How to Combine Breastfeeding and Pumping
How to combine breastfeeding and pumping
Breastfeeding is the best food for your baby at least until he is 6 months old. Many parents continue to breastfeed their kids intermittently till they turn 2 years old, as well. However, exclusive breastfeeding is mandatory for babies up to 6 months old, if the mother and the baby have no problems to nurse.
Though many mothers want to breastfeed their babies for as long as they can, they cannot do so due to various reasons such as going back to work, reduction in milk supply, medical complications and more.
If you want your baby to get all the nutrients of your milk without you having to nurse him, the best way to do that is to strike the right balance between breastfeeding and pumping at regular intervals.
Here, we will give you a brief overview of how you can breastfeed and pump alternatively, by following a few simple but effective tips.
When should you Consider Pumping along with Breastfeeding?
There are three main instances when you may want to limit direct nursing of your baby and resort to feeding him pumped milk. They are:
- When you want to get back to work quicker than most mothers
- When your baby is not able to latch on to your breast properly or when he has certain medical conditions that make it tough for him to suck from your breast for a long time; you may also have certain medical conditions such as soreness of nipples, mastitis, engorgement of breasts, etc. that make nursing a painful procedure for you
- When you want to introduce bottle-feeds to your baby who has been exclusively breastfed
Here are a few things that you have to keep in mind when you try to combine pumping and breastfeeding in your routine:
1. Be very patient
Your baby can get confused between your nipple and the bottle’s nipple when you try to introduce bottle-feeds too quickly. When this happens, you will notice that your baby would like to drink only from one source – either your breast or the bottle. If you try to feed him from the source he doesn’t like, he is not going to drink his milk at all.
So, you should introduce bottle-feeds to him very gradually. Wait until a month or so of exclusive breastfeeding before you introduce a bottle of pumped milk.
Ensure that you give him the pumped milk when your baby is feeling relaxed and in a happy mood. Never make the mistake of giving him the bottle feed when he is already hungry or in a cranky mood. This will make him hate the bottle more.
2. Prepare your body and your baby well by fixing a routine
When you want to get back to work next month, don’t wait until the last day of your maternity leave to introduce a bottle feed to your baby. You should have introduced the bottle at least 15 days or 1 month before you join work so that your breasts get adjusted to the pumping and nursing routine.
You can fix specific routines, wherein you can get your baby to drink the pumped milk from the bottle when you are away during the day and nurse from your breast directly during the night. This will eliminate the problem of nipple confusion among babies as well.
3. Get the support of your family members
Thanks to the emotional bonding that develops between a mother and child during every breastfeeding session, a baby recognizes his mother’s presence quite early. Therefore, when you try feeding him the pumped milk, he may refuse to drink it, because he would always prefer to drink from you directly.
To avoid this problem, you can get the support of your partner/ husband, parents or other family members to take turns to bottle feed the baby. This way, the baby will not crave for your physical presence, and it also helps the baby to recognize people quicker than before.
Getting the Timing Right
One of the first questions in your mind would be how to time your pumping sessions when you are already following a breastfeeding routine. Here are simple tips that will give you answers to this question:
You have to pump your milk about 15 to 20 minutes after breastfeeding; this will not only increase your baby’s demand for milk but also increase the supply of milk produced in your body.
You have to ensure that there is a gap of at least one hour between your pumping and nursing sessions. This is for your baby to have enough milk when he feeds from your breasts next. As long as you can manage your baby feels satisfied after his feed, you can work out your pumping schedule easily.
Also, it is important not to stress yourself too much by comparing the volume of breast milk that your able to pump after breastfeeding with the volume that is mentioned on the internet or what other new mothers tell you. Each woman’s body is different, and having a relaxed mindset while pumping will help you combine breastfeeding and pumping successfully.
Simultaneous Pumping and Breastfeeding
Sometimes, a few new mothers don’t have enough time to plan their pumping and breastfeeding schedules. You can also do this when you have more than one baby to nurse or when you have don’t want to spend a lot of time in chalking out a schedule in nursing.
So, the best thing you can do in this case is to do both at the same time. If you thought this could be a taxing process, you are mistaken. Here is why:
When you are nursing your baby on one breast, you can pump milk from the other breast for best results. When you feed your baby, your milk supply is naturally quite high, as a result of which you will find a good flow in the pump’s container as well.
When your baby sucks on to your nipple, it helps to increase the hormone of oxytocin, which is the one responsible for the milk secretion in your breast. Sit comfortably in a place where you can help your baby latch on to one of your breasts leisurely, while you attach a pump to the other breast to get enough milk for your baby’s next feed.
You can also resort to doing both these processes simultaneously at a particular time when your body’s milk supply is at the highest. For some women, milk supply is the highest during the night, while for some, the flow is the highest early in the mornings. You are the best judge of your body.
Storing/mixing Breastmilk and Pumped Milk
Once you have mastered the art of combining your breastfeeding and pumping schedules, you should learn how to make use of the collected milk.
You should store the pumped milk in neat packets with the date & time of collection so that you can use them in the order of the earliest collection date. Pumped milk stays good for 8 days when it is refrigerated and for about 3 months when it is frozen properly.
Can Milk Collected from Different Pumping Schedules be Combined?
We already told you that you have to store the pumped breast milk in small packets with the collection date and time. You should choose small 2-ounce packets because that’s the amount that is needed for your baby’s feed per session.
- If you want to mix the milk that has been pumped at different schedules, you should only mix milk that has been collected with a very little time gap between the schedules. For example, you can mix the fresh milk that you have pumped in the evening with the refrigerated milk that you collected in the morning. Before mixing the fresh milk with the cool milk in the fridge, you should always cool it and then mix it with the already stored milk.
- Freshly pumped breast milk will remain good for about 4 hours at room temperature. So, when you have any milk unused for a longer time than this in the open, you need to discard it at the earliest.
- Storing the milk neatly in small packets with the time and date of collection help you to understand which packet you should take for every feed. When you have stored milk that has been lying in the refrigerator for more than 5 to 8 days, you should throw it away. If you don’t plan to use the pumped milk anytime soon, ensure that you put the packet in the freezer immediately for a long shelf life.
In short, as a new mother, you need to lead a healthy lifestyle and give up alcohol & smoking at all costs if you want to produce enough milk for your baby. When you know the art of balancing your pumping & breastfeeding schedules, you don’t have to worry about being physically near your baby to give him the nutrients he requires for his overall development.
You can resume your work with the confidence that your baby’s needs are met with your milk, despite being far away from him. Drink a lot of water, stay relaxed and maintain a positive outlook, so that your body adjusts to your baby’s needs automatically.