Peanut butter and jelly. Movies and popcorn. Shoes and socks. Some of the best things in life come in combos. But what about breastfeeding and pumping?
If your milk supply is low or you just need some extra expressed milk for bottles, you may be wondering how to combine breastfeeding and pumping, if it will increase your supply, or if there are any downsides to it.
Have no fear: We’ve got answers! Plus we have some tips if you do decide to try breastfeeding and pumping.
There are many reasons you might choose to do a combination of breastfeeding and pumping. A few common ones include:
- Increasing your milk supply. Breast milk production generally works on supply and demand. The more milk is drawn out, the more milk your breasts may potentially make. If you are trying to increase your milk supply, this can be a good first step to try.
- Helping with discomfort. This involves clearing milk out of your breasts to help with clogged ducts and mastitis (inflammation of breast tissue).
- For bottles. You may want to have some breast milk for bottle feeding if you need to be away from your baby for any length of time.
- Breastfeeding difficulties. If your baby has challenges latching or drinking a sufficient amount from your breast alone, it can be helpful to have some extra milk on hand to follow up breastfeeding with a bottle.
If you’re considering combined breastfeeding and pumping, here are a few suggestions to help you get started:
- Breastfeed first. It’s generally best to pump after breastfeeding. That way your little one can have their fill first, you’ll be able to empty your breasts fully after, and your breasts will have maximum time to refill before the next feed!
- Use your hands. Hands-on pumping and hand expression can help to increase the amount of milk you get out of your breasts. Doing these things can also help increase the amount of milk your breasts produce in the future.
- Get storage. You may wish to use a Haakaa silicone breast pump or other milk storage container to collect the milk leaking from the breast your baby is not currently using, so this milk isn’t lost before you pump.
- Find the best fit. Before pumping, make sure to double-check the flanges to make sure that they fit properly. This can help prevent damage to your nipples and discomfort while you pump.
- Keep accessories handy. You may want to place a few baskets around your house near your favorite breastfeeding locations that hold a water bottle, easy-to-eat adult snacks, nipple cream, burp clothes, wipes, and diapers, so you don’t have to get up to look for these items once you start feeding and pumping.
- Learn bottle feeding techniques. Use the paced bottle feeding method to help ensure that your baby is more likely to want to continue breastfeeding. (As an added bonus, a
2018 studyshowed that this may just help to prevent respiratory and ear issues!)
- Warm up. If you’re having trouble getting your body to let down with the pump, consider placing something warm on your chest first and looking at videos of your little one while you pump.
You should speak with your doctor or your child’s pediatrician for guidance if you have any specific health concerns or if problems develop when you combine breastfeeding and pumping.
Making decisions around formula, breast milk, and pumping can feel overwhelming. Being informed can help you feel more confident in whatever choice you make.
There are many individuals and organizations that can offer you advice and resources. A few places you can reach out are:
If you find that your breast milk supply is lower than you (or your baby) would like it, a combination of breastfeeding and pumping might help. Pumping after breastfeeding sessions can also offer a way to collect breast milk for bottles when you need some extra sleep or have to be away from your baby for an extended period of time.
Schedules for breastfeeding and pumping can vary depending on many factors, so you may want to discuss your situation with a lactation consultant.
If you experience breast discomfort or find that your milk supply is at an uncomfortable level, you’ll want to talk with your doctor or a lactation professional. Their support can help to make your experience breastfeeding and pumping a more comfortable one. It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different!
You may find that you love doing a combination of breastfeeding and pumping, or you might discover just like peanut butter and jelly, it’s overrated to you. It’s OK to feel however you feel. There’s no one right answer when it comes to feeding a baby!