Can you pump before giving birth? When it comes to fitting breast pumping into a busy life with a new baby, find out what new moms want to know most 65-75% of lactating women suffer from breast engorgement.
Mothers who know know. The engorgement that comes with breast milk production is painful.
Unfortunately, some women start experiencing breast milk engorgement before they give birth. But, they're not sure about pumping before birth.
Many women wonder, "can you pump before giving birth?" Keep reading to find out.
Who Can Consider Pumping Before Birth?
A lot of pregnant mothers begin expressing colostrum long before it's time for them to give birth.
Colostrum is the first bit of milk that a woman begins presenting. It is very nutrient-dense while being high in antioxidants and antibodies. Colostrum is important to helping build a newborn's immune system.
In fact, many scientists refer to colostrum as "liquid gold."
After two to four days, this colostrum will turn into regular breast milk. If you start expressing this before birth, there's no harm in pumping and saving this milk as long as you don't have a high-risk pregnancy.
Pumping milk can cause the uterus to start contracting. While it may not trigger labor in a low-risk pregnancy, it may do so in a high-risk pregnancy.
Here are some things that may categorize your pregnancy as high-risk:
- You've been told you have a high-risk pregnancy
- You've been told that you're at risk for pre-term labor
- You're carrying multiple babies
- You've been told to stop sexual activity during the rest of your pregnancy
- You've been experiencing bleeding during pregnancy
- You've been experiencing uterine pain during pregnancy
If you aren't able to pump, you can massage your breasts to relieve pressure as the milk begins to accumulate in the ducts.
When Can You Start Breast Pumping Safely?One of the primary concerns with early milk expression is whether pumping is safe for pregnant mothers to do. Unless you have a serious medical condition or previous trauma to your breasts, early milk pumping shouldn't be a problem.
In fact, milk expression can release oxytocin which is a hormone that can stimulate the uterus. While this may sound scary, it isn't linked to premature labor. Other activities like sex and breastfeeding also release oxytocin and both are safe during pregnancy.
However, you should let your provider know if you start to experience some cramping in your uterus. This could be a sign that your body is over-producing oxytocin.
Who Should Seriously Consider Pumping Before Birth
Some physicians recommend milk expression before birth. If you have certain health conditions, you could benefit from pumping early.
Here are some of the most common conditions that may benefit from early milk expression:
- Gestational Diabetes
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Previous surgery on the breasts
If you don't have one of these conditions, that doesn't mean you shouldn't ask about pumping before birth. It just means that you don't have to worry about chronic illness on top of the breastfeeding.
You should go ahead and ask your physician about what you can do, chronic illness or not.
Individuals with chronic illnesses have to worry about regulating their hormones, blood sugar, blood pressure, and more while pregnant. But, pumping early could help them control these metrics while taking care of their baby.
Advantages of Pumping Colostrum Before Birth
Pumping early will help your baby and you build up a store of milk before she arrives. Because of this, you'll be able to take advantage of several benefits:
- Your newborn will get more colostrum in their diet, which will expose them to more nutrients and immune support
- You can feed your baby quickly after birth, which is useful in case you can't breastfeed for various reasons
- You can feed your baby while you're learning to breastfeed
- A premature baby can receive the colostrum through a feeding tube to support their growth and immune function as they grow
- Your baby can learn how to feed with a bottle, which is useful while you're working or otherwise need to be away from the baby
- The extra milk that you collect before birth can serve as a supplement for your child, whether they're taking breast milk, formula, or another form of feeding
- If you don't use the colostrum, you can donate it to other infants in need
When in doubt, ask your physician about what you're able to do. They can consider your medical conditions and determine your risk with early pumping.
Advise Your Healthcare Providers on When to Start PumpingMost medical choices are individual. Pumping is no different.
You should ask your healthcare provider about when the best time is for your first pump. If you decide that it's time to start pumping, you need a plan.
After collecting the first bit of colostrum, you can gather it in syringes and freeze it. You should place these syringes in a freezer bag for transport to the hospital.
When it's time to defrost the colostrum later, you can run the bag under some warm water.
If this is a part of your birth plan, you should let your healthcare provider know. When you go into the birthing center, you should let the staff know about your plan, too. This may include your colostrum plan as well as other wants.
The hospital you're giving birth at may want access to your colostrum stores so they can help you administer the colostrum to your baby after birth. However, it's best to breastfeed first if you can. This will help your milk stores come in quickly after giving birth.
If your baby has trouble breastfeeding after birth, your team may want to try with the colostrum you collected first.
In the end, some of this collected colostrum may go to waste. Some people become disappointed by this, but this isn't a cause for disappointment. Rather, you should be celebrating the fact that you were able to breastfeed comfortably and confidently.
Collecting the breast milk early can help you have a backup plan in case breastfeeding takes a while for you and/or your baby to get used to. It also helps you get a good idea of how breastfeeding works and how your breasts will form during breastfeeding.
Can You Pump Before Giving Birth?As with most medical advice, the short answer is that it depends on your personal case.
Your pumping timeline may change depending on your ideal milk delivery techniques, potential length of maternity leave, and other personal preferences.
As you learn more about what your schedule after delivery looks like, you'll be able to build a schedule with pumping and saving.
For Women Who Are Primarily BreastfeedingIf you're planning on breastfeeding your child, you may not want to start breast pumping before birth. In fact, you may want to wait until your child gets his/her very first feeding.
As you and your child spend time together during breastfeeding, you'll be able to build a ritual. Breastfeeding will become like a rhythm that you and your child follow together.
You should worry about working on latching and milk production before you worry about pumping. However, pumping may become useful later on if you're planning on incorporating bottle feeding.
For Women Who Are Primarily Bottle Feeding
Many women use bottle feeding as their primary choice for feeding their babies. They may pump milk and serve it in a bottle or use supplemental milk like formula.
There are many reasons to choose this form of feeding:
- Easier balance of work and family life
- Medical issues
- Personal choice
- Low milk supply
- Trouble pumping
In fact, having a supply of milk may help while your breasts get used to supplying enough milk for your baby. And, it'll be useful when you want some rest postpartum.
Get the Breast Pumping Equipment You NeedSo, can you pump before giving birth? Absolutely!
Pumping before birth is a great choice, especially if you have a chronic illness that may affect your hormones, blood sugar, or other important body metrics during pregnancy.
If you're ready to start pumping before birth, you should collect all of the material early. At BabyBuddha, we can help you get all of the breastfeeding items you need. From pumps to accessories, we can help with everything you need.
Check out our shop here.