or pump while supplementing with formula to ensure your baby is fed.
Some diseases can be passed from mom to baby fairly easily. And unfortunately, these diseases can be harmful to the baby if contracted. For example, according to the CDC, moms who are diagnosed with HIV or HTLV (T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or II) should not breastfeed or feed expressed milk to their babies.
There are certain medical conditions that may make it difficult for a baby to breastfeed. For example, according to the CDC, babies who are diagnosed with galactosemia shouldn’t be breastfed as they’re unable to break down the galactose found in milk.
Lack of Education or Support
In one study, women who did not initiate breastfeeding simply didn’t have education regarding breastfeeding or in-hospital support. The study found that a greater proportion of the women who did not initiate breastfeeding as compared to those who did, did not receive a phone number for help, received a gift pack of formula, were not taught how to breastfeed, did not receive info about breastfeeding, and did not in-room with their babies.
If you’re unsure how to breastfeed or didn’t receive the support you were expecting, there’s help available. Discuss your needs with your doctor or your baby’s pediatrician. Or, find a lactation consultant near you who can help.
5 Tips for Bonding With Your Baby While Pumping
Whether you’re currently taking important medications that prevent you from breastfeeding or you simply wish to pump, there are still plenty of ways to bond with your little bundle of joy.
Take a Break From Showering
Yes, we’re for real. And here’s why: Plenty of studies show that your baby will learn to recognize your unique smell. Plus, your baby will know it’s you by your smell regardless of your chosen feeding method.
Smell and other factors contribute to your baby feeling safe when cuddled in your arms. So taking a break from the shower for a day or so can jumpstart the bonding process.
Sing and Chat
As you pump or feed your baby via bottle, sing your favorite nursery rhyme or simply tell your baby about your day. This is a great way for your baby to get to know your voice. Plus, you may capture a little smile or smirk to fill your mama heart.
Prioritize Skin-to-Skin Contact
Skin-to-skin contact involves you and your baby spending time chest to chest. Skin-to-skin is known as one of the most beneficial bonding techniques.
According to Stanford Health, skin-to-skin results in a rush of oxytocin that enables mothers and babies to recognize each other’s unique scent. Plus, this rush also comforts your baby which can help in the bonding process.
As you pump, skin-to-skin contact can also help with milk flow. Oxytocin makes your milk flow and fills the ducts. This is the driving force behind “letdown” which enables you to breastfeed or pump.
Make Eye Contact
Recent studies have shown that making eye contact with your baby can result in you and your baby’s brain waves syncing together. Cool, right? Eye contact is one of your baby’s earliest forms of communication. And we all know that relationships require communication to grow. This is true for you and your baby too!
As you pump, you may notice that it’s hard to experience letdown, especially if you’re away from your baby. This is where photos come in handy. Take pictures of your baby to look through while you pump to get the oxytocin flowing. You might just feel yourself smiling as you swipe.
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Willow® 3.0 Wearable Breast Pump
Willow® 3.0 Wearable Breast Pump
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