Breastfeeding and Pumping at the Same Time: Is It Possible?
The world is a busy place already for most people, and juggling everyday activities with motherhood isn't an easy task.
For nursing mothers who have to feed their babies and simultaneously do other things like typing, cooking, or eating, breastfeeding and pumping at the same time could very well seem like a light at the end of the tunnel.
The practice continues to gain popularity among new moms, but not without questions.
Is it even possible to do that? Will it hurt my baby or me?
How and when should I do this? Will I produce more milk? Why should I even do this?
If you've asked one or more of these questions, or any other issue at all regarding simultaneous breastfeeding and pumping, then we're here to help.
An Overview of Breast Pumping
Women pump their breasts to produce milk for different reasons.
Some women get separated from their kids at birth due to medical reasons, so they have to pump to provide milk for their newborns.
Also, some women with 9-to-5 jobs have to produce milk for their babies to feed on while they work.
However, most women who pump their breasts do so because they want their babies to have breast milk all the time despite their busy schedules.
It's fulfilling for many mothers to be able to provide breast milk for their newborns even when they're away for some time.
Breast pumping is equally a great way to get dads involved in raising their children.
They can easily feed their newborns with the milk while their partners are either resting or busy with other things.
Things to Make a Note of When Breast Pumping
Here are some vital points to learn about breast pumping:
- Most women can pump quality breast milk.
- Simultaneously pumping both breasts stimulates the release of prolactin, leading to more milk production.
- Milk production in women varies throughout the day, with the highest supply in the morning, and the lowest supply during early evenings.
- It'll take some time before you get used to breast pumping, as only a little amount of milk comes out during your first few tries.
- While pumping remains an excellent way to produce milk, your baby's mouth on your breast stimulates more milk release.
When to Start Pumping
The best time to start pumping is when you feel it's the right time to begin, and that depends a lot on your peculiar circumstance.
Some moms start pumping immediately after childbirth as a precursor to breastfeeding or to enhance milk production and flow.
It's essential to initiate breast pumping immediately if the mom is unable to breastfeed the newborn for a variety of reasons.
To establish breastfeeding, many lactation experts advise new moms to wait for a couple of weeks before pumping.
If, for example, you plan on going back to work, start pumping two weeks before then to get the hang of it.
Breastfeeding and Pumping at the Same Time
Breast pumping is common with many women, but the majority are skeptical about the benefit of pumping while breastfeeding.
So, is it possible and safe to breastfeed and pump at the same time? Absolutely yes!
It's a common worry among nursing mothers if there'd be enough for their babies to eat if they pump.
Knowing your body will always produce enough milk should keep that worry at bay.
Also, this perspective should help mothers of twin babies know that they'll always have enough milk to feed their infants at the same time.
Putting these into consideration, now you know that you can have enough milk flowing out of both breasts concurrently, and you'd never have to worry about your baby getting enough.
Breastfeeding and pumping simultaneously comes with a lot of advantages, such as:
1. Enhances Let-Down Reflex
Pumping and breastfeeding at the same time can improve your let-down reflex, which makes more milk available for storage.
Having your baby suckle at your breast stimulates the nerves at the nipples, leading to the secretion of many hormones, including prolactin and oxytocin.
While prolactin triggers more milk production, oxytocin causes the breast to release the milk by stimulating the myoepithelial cells around the alveoli, which holds the liquid.
So, if your baby feeds on one breast, and you're pumping from the other, you'll have more milk supply.
2. Saves Time
If you're a busy person, you're likely not to have enough time to breastfeed a baby and sit for another 30 minutes to pump.
If time is crucial to you, breastfeeding and pumping simultaneously will save you lots of it.
3. Mitigates Milk Wastage
Immediately, when your baby starts feeding on one breast, the other breast starts leaking.
Instead of allowing the milk to go to waste, consider making good use of it by pumping the breast while you breastfeed.
How to Do It
Efficiently breastfeeding and pumping will take some practice, and you should talk to your doctor before you begin.
If you've decided to start breastfeeding and pumping at the same time, the following tips will get you started:
1. Prepare Yourself and the Needed Items
You'll need to have the same level of preparedness or even more than you usually have during breastfeeding.
Also, you must wash your hands carefully and clean the pump thoroughly.
Put everything you'll need close to you: the breast pump, water, plastic bag (if you're using one), napkin or muslin cloth, and your phone.
You can make use of a breast pumping bra that allows you to have a free hand to use for other things.
2. Position Yourself and Your Baby Properly
Since you're going to be pumping and breastfeeding at the same time, you need to be very comfortable throughout the process.
Interestingly, being in a relaxed state stimulates the release of oxytocin; thus, enhancing your let-down reflex.
As mentioned earlier, get a good latch to minimize the discomfort you'll get while your baby feeds on the other breast.
3. Start Breastfeeding
Before you start pumping, ensure you massage your breasts well. Doing so aids milk flow.
Typically, once your little one starts feeding on one breast, milk starts trickling down from the other, so get your pump ready.
If you want your newborn to latch deeply while breastfeeding, consider taking these steps:
- Use your thumb and index finger to hold the base of your nipple gently.
- Ensure you align it right in the middle of your baby's upper lip, adjacent to the nose.
- While at it, don't press your nipple; doing so may move the baby's mouth to your breast, instead of the nipple.
- Once your newborn opens their mouth to receive from you, bring them closer, and with your thumb and index finger gently resting on your nipple, guide it into your infant's mouth.
- Once they've latched on, feel free to remove your fingers gently.
4. Start Pumping
As an overview, a breast pump is a mechanical device used by new moms to help extract milk from the breasts.
A typical breast pump has a shield that covers the breast and a container for breast milk collection.
There are two types of breast pumps: the manual and the powered breast pumps.
The manual breast pump is used by new moms who don't have to pump all the time.
It's an easy-to-use device manipulated by hand, with no electrical source.
The powered type, on the other hand, is powered by batteries or electricity and has an electric motor that pumps the breasts.
We've put together a review of the best breast pumps for 2019 to help new moms make the right buying choice.
Setting Up and Using the Pump
- Place your nipple at the center of the pump flanges.
- Lean forward slightly, without disrupting the latching position.
- Turn the pump on, and keep it at a low suction.
- Ideally, pump for about 14 to 20 minutes, with a break to allow for massaging (although a let-down will typically begin after five minutes).
- Massage the breast while pumping, it'll increase the flow.
5. Clean the Breast Pump
Your breast pump can become a breeding ground for harmful microbes, especially if left unwashed after use.
To prevent that from happening, ensure you wash the breast pump properly after use, paying particular attention to the parts that came in contact with the breast and milk.
Scrub the pump with a cleaning brush and liquid soap, and rinse under running water; air-dry and keep in a cool, dry place.
6. Store the Breast Milk
Pumping is only half the entire task: you'll need to keep the pumped breast milk properly.
Consider using the containers of most breast pumps as storage bottles for the milk or try out regular feeding bottles if the breast pump has no container.
Also, you can collect the milk in plastic bags designed for the collection of breast milk, and ensure you fill them 75 percent full in case of expansion during freezing.
Expressed breast milk can stay unaffected for four hours at room temperature if it's not exposed to any source of heat, particularly the sun.
That said, you can store small quantities, to allow for easy defrosting, of the expressed milk in the freezer for up to 12 months, although we recommend six months, and in the refrigerator for four days.
Common Mistakes Mothers Should Avoid
Although pumping and breastfeeding at the same time sound intimidating to many mothers at first, more and more nursing mothers are joining the trend.
With the advent of breast pumps, pumping has become a viable option for many breastfeeding mothers.
However, pumping and breastfeeding at the same time is not an easy task, and comes with some challenges.
If you're planning on breastfeeding and pumping simultaneously, here are common pitfalls you should avoid:
1. Not Staying Hydrated
For nursing moms, drinking enough water prevents dehydration-induced fatigue.
Breastfeeding is less effective when you're tired, so keeping a bottle of water by your side when nursing is good practice.
Drinking water isn't going to increase the amount of the milk you produce, so you don't have to worry about gulping down gallons of water.
Having some water close by while breastfeeding and pumping will remind you to stay hydrated always.
2. Bad Latching Position
We recommend that you master the art of breastfeeding and pumping separately before combining both.
The latching position or latch is how the baby fastens on to the breast during nursing, and a good latch enhances milk flow.
The latch is an essential part of breastfeeding, and so it's crucial to maintain a good latch regardless of the feeding position.
A bad latch can cause breastfeeding to become painful for the mother, with the nipples feeling sore and dry.
Here are more tips to help you achieve a good latch:
- Use a comfortable chair with a backrest, and get a stool for placing your legs.
- Use a pillow, a breastfeeding support pillow, preferably, to aid you and the baby.
- Avoid leaning on the baby and ensure the baby's tummy is at the same level as yours at all times.
- Ensure that the baby's head is slightly tilted backward.
Without a good latch, you'll experience so much discomfort while breastfeeding; you won't have the motivation to pump on the other breast.
3. Breastfeeding and Pumping All the Time
Unless you're incredibly bothered about wasting your breast milk or want to improve your milk supply, you shouldn't breastfeed and pump concurrently every time.
Doing so can lead to breast engorgement, which occurs when the breast tissues get overfilled with milk.
Hard, painful breasts with tightened flat nipples characterize this condition.
Breastfeeding and pumping at the same time help new moms to save time, improve their milk flow, and prevent milk wastage.
Also, simultaneous breastfeeding and pumping allow mothers to provide their newborns with healthy, fresh breast milk all the time, regardless of how busy their schedule might be.
We've discussed when you can start concurrent breastfeeding and pumping, and how you can go about it.
The decision to breastfeed and pump at the same time is often one that depends on the individual's peculiar situation.
Having read the above, if you feel you're personally okay with it, why not give it a go?