Once you and your little have gotten off to a good start breastfeeding, you may decide you want to start expressing / pumping.
A lot of mums think they need to start pumping in order to maintain strong milk supply - but don’t feel pressured. Breastfeeding your baby on demand is the best way to maintain milk supply. If your baby is gaining weight and has enough wet and dirty diapers, you don’t need to worry about adding pumping to your breastfeeding routine.
However, there are a lot of great reasons to start breast pumping: to create a stash for returning to work, girls’ night, date night, a trip to the spa… but we digress. You can also add pumping sessions to give your supply a boost if you feel like it’s starting to slip. Trying to work pumping into your day can be a little daunting at first, but here are some suggestions to get you started.
When is the best time to pump?
1) Right after breastfeeding.
If baby has just fed and is full and happy (or even better – sleeping!), but your breasts don’t feel empty, adding a pumping session can increase your milk production over time. Why? Your body is pretty amazing. Over the first 6-12 weeks, it’s working to regulate your milk supply so you have just the right amount baby needs. If there’s milk left in the breast after a feed, your body thinks it’s made too much and will start to produce a little less. If you want to have extra milk or increase your supply, expressing milk after breastfeeding will signal to your body that this milk is needed, and it will continue to make more.
Isn’t more milk always better? Not necessarily. Regulating your supply to the amount baby needs is a good thing because it means relief from the discomfort of engorgement or from waking up with milk-soaked pyjamas for your entire breastfeeding journey. And while it may not seem like it at the beginning, eventually baby WILL start to sleep for longer stretches at night- and you will, too! Oversupply can also lead to challenges like plugged ducts. So start slowly and adjust your pumping routine to tell your body how much milk you want to make.
2) 30 minutes after breastfeeding.
If you’ve tried pumping right after breastfeeding but weren’t able to express, try waiting about 30 minutes after a feed. This gives your body time to replenish before pumping, but also gives you time to replenish again before your next breastfeeding session. Try to plan for at least an hour between the end of your pumping session and baby’s next feed.
3) Early in the morning.
Many mums find that their milk supply is much stronger in the morning and have more luck adding pumping sessions early in the day.
Find what works for you.
Every mum is different. Some mums like to use a double electric breast pump to pump after breastfeeding. Some like to pump on one side while feeding on the other. Others prefer to add a breastmilk collector to their routine to help with milk supply. It may take some experimenting to find what works for you and your baby, but many mums appreciate the security that comes with a little extra milk on hand.