Breast Pumping and Breastfeeding: How to Combine Both for Optimal Infant Nutrition
A popular saying goes like this – Some of the best things in life comes in Combos….just like peanut butter & jelly OR milk and cookies OR shoes and socks. The same goes good with one of the best natural & most nutritious food for newborns – Breast Milk. Although a new mother is sometimes confused about the best feeding method for her baby, a strategic combination of breast pumping by using the best breast pump and breastfeeding can be an effective way to provide optimal infant nutrition while offering flexibility and convenience for the mother.
A breast pump is a useful tool lately in trend, that helps extract milk from the mother’s breast, especially in situations when the mother needs to be away from the baby. The breast pump comes in two types – manual & automatic, with lots of popular brands selling any or both types of breast pump in the market.
We have here - some guidelines which will help you successfully combine both methods & provide optimum nutrition to the baby & health benefits to the nursing mother:
Breastfeeding before pumping: It's important to establish a strong breastfeeding relationship with the baby, before introducing a breast pump. This helps ensure a good milk supply and allows the baby to become comfortable with both natural latching and external feeding of milk expressed from a breast pump.
Introduce pumping gradually: Start by introducing breast pump sessions once a day, preferably in the morning when the milk supply is typically higher. This allows you to build up a stash of expressed milk while continuing to breastfeed directly. A breast pump with good suction capacity will help achieve this effortlessly.
Choose the right breast pump: Invest in a good-quality breast pump that suits your needs. There are various types available, including manual and electric breast pump. An electric breast pump is generally more efficient and allows for faster milk expression. Double electric breast pump can save more time by expressing milk from both breasts simultaneously. Also ensure, you have chosen the right fitting flange to prevent nipple damage & discomfort while pumping.
The best time to pump: Choose a breast pumping time that works best for you and your baby. Some mothers find it helpful to breast pump after breastfeeding sessions when their breasts are still stimulated. Others may prefer to breast pump between feedings or during the night when the baby is asleep.
Pump on a consistent schedule: Regularity in breast pump sessions helps maintain milk supply. Establish a regular pumping routine that aligns with your baby's feeding schedule. Ideally, you should breast pump at the same time your baby would feed if you were breastfeeding directly. This helps maintain a consistent milk supply and prevents engorgement. Aim to breast pump at least 8-10 times a day in the early weeks if you're exclusively pumping. If you're combining a breast pump and breastfeeding, pumping 1-2 times a day is usually sufficient.
A proper pumping technique: Ensure you have a properly fitting breast pump & flanges to avoid discomfort or nipple damage. You may start with a low suction level and gradually increase it to a comfortable level. Massaging by hand and compressing the breasts while breast pumping can also help improve milk flow.
Incorporate Power pumping: Power breast pumping is a technique where you breast pump for shorter periods of time but more frequently, mimicking a cluster feeding pattern. This can be helpful in boosting the milk supply. Typically, you breast pump for 10-15 minutes, rest for 10 minutes, against breast pump for 10-15 minutes, and so on, for about an hour.
Storing breast milk: Follow appropriate guidelines for storing breast milk expressed from the breast pump. Use clean containers and label them with the date and time of expressing. Freshly expressed milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4-6 days, and frozen for 6-12 months, depending on the type of freezer used. Most breast pumps in the market come in handy with good quality milk containers attached to them for ease of storage. Wisely choose the breast pump with optimal storage container.
Start bottle feeding: Introduce baby to pumped milk from the breast pump in a feeding bottle whenever needed. This allows feeding the baby to any nursing individual, while you take a break or tend to other responsibilities. Choose slow-flow nipples that mimic the natural flow of breastfeeding to avoid nipple confusion.
Importance of skin-to-skin contact: Continue to prioritize skin-to-skin contact and direct breastfeeding whenever possible in between breast pump sessions. This helps to maintain bonding between the mother & baby and also stimulates breast milk production. Do not rely solely on breast pump unless necessary.
Seek medical support: Reach out to a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding support group for guidance and assistance on pumping using a breast pump. They can provide personalized advice based on your specific needs and challenges.
The bottom line: Remember, every mother and baby are unique, and so is the quantity of milk & feeding pattern. What works for one may not work for another. It's essential to find a strategic routine that suits both the mother's and baby's needs and to be flexible as you navigate the combination of breastfeeding and breast pumping.