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Thread: What do I lose by EP vs Breastfeeding?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    89

    Default What do I lose by EP vs Breastfeeding?

    New mom here that is REALLY struggling with BF and I am currently debating going to EP.

    However my LC told me "you really lose a lot by EP compared to breastfeeding". I know that breastfeeding reduces the rate of SIDS and I read that "it's because you can overfeed with pumping and bottles and get them sleepier or in a heavier sleep". Is this true? Do I lose the "if you breastfeed it reduces the risk of SIDS by 50%"? Also, what else do I lose?

    I really REALLY wanted to BF but it feels almost impossible so I want to see what my options or what I "lose" that the LC is referring too...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    24,911

    Default Re: What do I lose by EP vs Breastfeeding?

    I know this is going to sound harsh, so let me preemptively say that while. EP does have risks it is not undoable and is a valid and workable choice for many women.

    Here are the drawbacks of EP:
    - It's generally harder to maintain supply with the pump than it is by nursing, because babies typically empty the breast better and more frequently than is possible with a pump. Many- not all, but many- EP moms eventually come to a point where they are struggling to pump enough to meet their child's needs.
    - Nursing typically gets much easier and faster with time. EP does not. If it takes you 20 minutes to pump out a bottle today, it will take you that same 20 minutes 6 or 12 months from now. It's probably pretty easy to find that time now, when your child is a relatively immobile infant, but imagine trying to pump for 20 minutes while your older baby monkeys with your pump tubing or crawls over to the wall and starts poking at the electrical socket.
    - Nursing is a lot easier on the go than EP. If you nurse, you and your baby can zoom out of the house with nothing more than some spare diapers and your keys, and it won't matter when you come back because your baby's food will always be fresh and immediately available. If you EP, going out may mean taking your pump and planning when and where you will be able to use it, which can be quite tricky in public- imagine pumping on a plane, or in the middle of a store, or in a restaurant... It means packing your diaper bag with enough milk to cover your outing- enough that you can be gone a bit long, or to cover a bottle that drops on a dirty floor, but not so much that you will waste hard-won milk due to spoilage.
    - EP means dealing with storage issues. You will need to keep a constant eye on the age of the milk in your fridge and freezer, and rotate out the older stuff. You will probably want to taste-test your stored milk from time to time, in case you have developed issues with lipase (it's a naturally occurring enzyme which can make stored milk taste bad). You will need to keep an eye on your fridge and freezer, and make sure that they are functioning properly. Lots of moms have lost their frozen milk to an unplugged freezer or a week-long power outage.
    - EP produces food but nothing else. If you nurse, the breast becomes your all-purpose mothering tool. You can use the breast to comfort your baby when she's cranky or hurt, to get her to sleep when she's hyper, to distract her when she's into something she shouldn't, to soothe her when she's scared or upset.
    - EP probably means delivering all your baby's meals via bottle, and that means dealing with the fear of overfeeding. Breastfed babies don't overeat at the breast, but they can easily do so from the bottle.
    - Babies who nurse typically have fewer dental issues (decay, tooth placement) than bottlefed babies. Nursing may save you some $$$ on braces in the future.

    I am not sure what happens to the SIDS risk if a mom breastfeeds but delivers her child's meals via bottle. I am not sure anyone has done the research to tease out that particular statistic, or even if it is possible given the sample size you would need to have in order to do a robust statistical analysis.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    10,670

    Default Re: What do I lose by EP vs Breastfeeding?

    I am sorry you are still having such difficulties. I think it is possible your LC was trying to encourage you with her comment. Not so much trying to scare you about what you might "lose" if you do not nurse at the breast, but perhaps to say "it is still early days. We are working on this. Chances are good this is going to get solved, try to be patient and keep working on it."

    Mommal has outlined well the potential difficulties of EPing. So I will point out some of the reasons nursing at the breast is biologically preferable to bottles:
    Baby cannot be overfed at the breast but can quite easily be overfed with bottles. They may be overfed at individual meals, and/or overall. Usually (but not always) a bottle fed baby is fed less often with larger feedings than the biological norm of frequent small feedings as is typical of the breastfed baby. We do not yet know all the possible ramifications of this but it is possible that there are many.
    The action of nursing at the breast promotes the normal development of much of the face by promoting normal development of the entire oral cavity and jaw.
    A breastfed baby may well nurse for many years. Studies are showing that the benefits of being breastfed do increase the longer a person nurses. While of course it is possible to provide your milk long term for your child, (long term meaning, longer than a year or so) this is rarely something that happens when a mom is EPing.
    Mommal touched on this already but it is worth repeating- As your child ages, breastfeeding frequently becomes incredibly important as a parenting tool. Nursing almost immediately calms, comforts and quiets baby (or older nursing child) in any number of circumstances. This is good for both mom and baby.

    But, what is gained if a mom EPs? I have known many moms who EP'd. Almost all felt they had to, basically they came to the conclusion they could not nurse and the choice was EP or formula, and they chose to EP. But a few chose EPing for reasons other than that nursing at the breast was proving very difficult or impossible.

    Other moms I have known have nursed 'part time" and needed to supplement with their expressed milk, or "combo feed" (Their milk and formula) etc. etc. There are many variations. And what they gain by pumping or hand expressing their milk for their babies is a great satisfaction.

    What I have learned from these EPing, supplementing and combo feeding moms is that it feels good to be able to nourish your child with your body, even if it is not directly, and even if it is not "exclusively" or even mostly.

    But what does any of this matter? I think you have to look into your own heart. You have repeatedly said here that you really, really want to breastfeed. I understand that desire. And it had nothing to do with what this or that study said. So my question to you is, WHY do you want to breastfeed? Is it even something you can or need to articulate? Is it in order to maybe, ever so slightly, lower the already miniscule chance your child might die of SIDS? I do not think so. Moms want to nurse their children because we are biologically driven to do so. It just feels right. Sometimes it does not work out the way we hoped, and that can feel terribly unfair and overwhelmingly frustrating. But try to remember that far, far more than anything else, your baby needs and loves YOU. And you can give your child all they need by loving them, whether you nurse or not or pump your milk for them or formula feed.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; June 16th, 2016 at 01:14 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    97

    Default Re: What do I lose by EP vs Breastfeeding?

    I noted your other post too. Reading this again reminds me of myself and what I struggled with in the early weeks when I thought I would never heal and that I was going to have to quit. I was determined to breastfeed; I think I had breastfeeding tied up with my ideals of what it is to be a mother, the 'ultimate' in nurturing. I thought that if I stopped I wouldn't be a 'good' mother. Reading what maddieb wrote, it really does drive it home - breastfeeding is not everything; your baby wants and loves you, all of you - the arms that hold them and take care of them. Feeding is just one part of that. As noted on your other post, time is an amzing healer and for me time was what was needed (as well as clearing up infections) to move past the pain and get into the breastfeeding territory that I had visualised when pregnant. Take it one day at a time; but if you have to pump, bottle or formula feed - you are still that baby's mother and they will still love you 100% unconditionally.

    On the topic of what you lose by EP - I guess for me it would be sleep. I bedshare with my lo who remains a frequent waker, but as my breasts are available to her all night all I have to do is move slightly when she stirs to feed and drift off to sleep again. Big bonus.

    Mama to a little girl Sept 2015... EBF and BLS
    Baby wearing Mama and Dada
    Co-sleeping family and loving it
    Gentle and positive parenting

  5. #5

    Default Re: What do I lose by EP vs Breastfeeding?

    I EP, not by choice but I don't really think it's that bad. Everything is manageable!

    Here is my view compared to what mommal said about the drawbacks
    - It's generally harder to maintain supply with the pump than it is by nursing, because babies typically empty the breast better and more frequently than is possible with a pump. Many- not all, but many- EP moms eventually come to a point where they are struggling to pump enough to meet their child's needs.
    + I'm only 3.5 months out but this is not an issue for me. I pump more than what baby drinks and have a freezer stash. Pumping is a way to boost milk supply, so from what I read, it seems a lot of EP moms overproduce.

    - Nursing is a lot easier on the go than EP. If you nurse, you and your baby can zoom out of the house with nothing more than some spare diapers and your keys, and it won't matter when you come back because your baby's food will always be fresh and immediately available. If you EP, going out may mean taking your pump and planning when and where you will be able to use it, which can be quite tricky in public- imagine pumping on a plane, or in the middle of a store, or in a restaurant... It means packing your diaper bag with enough milk to cover your outing- enough that you can be gone a bit long, or to cover a bottle that drops on a dirty floor, but not so much that you will waste hard-won milk due to spoilage.
    + If I want to go out, I just bring a few bottles and it's not a problem. If I'm gone longer than 4 hours, then yes I do need to pump. I've pumped at a wedding (unavoidable since I was away from baby) and on a plane. It wasn't an issue to me.

    - EP means dealing with storage issues. You will need to keep a constant eye on the age of the milk in your fridge and freezer, and rotate out the older stuff. You will probably want to taste-test your stored milk from time to time, in case you have developed issues with lipase (it's a naturally occurring enzyme which can make stored milk taste bad). You will need to keep an eye on your fridge and freezer, and make sure that they are functioning properly. Lots of moms have lost their frozen milk to an unplugged freezer or a week-long power outage.
    + Freezer milk is extra milk. Lots of EBF moms don't have extra milk because they have never pumped or baby won't take a bottle. It makes being away from baby very difficult. If I run out of freezer space, I can donate the milk to preemies or other moms. I do think frozen milk doesn't smell or taste as good as fresh but my baby has no problems taking it.

    - EP produces food but nothing else. If you nurse, the breast becomes your all-purpose mothering tool. You can use the breast to comfort your baby when she's cranky or hurt, to get her to sleep when she's hyper, to distract her when she's into something she shouldn't, to soothe her when she's scared or upset.
    + I still nurse for comfort and for sleep, just not for nourishment (but I guess this is rarer for EP moms)

    - EP probably means delivering all your baby's meals via bottle, and that means dealing with the fear of overfeeding. Breastfed babies don't overeat at the breast, but they can easily do so from the bottle.
    + My baby doesn't overeat. In fact, I always try to feed her more but she won't have it.

    - Babies who nurse typically have fewer dental issues (decay, tooth placement) than bottlefed babies. Nursing may save you some $$$ on braces in the future.
    + I've no experience with this but I don't this is an issue for all EP babies....

    There are a few advantages...
    1- My baby eats pretty frequently in small amounts so I can pump 2 feedings each time.
    2- I don't feel comfortable bed-sharing so baby sleeps in her bassinet next to my bed. She wakes up multiple times at night so giving her the bottle is a lot easier than picking her up and BFing her.
    3- I work FT and am away from baby most of the time. Pumping allows you to be away from your baby for hours or days and anyone can feed or take care of her.

    But there's a BIG disadvantage:
    Bottle washing and washing pumps is a pain in the butt-- make your partner help with this! And EP does cost more money since you have buy pump and pump parts, although insurance may cover some costs.
    Last edited by @llli*thaliagoo; August 10th, 2016 at 06:12 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: What do I lose by EP vs Breastfeeding?

    I must say the first reply you got full of negatives was somewhat accurate but made me feel horrible. As if being an eper was such a horrible thing. But I'm sure I am just in my feelings. I've ep'ed for the last 6 months and don't regret it. My daughter didn't latch, I ended up getting horribly cracked nipples and thrush. My daughter doesn't over eat at all. I make double her need so when my freezer is full I donate. I do travel with my pump and have pumped in airports and cars. At the end of the day I don't mind bc I know I'm doing what's best for my baby. I have even contemplated going past a year pumping so she can get the maximum benefits from my milk. I do wish at times she would take the breast And maybe one day she will.

    Do what's best for you. Good luck.

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