Often when I meet new mothers who are facing problems with breastfeeding, I observe that they have already purchased a breast pump, but find it either ineffective or painful to use. Should all new mothers be buying breast pumps? The answer is NO. You do not need a breast pump if your baby is latching well and is able to feed directly from your breast. Also, if you plan to be there for your baby's nursing needs throughout first six months and later as well, you do not need to pump your breast milk. In case you suffer from frequent engorgements, hand expressing milk is as good as pumping, sometimes even better.
That said, here are a few situations where a mother may need to use a breast pump:
1. To avoid supplementing feedings with infant formula. By expressing her own breastmilk, a mother can continue to feed her child only breastmilk even when they must be apart during baby’s meal times.
2. Need to return to work. For many new mothers, returning to work shortly after giving birth is a reality, but by pumping and storing milk while at work a mother can continue to provide her baby with breastmilk as long as she would like.
3. To allow dad or other family members to feed baby. When mom expresses breastmilk for later feedings, dad and older siblings can give feedings to help mom and bond with the new baby.
4. Give mom a chance to relax. Breastfeeding on demand can easily wear any mother out occasionally. Having a cup of expressed milk available allows mom to take some much needed time for herself while someone else takes care of baby.
5. Premature or sick infant is unable to nurse properly. In order to provide breastmilk for a premature baby that is too weak to breastfeed a mother can use a hospital grade pump to express milk for feedings. A pump will also provide breast stimulation to increase and maintain a sufficient supply of milk.
6. Induce lactation for an adopted baby. A breast pump can be used to stimulate a mother’s breast to induce milk production to breastfeed an adopted baby. Breastfeeding a great way for a mother and her adopted child to bond.
7. Create an emergency supply. A mom can pump and store an emergency supply of breastmilk in her freezer to use for feedings in case she becomes sick or needs to take medication.
8. Draw out flat or inverted nipples. Mothers with flat or inverted nipples can have trouble when trying to get baby to latch on properly. By pumping a few minutes before breastfeeding, a mother can draw out her nipple so that baby can nurse more easily.
9. Provide milk for children of a multiple birth. Breastfeeding one child can be very demanding on a mother and feeding twins or other multiples only increases the demand and challenge for a mother. By pumping milk, a mother of multiples can provide her children with breastmilk without having to nurse around the clock.
10. Maintain your milk supply. By using a breast pump to stimulate milk production a mother can keep her supply up so that she can breastfeed her baby when they are together.
11. Baby has difficulty latching-on. If a mother’s breasts are very full, pumping some milk out can make it easier for her baby to latch-on and nurse properly. For other infants who are unable to latch-on because of a birth defect like a clip lip or palate, expressing milk is the only way for them to receive breastmilk for feedings.
12. Donate extra milk to a milk bank. While some mothers may have difficulties producing a sufficient amount of milk for their babies, other mothers seem to produce an abundance of milk and choose to donate this surplus to infants that may not have access to breastmilk.
13. Supplement first foods with breastmilk while weaning baby from the breast. Although a mother may want to wean her baby from the breast, she can continue to supplement her infant’s diet with breastmilk if she expresses and stores her milk.
14. Relieve pain from engorgement. When a mother’s breasts are overly full and engorged with breastmilk, she can use a breast pump to express enough milk to provide relief from pain.
**adapted from breastpumps.com