Hello new mamas, birthing people and support partners! Buckle up as we dive into breastfeeding and pumping!
One of the most common questions I hear during prenatal visits is "Should I bring my pump with me to the hospital?". I am an absolute proponent for self-efficiency and preparedness, BUT I also believe in simplicity. With ALL the other things that are going on during labor, delivery and postpartum, streamlining will be your best friend. You can probably leave your pump at home. Most hospitals that plan on helping you birth your baby will have hospital-grade pumps to support you while you are there.
But how do you know when to use a breast pump anyways?! Let's get to it.
When should I use a breast pump?
1) If you are separated from your baby (NICU, work, school, vacation)
2) If your baby is not feeding well at the breast, or cannot breast feed
3) If you are trying to increase your milk supply
4) If you would like to share the feeding responsibility with a partner
5) If you want to provide breastmilk without feeding at the breast (exclusive pumping)
It is recommended to wait 4-6 weeks before pumping, to avoid developing an oversupply, unless there is a medical reason to express milk, or you plan to exclusively pump. This will allow your baby to drive the milk production without other external influences. Once your milk transitions from hormone-driven to #supplyanddemand production, you can introduce pumping.
But I have to pump, now what?
Pumping while breastfeeding/chest feeding is a delicate dance. It can also be time consuming, stressful and tiring. Developing a plan with your lactation consultant can help you minimize the stress of pumping and fit it into your life. Pumps and flanges are also not "one size fits all" and it make take some trial and error to find the correct size flange, pump and pump settings that fit YOUR body. Working with someone fluent in pumps and flange fitting is a great way to set yourself up for success.
1. If you are pumping in addition to latching baby to the breast, you always want to feed the baby first, then collect what is left over.
• If your baby feeds only on one side during a nursing session, pump the other side.
• If your baby feeds on both sides during a feed, double pump 15-20 minutes after the feeding ends, or until milk stops flowing.
2. If you are pumping and feeding via an alternate method (bottle, syringe, cup) because baby is not latching or not transferring milk well, pump as often as baby is feeding.
3. If you are combination feeding (using formula and breastmilk), pump each time baby is supplemented. The goal is to remove milk from your breasts every time baby eats. This will help protect your milk supply by signaling to your body that it needs to make milk for all of those feeding times.
4. If you have a silicone pump (the kind that you suction to catch milk while you feed), always ensure your baby is fed before you attach the pump. If your baby consistently only feeds on 1 side, you can safely use the pump on the other side without "taking milk" from baby. If your baby often feeds on both sides during a breastfeeding session you would want to...
Feed baby on the right side, for example. When baby is done, switch them to the left breast and THEN attach the silicone pump to the RIGHT breast to collect the next letdown and "leftovers" in the breast. This ensures you baby is getting first dibs on the milk and you are collecting what they did not need.
One last tidbit about pumping. If you have a history of over-supply, frequent clogged ducts or mastitis, it is worth consulting an IBCLC before you introduce pumping.
Many of the breastfeeding aids that have come out (I'm looking at you, silicone pumps) can increase supply and/or cause over-supply so you should be more cautious about adding additional breast stimulation if you are already an over-producer, or in the early weeks postpartum.
Ready to begin pumping, need to be fitted for flanges or heading back to work and not sure how to pump? Jump on over to my appointment page and schedule a consult!