Top 10 Tips for Combining Breastfeeding and Pumping

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If you have a reduced milk supply or just need some extra bottled milk, you’re probably wondering how to combine breastfeeding and pumping successfully.

I will explain why combining breastfeeding and pumping is a good idea and share 10 tips if you do decide to try it. I will also list the possible downsides of combining them.

Combining Breastfeeding and Pumping

What’s The Rule of Thumb?

The rule of thumb is pumping for 15 minutes every couple of hours during weekdays if you’re a full-time mom. Also, if possible, pump both breasts simultaneously because double breast pumps help induce milk production while reducing pumping time by half.

I will also provide a sample breastfeeding and pumping schedule for newborns and share tips on how to store your breast milk supply properly further, so let’s begin!

Why Combine Breastfeeding and Pumping?

Combining nursing and pumping comes with many advantages and some downsides. So, let’s take a closer look at both, starting with the benefits and deciding if it’s the right idea for you.

Increasing Milk Supply

In case you didn’t know, breast milk production works on supply and demand. Meaning that the more milk is taken out, the more your body can potentially produce. 

Combining Breastfeeding and Pumping

Therefore, if you’re trying to increase your breast milk supply, combining breastfeeding and pumping can certainly help! You can also use a double breast pump or try power pumping for even better results.

Helping with Discomfort

Clearing milk out of your breasts can help with clogged ducts as well as mastitis, which is inflammation of breast tissue.

Extra Milk for Bottle-Feeding

Extra breast milk for bottle-feeding is always welcome, especially if you need to be away from your little one for long periods.

If you decide to combine breastfeeding and pumping, you can also start building a breast milk stash 3 weeks before your start day at work if you’re a working mom.

Breastfeeding Challenges

If your little one has difficulties latching or consuming enough milk from your breast alone, it can be very helpful to have some additional on hand to follow up breastfeeding with a milk bottle.

Possible Downsides

When Can I Start Combined Feeding?

I suggest that you combine them once breastfeeding is fully established and going smoothly. This takes about 6-8 weeks after birth. However, it can be different for everyone.

Some moms will prefer to combine breastfeeding and pumping from birth, which is safe. However, it can make breastfeeding harder in the first weeks if your baby is also bottle-fed.

If you’re worried about your baby’s health, ask for help from a lactation consultant and create a feeding plan to make sure your baby’s getting enough milk.

How to Combine Breastfeeding and Pumping

Combining Breastfeeding and Pumping

If you’re interested in combining breastfeeding and pumping, the following tips can help you maintain a steady milk supply and stay organized throughout the whole process.

Always Breastfeed First

I suggest that you pump after breastfeeding. That way, your baby can have their dose first, and you will be collecting leftovers. Your breasts will have enough time to refill before the next feed.

However, note that pumping will never replace the special connection that happens when you breastfeed your baby. Also, breastfeeding increases production during your pumping. Therefore, go ahead and enjoy it as your schedule allows.

Put Your Hands to Use

Using your hands can help to enhance the amount of milk you obtain from your breasts during your pumping session and improve your milk flow. You can also massage your breasts and boost the production of milk your body provides in the future.

Provide Storage

You can either use a silicone breast pump or some other milk storage container to store the milk leaking from your breasts your baby isn’t currently using, so this milk isn’t lost before you pump.

Choose The Right Fit

Make sure to check the flanges of your breast pump before pumping to see if they fit properly. This can help stop damage to your nipples as well as discomfort while pumping.

Keep Everything Handy

I suggest that you place a couple of baskets around your home near your usual breastfeeding spots that hold a water bottle, nipple cream, snacks, wipes, burp cloths, and diapers. That way, you don’t have to get up to search for these products once you start breastfeeding or pumping.

Learn Some Bottle-Feeding Techniques

Combining Breastfeeding and Pumping

I recommend that you use the paced bottle feeding technique to help ensure that your little one is more likely to continue breastfeeding. A study also showed that this technique can help to prevent respiratory as well as ear issues.

Warm-Up!

If you’re having trouble adjusting your breasts to the pump, consider applying something warm on your chest first and watching videos of your baby during your pumping sessions. That way, you will produce more milk in your next pumping session.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Stay hydrated with water, milk, and juices, and avoid coffee, soda, and other caffeinated beverages. Too much caffeine might cause irritability in you as well as your child and interfere with their sleep. Further, if you decide to have a glass of wine, avoid breastfeeding for 2 hours afterward.

Don’t Smoke

I would also suggest quitting smoking because it can decrease your milk supply. It can also alter the taste of your milk and interfere with your little one’s sleep.

Secondhand smoke is also a problem. It can boost the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and respiratory diseases.

Self-Care Matters!

If you don’t take good care of yourself, you won’t be able to take good care of your baby. So, consume a healthy diet, including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Furthermore, include physical activity in your daily routine and get enough sleep! Most importantly, ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. 

You should also know that birth control pills with estrogen can interrupt your milk production. So, while you’re breastfeeding, experts suggest using condoms or other types of birth control instead.

How Many Times A Day Should I Pump While Breastfeeding?

You can pump between 8 and 10 times a day if exclusively pumping. You can do it immediately after or in between breastfeeding. Just make sure your pump flanges fit properly.

Below, I’ve provided a sample schedule for newborns that you can follow or use as a template for your customized plan.

  • 5 am – breastfeeding, then pumping for about 10-15 minutes
  • 7 am – breastfeeding
  • 10 am – breastfeeding
  • 12 pm – breastfeeding, then pumping for about 10-15 minutes
  • 2 pm – breastfeeding
  • 4 pm – breastfeeding
  • 7 pm – breastfeeding
  • 9 pm – breastfeeding, then pumping for about 10-15 minutes
  • 1 am – breastfeeding

When making your own breastfeeding and pumping schedule, keep in mind that every baby is different and will eat at different intervals.

When combining breastfeeding and pumping, the main goal is to pump for about 10-15 minutes (some moms pump up to 20 minutes) after you feed your baby about 3 times a day.

Is it OK to Pump Once A Day While Breastfeeding?

If you’re new to pumping, start by pumping once a day to start storing breast milk. Most moms find that they’re able to pump more breast milk in the morning because the supply tends to be larger at that time of day.

Also, pumping before feeding will provide more volume. However, this volume can consist of more watery foremilk, which contains less fat.

How Long Should You Wait Between Pumping and Nursing?

You can either pump 30-60 minutes after breastfeeding or about 1 hour before. That way, your baby will get enough milk at your next feeding. However, if your little one wants to breastfeed right after pumping, allow it!

How to Store Breast Milk for Future Use Properly

Combining Breastfeeding and Pumping

The following tips can help you handle and store your supplies properly if you’re pumping and storing your milk for further use.

  • Label your storage bags and use the oldest ones first.
  • Keep your bag ounces low because once you thaw milk, you can’t refreeze it. So keep the amount of milk aligned with how much your baby needs per feeding. I used to store about 4 ounces or less.
  • Don’t mix fresh milk with frozen. Instead, put your freshly pumped milk in the fridge to cool down before adding it to a freezer bag. You can still mix milk pumped on the same day but don’t mix liquid milk with frozen milk. Otherwise, your new milk will thaw the frozen one.

Balance Matters!

Many moms decide to breastfeed their newborns because it is the perfect way to feed their babies and establish a strong bond at the same time. 

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a newborn’s life. But sadly, The Centers for Disease Control discovered that only about 25% of infants are exclusively breastfed at 6 months.

However, it’s also important to mention that pumping can also encourage longer breastfeeding by keeping milk supplies. It can also make your life as a mom easier!

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