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Side Effects Of Using Breast Pumps

Published on: 15 May , 2019 | Ekta

Breast pumps have made life easier for mothers especially those who are working full-time, part-time or love travelling. The convenience of expressing the breast milk and storing it for 2-3 days facilitates new moms to resume their work as well as provide the right nourishment to their babies. But, using breast pumps has some health issues that not many mothers are aware of. This article enlists the Side Effects Of Using Breast Pumps.

Should you use breast pumps regularly? There is no right or wrong answer. However, it is important to consider the effects of each way on both the woman and the baby.

It’s every woman’s envy to see another mother having sufficient supply of breast milk & being able to express milk for storage despite of feeding her baby. Many women these days suffer from decreased supply of milk. Thankfully, I was not one among them.

You may also be interested in: Best Breast Pumps In India

When Should You Pump Breast Milk?

  • If your baby is unable to latch properly, but the supply if sufficient.
  • If you are planning to resume work before 6 months and still want to breast feed the child. Alternatively, if you are running errands or has to spend few hours with a baby sitter or family.
  • For medical reasons – You want to express milk to alleviate pressure or you are suffering from mastitis (an inflammation of breast tissue resulting in breast pain, swelling and redness).

Things To Consider While Pumping Breast Milk

  • For best results, express milk in the morning. Supply of milk is best when you are well rested and your body recoups from the emotional & physical stress.
  • If you are pumping milk in-between breast feeding your child, maintain a gap of 60minutes before and after each session.
  • You can pump milk 7-10 times a day. Average milk produced by most women is between 750-1100 ml of milk.

Side Effects Of Using Breast Pumps

Side Effects Of Using Breast Pumps

Disrupts Bonding With Your Newborn Baby

Exclusive Breastfeeding for 6 months cannot be substituted by bottle feeding. Holding your little baby in your arms, looking into his eyes, singing lullabies and feeling the suckling from your breast creates an emotional bonding that can never be replaced. It is proven that skin-to-skin contact between mom and child can reduce the risk of hypothermia, stress and may help babies sleep better.

Sore Breasts, Nipple Damage & Engorgement of Breasts

Some women experience sore nipples & irritation as the tissues are delicate and can get damaged easily. Regular use of electric breast pump side effects is that working mothers tend to pump too much so that they can have a big supply stored for later use. As a result, over production of hormones make the breasts swell and fill with too much milk leading to painful engorgement of breasts. Incomplete emptying of the breast often leads to plugged ducts and mastitis. This makes moms feel like uneasy & causes fever & body pain. This is one of the Side Effects Of Using Breast Pumps.

Delays Weight Loss & Contraction Of Uterus

Exclusive breastfeeding also helps the uterus size to become normal much faster. It’s proven that the uterus of a breastfeeding mother bounces to normal size in 6 weeks post-delivery. But, it takes 10 weeks for the uterus to return to normal size if a mother does not breastfeed her baby.

Expressing Milk Can Be Stressful & Awkward

On some occasions, mothers may not be able to find a private place to pump when they are outside their home – travelling or at work place.

Decreased milk supply - Side effect of using breast pumps

The latching-on of a baby is what stimulates more milk production in your body. A breast pump’s mechanism is different from that of a baby latching on to the mother’s breasts & sucking directly. Continuous pumping causes decreased milk supply which is the one of the main side effects of using these pumps. This is one of the Side Effects Of Using Breast Pumps.

Also Read: Breastfeeding Essentials

Tips To Increase Breast Milk Supply

  1. Drink plenty of water, fluids & healthy snacks before after & while feeding if you feel hungry. Include foods like fenugreek seeds, garlic, almonds, flaxseeds, alfalfa and greens to your diet everyday.
  2. Take less stress. Enjoy your motherhood – take regular naps. A well-rested mind & body produces better quality milk & gives better aura & vibes to the baby.
  3. Increase the frequency of feeding or pumping – empty your breasts to signal the body to produce more milk
  4. Double pumping (on both sides simultaneously) will yield more milk relative to feeding or pumping from one side at a time.
  5. Even if you are breast-feeding your baby, pump some milk if the breasts are not completely empty. This sends signals to the hormones to increase supply of milk.
  6. Slows Down Post - Partum Pain & Recovery

While breastfeeding, the mother’s body produces a hormone called ‘oxytocin’ which causes the uterus to contract helping in curbing excessive bleeding after delivery.

Depletion of nutrients as a result of storing – Health issues while using breast pumps

Storage of breast milk in the fridge or freezer depletes the nutrients of the breast milk in comparison to freshly consumed milk. It is also better for digestion & requires no necessity to bring it down to normal room temperature.

Shuttling Between Bottle & Breasts Baffles The Baby

Constantly switching between bottle-feeding and breastfeeding can baffle the baby. The underlying suckling mechanism varies in both cases. The baby may suck harder on the mother’s nipples, if he is habituated to suckling from the bottle regularly leading to sore nipples. If your child pulls back, coughs or chokes often, it may be a sign that you are producing too much milk. This gets adjusted with the natural suckling mechanism over time.

Cleaning & Sterilizing Is Laborious – Disadvantages Of Using Breast Pumps

The nipples, bottles along with the breast pump, need to be thoroughly sterilized before and after each use. While travelling with infants, you may not find an appropriate place to store the breast milk for longer use.

Danger of Contamination & Infection

Human intervention in any activity cannot be guaranteed error-free. No matter how well you sterilize the bottle & it’s accessories, there are hard-to-reach parts of the pump and valves that can accumulate mold, fungus and bacteria. These micro-organisms find the enriched breast milk an ideal environment to thrive & multiply.

Indigestion Problems

Chances that the contaminated breast milk will harm your baby and cause indigestion is higher, than help him derive nourishment from it. Producing too much milk can cause gas, flatulence and other digestive problems. As a result, if wrongly detected, can lead to early weaning.

Tooth Decay Due To Excessive Bottle Feeding

While suckling directly from the mother’s breasts, the milk does not touch the baby’s teeth. On the contrary, while feeding from the bottle, the baby falls asleep with the bottle in the mouth, causing the milk to constantly touch the infant’s teeth. This causes early tooth decay over a period of time.

Also Read: Homemade Cerelac For Babies 6months+

Cons Of Pumping Breast Milk

An Expensive Affair

Pumping milk requires you buy the right equipment like bottles, breast pump, milk storage containers, hands-free pumping bra and a refrigerator even when you are travelling. It may not be affordable by middle class families in India.

Privacy Issues

It is easier to fee your baby while travelling or in public along with a basic nursing cover. Pumping milk can be noisy and cumbersome while you are amidst other people.

How to minimize the side effects of using breast pumps?

  • Wash your hands before expressing milk – the chances of infection reduces. Thoroughly disinfect, boil or steam to clean the breast pump and other accessories to eliminate the germs.
  • Breast feed your baby exclusive for 6 months. The “let-down” effect causes oxytocin to produce more milk by the body.
  • Breast pumps should be replaced after 8 to 10 months for 2 reasons –
  • Negates the chances of contamination as mold, fungus or bacteria get formed in the valves or in unreachable parts which cannot be thoroughly cleaned.
  • The pumping mechanism becomes inefficient over time, indirectly causing decreased production of breast milk.
  • Cool the milk or freeze it immediately if you don’t want to give it to your baby immediately. Breast milk can be kept in the fridge for up to 3days, and in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Electric Breast Pump Vs. Manual Breast Pump. Pros & Cons:

An electric or automatic breast pump is much better than a manual one because –

  1. Regular use of a manual pump causes reduced production of mother’s milk.
  2. Using a manual pump 2-3 times a day for expressing the milk is very tedious & tiring. 

Must Read: Foods that Increase Breast Milk Production

Breast Cancer & Breast Feeding

Breast feeding your baby reduces the chances of Breast Cancer significantly. This is because the lifetime exposure to producing estrogen reduces while lactation. Even if you have had breast cancer in the past, it is possible to feed your child under the guidance of a lactation consultant. Also, while lactating the breast sheds a lot of tissues which contains cells with damaged DNA that can cause Cancer.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Breast Pumps & Pumping Milk Regularly?

The breasts produce more milk when the baby breastfeeds more. This natural feedback loop controls milk supply. Infants who are fed exclusively on expressed milk do not get the benefit of a feedback loop. However, they do still gain access to mother’s milk that is rich in nutrients, healthy fats and antibodies.

Flexibility To Work & Controlled Timing

Expressing milk & storing allows the mother to facilitate work & time the feeding schedule. The care takers can also nourish the baby with the mother’s milk when the infant is hungry. If you are suffering from erratic milk supply or production, expressing & storing in freezer is a good option to ensure continuous nourishment for your baby.

Breast Milk Donation & Sharing

Once the milk is expressed, you can also enjoy the privilege of donating the breast milk to mothers with insufficient supply. Donor milk is getting increasingly popular world-wide. Milk banks can aid when you are suffering from some illness & are unable to feed your child due to health issues.

On occasions, sharing breast milk offers some convenience and helps the person who is breastfeeding feel more relieved when she is recovering from post-partum pain.

Some Common FAQ’s

  • Is it safe to use breast pump?

There is no right or wrong. You can definitely use breast pumps for convenience & if you have health issues in feeding your child directly. For instance, if your child is in neonative intensive care unit or medically unable to suckle milk. Ensure you are sterilizing the bottles, pumps & accessories thoroughly before & after each use.

  • What if I wait too long to pump milk?

Your milk production will gradually decrease as the body will decipher that there is no need to produce as much milk as it is currently supplying.

  • How much milk should I pump to relieve from breast engorgement?

Breast feed your child at least once in 2 hours or lesser during the day & less than 3 hours in the night. You can apply ice packs between two feeding sessions to relieve discomfort due to sore breasts & engorgement.

sore breasts & engorgement.

  • Are babies more efficient than breast pump?

Yes, certainly. The suckling mechanism of babies is different from that a breast pump. The latching & let-down effect is more efficient when you are breast feeding your baby. Also, the emotional bond you create is irreplaceable.

  • Is frozen milk better than formula milk?

Frozen milk definitely sees some depletion in nutrients as it is not fresh. However, it is better than formula milk as it does not contain any added preservatives, needs no mixing, and is not expensive like using formula milk. Breast milk contains significantly higher concentration of essential antioxidants for a healthy baby especially if it’s a preterm infant.

  • Electric automatic breast pump can cause cancer?

There is no evidence that using breast pumps causes breast cancer. Using a breast pump in some women can causes the following changes – Sagging breasts, inability to resume normal size after lactation, changes in nipples due to stronger suction through breast pump relative to a baby’s suckling, nipples may grow bigger as a result of added pressure.

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A doting mom to an angel, Social Media Specialist & Professional Blogger. She loves to share her thoughts with other parents in the same turbulent boat. She absolutely loves & adores her family & is learning to strike a good work-life balance. When she is not writing, cooking or busy taking care of her toddler, she probably is dancing to some good desi music!

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