How to balance breastfeeding and pumping
Whether you are going back to work, you want to go out for longer or your nipples are sore, pumping will be beneficial to you and your baby. However, at times it might be stressful. Looking after and breastfeeding your baby is already challenging (especially in those early weeks) so the idea of squeezing time for expressing can sound impossible. Don’t worry if all of it seems overwhelming; most of the women feel the same way so you are not alone.
To give you some comfort and peace of mind, I prepared a list of tips on how to balance breastfeeding and pumping.
1. Always pump in the mornings
Many midwives and other mums recommend pumping in the morning as your milk supply will be at its highest- you can tell by the feeling of fuller breasts. Since on that time of a day you are well rested (or should be), your body has more energy to produce milk than in the evenings.
2. Make sure you are not stressed out
It’s important to stay relaxed during pumping, otherwise your milk supply will drop. It usually takes a little while for your milk to start flowing. So if you feel like your child is not letting you relax, ask your partner to take over and go to the other room for the ‘expressing session’ (any excuse to get 20 min for yourself is great).
If you find yourself stressed out for any other reason (and there might be thousands of them for a fresh mother) you can simply listen to music or meditate.
3. Pump after breastfeeding your baby
Experts recommend delaying first pumping until about two weeks after birth, or when your milk supply is established.
When you decide its time to use the pump you should nurse your baby first and pump afterwards.
Waiting about 30 minutes after you’re done with breastfeeding can help as well as that’s roughly the amount of time your body needs to start producing ‘new’ milk.
4. Create a schedule but keep breastfeeding on demand
It’s always a good idea to pump according to a schedule however you should not forget to breastfeed on demand, meaning whenever (and wherever) your baby needs to. What you could do, for example, is to nurse your baby from one breast while pumping from the other.
If you want to be economic you could buy these breast shells that collect the milk when your breasts are leaking during feeding and the rest of the day. They also protect sore nipples and help with relieving engorgement.
5. Choose the right pump
Having the right gear is essential if you want your pumping routine to be a success. I strongly suggest going for an electric pump rather than the manual- even though the price of electric ones are much higher. In this case, there’s no reason to save money as using manual pump can make you go mad (unless you are a very patient person). It’s twice as slower and your hands will be sore before you even finish.
Medela swing is so far one of the bests on the market. You can ask other mums around or just read different forums where Medela wins over Avent Phillips or Tommy Tippee. You will also see Medela brand being promoted in many series and movies (especially American) that involve mums and newborns. It’s fairly easy to set up, washes well (both in hands and in the dishwasher), has different levels of suction and its portable if you use the batteries. And yes, you will pay the higher price but you can be sure that, if you will use it frequently, it is worth the investment.
Don’t try to save money and go for a single pump- double will express much more milk in a shorter time (and time IS money, you can probably feel it now more than ever). What is also invaluable when pumping from both breasts is having hands-free pumping/ nursing bra. It will allow you to express the milk with less hassle, without the need of holding the bottles for 15 min (making it a little less boring as you can enjoy your coffee or see what you’ve been missing out on Facebook).
6. Stock up your freezer
Remember the expressed milk you give to your baby should always be fresh and its best to use within 48 hours. According to NHS website, if you keep in on the back of the fridge in the temperature of 4 degrees (or lower), it can stay there for up to 5 days. The excess of milk you are not planning to use should be kept in a freezer in special bags (for maximum of 6 months), just remember to label and date it first. This way in the future you will know which bag you should defrost first.
7. Don’t be too hard on yourself
The amount you express will vary, some women will have it more consistent, some less and it often changes over time.
You should not be upset with yourself if the amount you pump is not what you expected; try not compare yourself with other mums and stay positive.
A tip for mummies who happen to be physically away from their baby: looking at the pictures of your little one often helps to express more milk.