I’m trying to figure out our plan of attack for breastfeeding, and would like some suggestions on how soon can I start pumping? I’d like to prepared with a plan (though I know it might not go to plan) but would like my partner and I to share the care of our new baby. So I’d like to start pumping so Dad can have breast milk for feeds.
I’m a little scared about being solely responsible for baby’s feeding for those first months! Is that really my only option? How do you get any sleep?
It’s great that you are thinking ahead like this before the arrival of your new baby, and please be assured that everything will be ok! And yes, good that you know it might not go quite as you planned. Also I’m sorry to say, but your sleep won’t be quite the same for a while.
It’s a great idea to share feeding with Dad, though it is a little more work than simply breastfeeding. I usually suggest you start this at around the 6 weeks mark. In the first 6 weeks with your newborn your milk flow needs to adjust, and you’ll have days of engorgement, and establishing supply and breastfeeding – so I don’t recommend you start pumping during that time. Or pumping only a tiny bit to relieve any breast engorgement that you might get (you’ll feel like you have massive breasts and will want to relieve them a little bit – which is ok but don’t pump much milk on those days otherwise your body will think baby is drinking all that milk and will make more the following day, resulting in a cycle of more engorgement). During those first 6 weeks life will be a blur of feeding, nappy changing, and sleeping where you can.
At around the 6 week mark, I suggest you try pumping if thats the direction you want to take. The simplest way to share feeding, is to pump enough milk to provide for one bottle per day. Then Dad could do the late night feed, eg 11pm, while you go to bed early to have a longer stretch of sleep. It could be unrealistic to expect to be able to share more than one feed with him – unless you have a really good supply/flow/time to pump, or unless you are pumping instead of feeding at breast..
So a great way to do this, either in the day – breastfeed bubs at boob and when he/she has finished, you could pump any remaining milk. You might only get a small amount at first (eg 10 mL) but if you repeat this a couple of times per day after breastfeeding, you’ll build up enough for the evening feed. If you do this on a cycle at the same times each day, your body will think baby is needing all that milk at feeds at those times, and make enough supply, and the amount your body makes will increase a little bit every day (amazing ay!)
It’s often better to do this type of pumping (after breastfeeding) in the morning. As mums often find they have more milk in the morning. Whereas in the afternoon you’ll be tired and won’t really pump as much milk. So that means it might take a couple of days of morning pumping sessions, to be able to have enough milk to do a shared bottle with Dad.
I would suggest you try doing this a week or so before you plan to introduce the bottle. So it’s more like preparing a stash first, and then when you have enough you can pass it over for dad to use.
Its good to introduce the bottle at around the 6 week mark. In my experience with lots of mums, if they leave it to 3 months or even 6 months, then the baby gets smarter and that’s when they reject teats etc and it can be a really stressful time with baby not feeding.
I’d also recommend a teat that baby has to work at using – the same way as breastfeeding. Not a “lazy teat” where the milk just drips out. I’d recommend the chuchu teat or the Universal Narrow Neck teat. Baby has to work and suck at these to get the milk.
If you need a breast pump, I’m also happy to help you with that. For this type of feeding situation, I’d recommend an electric pump. An Unimom Allegro would be good, or if you wanted to be a bit quicker then the double Unimom Minuet breast pump (which is also small enough that you can be mobile using a hands-free pumping bra and not stuck on the couch).