Mothers who pump their milk do so with the best intentions. Mothers who juggle working in the office with nursing are heroic. However, when their milk runs out fast and they wonder why, I want to provide the explanation. Information is key to help mothers make the best choices for themselves.
The child’s requests for food help the mother create exactly the supply that the child needs. Mothers never need to fear if their child is getting enough, as long as they are nursing on demand—from the breast. Even though they cannot see the amount that the child takes in, they don’t have to worry, because the child makes the supply by asking for it. There is no need to double guess.
When mothers pump, they confuse the supply. Mothers cannot know how much to pump. Even if they pump more than enough, they proceed to give the child the food from the bottle, which means that their breasts are missing the signal to make more milk in the next meal. Without this signal at the next meal, the mother’s supply diminishes.
I also love that the mother’s supply truly changes based on the growing child’s needs. In the early days and months, a mother does not need to produce as much as she would later. When a mother pumps, she cannot possibly know the amount that her particular child will need.
Pumping is a blessing that frees many women to do something nutritious and positive for their children while earning money and having some space if they need it. However, if a mother hopes to nurse for more than the first 9 months, she should consider nursing on demand. Otherwise, she should try nursing as much as possible, even if there is leftover milk from the pumping.