Reasons to Exclusively Pump Breast Milk for Your Baby

Woman holding baby son near bottles of breast milk
Reasons to Exclusively Pump Breast Milk for Baby. JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

There are lots of reasons  moms may exclusively pump their breastmilk. Sometimes this is mom’s choice and sometimes there are situations that prevent mom from feeding directly at the breast. Exclusive pumping can be for a few days or for a few years, depending on the situation and mom’s breastfeeding goals. Every drop of breastmilk is a gift to the baby receiving it. Breastmilk was made for human babies. Both mothers and babies receive benefits from breastmilk feeding. Some moms choose prenatally to exclusively pump, and some find out after the baby is born that exclusive pumping is part of their journey. Here are some of the reasons moms choose to exclusively pump:

Baby is Unable to Nurse Due to a Medical Condition

Most of the moms who fall into this category have a baby who is in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) who is unable to take oral feeds. Breastmilk is vital to these fragile babies and many moms will pump their milk until their babies are able to nurse at the breast effectively. Expressed breastmilk can then be given via alternative feeding methods while baby learns to breastfeed. Even after a premature baby is able to nurse at the breast, they often have difficulty creating enough suction to stimulate a full breastmilk supply for their mothers.

Mothers can give their babies and themselves the gift of breastfeeding by pumping until their babies are exclusively fed at the breast. Other times when a mom may pump due to a baby’s medical condition would be when baby has some kind of lip or palate clefting or muscle tone issue that is not able to be resolved with accommodations. Pumping also helps maintain mother’s milk supply when her baby is not able to stimulate her milk supply alone.

Mother is Uncomfortable with Breastfeeding But Wants to Give Breastmilk

This is probably the most common reason I hear for why a mother plans to exclusively pump if they make that plan before having the baby. For some mothers, the idea of putting a baby to their breast is simply unpalatable. This may be due to personal feelings about the breast, history of abuse or other personal reasons. Breastmilk is a wonderful gift for the baby, no matter what the feeding method and some mothers will choose to express their milk and give it to the baby via a bottle. Others mothers will choose this option so that another caregiver can be the primary person to feed the baby.

Breastfeeding is Not Working Out

If a breastfeeding issue makes nursing at the breast challenging, some mothers will choose to pump their milk. If you want to feed your baby at the breast, be sure to contact an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to help you get over major challenges. Exclusive pumping can help maintain your milk supply while you work out issues with a lactation consultant. Occasionally, even with professional help, there are issues that make breastfeeding difficult. In this case, exclusive pumping is often a step mothers take instead of weaning altogether. Babies then get the benefit of breastmilk.

Separation of Mother and Baby

Unfortunately, sometimes mamas and babies have to be apart. If mother has a career where she has to be away for extended periods of time (like a mom who is deployed) it may help her feel connected to her baby to pump her breastmilk for her baby. This also provides baby the healthiest food possible, even when they can’t be near their mom. Another time when this might occur would be when the baby’s parents are separated and share custody or if the baby is in foster care. The non-breastfeeding partner is able to continue the baby’s breastmilk feedings when mom is away. Mothers who are incarcerated are also sometimes able to express their breastmilk for their babies. This will vary from situation to situation.