I’ve noticed a trend among families coming home from the hospital with their baby. They tell me that they have been advised to use a breast pump between feedings in an attempt to increase milk supply. Although I believe hospitals mean well by giving this advice, I’m not so sure it is helping get things off to a good start for the families I serve. My mommas are already super overwhelmed with all the new changes, adding the pump from day one, is too much for them. The pump can wait for a little bit if the baby is actively feeding at the breast and there are no supply issues.
For starters, the pump is an additional thing to learn to use and keep clean. It can cause unnecessary engorgement, and it adds to the total chaos you will encounter when you get home. It’s a recipe for an exhausted mom to lose her mind and just one more thing she has to think about while trying to adjust to the baby’s needs and her changing body. The pump is not necessary to increase supply those first few weeks, but your baby is!
Babies will nurse every 1.5-2 hours when you first bring them home, around the clock. That’s right. Using your baby instead of the pump allows you and your baby valuable time to practice, increases your milk supply and allows your baby to gain weight from all the feedings you’ll be providing. Your pediatrician will be impressed with all your hard work and so will you.
For all of my mommas out there who love a schedule, start with the 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your baby’s hunger cues. Set an alarm to help you remember and try to rest/sleep in between. Visitors and thank you cards can wait! You can feed on demand for the first few weeks and introduce a schedule later or you can start right out of the gate on the 1.5 to 2-hour. Over time, you will be able to increase those intervals as baby gets bigger and their stomach capacity holds more volume. I’ve heard other mommas discourage a schedule when it pertains to breastfeeding. I can tell you it’s really a personal preference (and a choice) whether to schedule a baby or feed on demand. I have had clients successfully breastfeed on a schedule; it is achievable and desirable for families who prefer regimen, keep in mind your baby will want to eat every about every two hour in the begining. I have also had clients choose to feed on demand and that works too. It’s totally up to you.
There are always exceptions to the rule, so if your baby isn’t gaining weight or is really fussy during those early days, a weight check and a latch check should be done to make sure your milk is coming in like it should and your baby is transferring your milk. If it’s not, don’t worry! There are plenty of resources available to you.
The first three weeks are the most crucial for obtaining and sustaining a good milk supply. Feeding your baby when he or she gives you the cues will be your best offense for a healthy
supply. Each time you feed your baby, your body is learning when and how much milk to make; it’s pretty magical that way. Have some patience with your body and your baby. The first two weeks are rough as you both start to get the hang of it.
If you feel like engorgement is setting in and your baby isn’t interested in nursing at that time, it’s ok to pump some of the milk off for your comfort. However, try to nurse with the baby as often as possible. Once you have established your routine with your baby, then you can start bring in the pump more often. Take it day by day, sometimes even hour by hour.
Remember there is more than one “right” way so if you find
something that works for you, own that! At the end of the day, you’re the momma and your way is the right way.