Last Updated on April 13, 2023 by Avi Steen
Are you a new mom trying to manage breastfeeding and pumping? You may be overwhelmed- so much conflicting information is out there! Luckily, with the right strategy and advice, it’s possible to combine these two activities successfully. In this blog post, I’ll explain what you need to know about breastfeeding and pumping, provide sample schedules for each stage of your baby’s life, and share some hard-earned tips for maximizing milk production. Read on for everything you need to nail that juggling act between nursing and pumping like a pro!
My Breastfeeding Journey
I’ve been through postpartum and breastfeeding three times.
With my first breastfeeding journey, I pumped and breastfed for eight months. I had a lactation consultant on board for the first six weeks before returning to work. I previously worked from home and continued with that job so I could still nurse and have my mother-in-law, who would watch my daughter, use bottles when necessary.
My daughter self-weaned due to my pregnancy with my second child.
In the second postpartum journey, I used a breast pump and breastfed my daughter for about 13-14 months. In my second journey, I mostly used a silicone hands-free breast pump like the Elvie Curve.
My third postpartum journey has been completely different. I have mostly used my Haakaa silicone pump for breast pumping in the first few months postpartum. Otherwise, I have been exclusively breastfeeding my
son (is it a boy thing?) for now ten months.
So, I’m still breastfeeding him without pumping and have maintained a good milk supply because of what I established in my milk production in the first couple of months.
Why Combination Feeding?
So, why combine breastfeeding and pumping? Is it to gain more milk? To establish a good milk supply? Or even to transition into bottle feeding so you can return to work?
It could be all of these things.
Specifically, combo feeding is defined as when you latch your baby directly to the breast and supplement with expressed breast milk (or formula) in a bottle. It can be a great way to increase milk supply, especially if you are returning to work or have other commitments that make it difficult to nurse exclusively. You may also choose combo feeding if you want more help from your partner in feeding the baby.
Reasons Moms Choose to Breastfeed and Pump
No two moms are the same, and neither are their breastfeeding journeys. While some mothers did not feel comfortable with the idea of breastfeeding, others took to it immediately.
For an array of reasons, some women choose to nurse and pump.
To Increase Breast Milk Supply
Breast milk is the ideal nutrition for a newborn baby, providing all the necessary nutrients such as protein, minerals, and vitamins. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first year of a baby’s life is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Pumping may assist mothers with low milk production or who struggle with latching issues. Breastfeeding helps produce more milk, enhancing the supply of breast milk for the baby.
Help From Your Spouse
Breastfeeding is a time-consuming task that keeps moms away from daily chores or formal work. Breastfeeding can, especially when caring for multiples, be a whole-family effort, and having an understanding, flexible partner can make all the difference.
Spouses may offer mom a break or get up with the baby during the night, which moms will appreciate on an emotional, physical, and mental level.
Returning to Work
Moms have varying maternity leave policies; some moms may have as little as six weeks, while others have nine months or more. For mothers who choose to conquer a professional career while also being a mama, pumping is a popular option.
Pumping at work helps mothers continue providing breast milk and bonding with their infant long after the maternity leave period ends.
Breast milk is free, making it one of the most economical feeding options. Plus, mothers can even donate excess milk to milk banks, which helps other mothers who cannot produce enough milk.
Steps to Combining Breastfeeding and Pumping Breast Milk
Choose Your Breast Pump
In order to start pumping or bottle feeding with breast milk, you’ll need a pump that fits you and your lifestyle. Pumping sessions can be much easier with the right type of pump.
Double Breast Pump
I’ve used these double breast pumps in my personal journey with my pumping sessions. Personally, I preferred the Motif, especially when adding toddlers to the mix. It’s a hands-free alternative to the larger Spectra pump and the Motif has great suction strength without the hassle of an outlet and pump parts.
Other Breast Pumps
On the other hand, hands-free and manual pumps have been game changers for getting freshly expressed milk for my breastfed baby. The Haakaa and Elvie Curve, specifically, are both beneficial for a pumping session where you are also simultaneously feeding the baby.
Breastfeed on Demand With Your Baby
The best way to establish and maintain your milk supply is to breastfeed on demand.
Maintaining a nursing/pumping schedule allows you to get into a routine that works best for both you and your baby.
Feeding frequently will help you produce more milk and ensure a healthy supply for your baby.
Personally, I feed my baby on demand without a specific schedule as a stay-at-home mom. While this is not the case for all moms, you can still look at baby cues for when they are hungry such as a cry that sounds like “nahh”, a closed fist, putting fingers in their mouths, etc.
Sample Feeding and Pumping Schedule
Now, let’s talk about an example schedule if you choose to do combo feeding. Remember, this is only an example. This may or may not fit your schedule according to your baby’s age and other factors:
6 am- Breastfeed + Pump
8 am- Bottle feed with pumped milk
10 am- Breastfeed + Pump
12 pm- Bottle feed with pumped milk
2 pm- Breastfeed + Pump
4 pm- Bottle feed with pumped milk
6 pm- Breastfeed
8 pm- Pump
10 pm- Dream feed + Pump
Tips For Maximizing Milk Flow
Combination feeding can be a great way to get extra milk and ensure you have enough breast milk for your baby when you are away from them. Whether through a pumping session to fill up those milk storage bags or breastfeeding sessions to bond with baby, here are some tips for maximizing your milk flow:
Nurse and Pump Frequently
Make sure to nurse as often as possible. This means nursing on demand, every 2-3 hours during the day and at least once at night.
Also, increase your amount of pumping sessions. Aim for 4-5 times in a 24-hour period.
Stay Hydrated and Eat Well
It is very important to stay hydrated while breastfeeding or pumping in order to have enough milk. Make sure to increase your water intake as well as your calories. Research states you should be consuming 500 additional calories per day while breastfeeding.
You can do a breast massage before and during pumping or nursing to help stimulate the milk supply. You can use your hands and hot compresses.
Having skin-to-skin contact with your baby can help to stimulate your milk supply and make breastfeeding more successful. Skin-to-skin is a hormonal boost for you and your baby.
Breastfeeding is a personal choice that moms make, considering their unique situations. Nevertheless, understanding why many women choose to continue breastfeeding and add pumping can help other mothers on their own journeys.
Breast milk is nutrient-rich, and staying flexible with pumping and latching can help new moms in the transition from pregnancy to motherhood.
Encouraging a supportive partner and flexible work arrangements can ensure that mothers get the support they need to make breastfeeding an enjoyable and viable option.
Octavia Steen is an NBDA certified fertility doula, health coach, certified fitness nutrition specialist, aspiring missionary with the COGIC, and owner of Mother Mindset. She helps future and current mamas become more consistent in faith + fitness and grow closer to God so they can create a healthier lifestyle from the inside out!