The Best Breastfeeding And Pumping Schedule For New Moms
Choosing to breastfeed is one of the best decisions you can make, but it’s a big commitment that can be challenging, especially for new mothers. Breast milk has essential nutrients to help your baby grow, is easier on their sensitive stomachs, and contains immune-boosting antibodies that can help your child fight off colds and viruses.
While nursing your child is the typical option, some women will need to pump if returning to work. You may also want to pump to increase your milk supply or to freeze milk for later use. To help you, here are tips for creating a breastfeeding and pumping schedule as well as tips for pumping and nursing in general.
Scheduling Feeding And Pumping Times
In general, most experts recommend nursing your newborn on-demand. This means that you simply feed your child when they seem to be hungry no matter what time it is or how much time has passed since their last feeding. That being said, in the first weeks after birth newborns will typically need to be feed every two hours. If you notice that your baby isn’t showing hunger cues two to three hours after a feeding, make sure to feed them anyways so they put on the proper weight during their first few weeks of life. Hunger cues include sucking motions with their mouth, restlessness, and stirring.
When nursing your baby, start with one breast and allow your child to nurse for about 20 minutes or until your breast softens noticeably. This time will vary so take your cue from your baby. If they detach from the breast earlier, try burping them and putting them back to the breast. If they don’t take to that breast, switch to the other breast following the same method. As long as your baby is hungry, they’ll latch and suckle. If they don’t take the second breast, start with that breast during your next feeding.
It’s best to pump after your baby is finished nursing. This will help stimulate more milk production and will also help you from getting engorged if your baby had a shorter than normal nursing session. Each pumping session should last 20 minutes per breast. The amount of milk you get during each pumping can vary depending on how much your baby ate during their nursing session.
If you’re pumping outside of the home, it’s important to stick to a schedule. Set an alarm to make sure that you pump every two to three hours. This is as close to a nursing schedule as possible since most babies naturally get hungry every two hours, as previously stated. If you notice that you’re getting too engorged before the two or three hours pass, you may have to shift your pumping schedule to accommodate your needs.
Tips For Pumping Milk
Pumping can be tiresome and some mothers may even give up on the idea altogether. To help you weather the storm, here are some tips for successful pumping.
- Keep To A Routine
It’s important to keep to a routine so your body can naturally adjust to your pumping schedule. Try to nurse in the same place each time so you relate that place with letting down your milk. Make sure you have your pump ready in time and that it’s set in the same fashion each time.
- Massage Breasts Prior To Pumping
Before you start pumping, massage your breasts gently. Use the opposite hand for each breast using only your fingertips in a circular motion. Start at your armpit and work your way around the entire breast down to the areola. Once done, use long strokes from the top of your breast down toward the nipple. This helps stimulate milk production.
- Prepare Yourself Before Pumping
Drink a few glasses of water before you start to pump. You should also try to picture flowing liquid like streams or rivers. This will actually help you eject milk. Similarly, looking at a picture of your baby or calling home to check in on your baby can help your eject reflex, too. Smelling something of theirs (blanket, clothing) can also help.
- Use Headphones To Listen To Music
It’s important to minimize distractions when you pump so your body can do what it’s naturally meant to do. By shutting out the outside world with headphones and your favorite music, you can create a relaxing atmosphere that will help you pump more milk. You may also choose to listen to other things like ocean waves, falling rain, or similar nature sounds.
- Maintain Your Pump Properly
In order to pump successfully, you have to make sure that your equipment is always in the best working condition. Clean the pump, tubes, and accessories for your pump regularly and make sure that the seal is always functioning properly. Replace pieces that need to be replaced. If your pump runs on batteries, make sure that they are fresh so your pump works properly.
Tips For Successfully Nursing A Child
While directly breastfeeding a child is more natural and requires less preparation, there are still some tips and tricks that can help you.
Any stress will naturally hinder the release of milk. Make sure that your feeding sessions are as stress-free as possible.
- Keep Baby Close At Night
It’s best to let your child sleep in your room for at least six months after they’re born if you’re nursing. By having your baby in a cradle next to your bed or at least in the same room, feeding them at night will be a lot easier.
- Limit Or Avoid Formula
If you chose to nurse you might not use formula at all, but some families choose to do both. If you are supplementing with formula, you should try to use it as little as possible in order to keep your milk supply up. Too much formula will fill up your baby and may make them reject your milk
- Increase Fluids
Staying hydrated is important while breastfeeding. Water, milk, and natural juices (watch for sugary juices) can help but stay away from caffeinated drinks as much as possible. In general, one or two cups of coffee a day won’t have any harmful effects but soda should be avoided
- Take Care Of Yourself
Taking good care of yourself is the most important thing you can do to successfully nurse your child. Stop smoking if you do, eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, and make sure you get plenty of sleep.
A breastfeeding and pumping schedule can help you early on in your nursing journey but remember to always let your baby take the lead. If they want to nurse more often, let them. The more you feed and pump the more milk you’ll produce. This will make the whole process much easier and help you from getting frustrated and discouraged. If you run into trouble with your supply or need some encouragement, reach out to a lactation consultant or your doctor.