Wednesday 19 September 2012

How To Start Pumping So That Dad Can Feed Baby

Following on from my last post about bonding without feeding I thought I'd share some tips on pumping so that Dad can feed the baby.  I am as ever a realist and even if I think it's not what I would do, I know that many women want the Dad to feed baby from early on.  You are probably going to need to express some milk at some point for a date night or returning to work or an emergency back-up.

I would suggest waiting until your milk supply is established before you start to express your milk for the following reasons - 

  • It's important to establish a good supply in the first 4-6 weeks and the baby on-demand feeding at the breast is the best way to do this.
  • Expressing very early on can make you doubt your supply because you are expressing such small amounts (which is normal), you are pumping only left-overs and it can take time for your body to react positively to expressing by hand or pump.
  • Pumping is another chore, ask anyone that pumps.  It's not the most fun and it involves extra washing and sterilising not to mention equipment.
  • Early supplementation with donor milk or formula can affect your supply by telling your body that you don't need as much milk.  Often it is the late night feed that is supplemented in the hopes that baby will sleep longer, but you should know that baby feeds often at night because your milk making hormones are at their highest after midnight and feeding through the night helps with your supply.
A milk supply is usually established in the first 4-6 weeks and baby does this best.  It's the time when the foundations for a good long term supply are set down.  If you have decided as a family that you need to give a bottle for whatever reason then here are some things for you to consider.

  • To maintain your milk supply and exclusively breastfeed then you will need to express your milk.  If you decide to use donated breastmilk or formula for this feed then you need to understand that your body will react to one less feed at the breast by making less milk, which can in turn lead to a premature end to your breastfeeding relationship.
  • Try to wait until your milk supply is established at 4-6 weeks.
  • Work out the best way to express your milk (by hand, a manual pump, electric pump) and if needed buy an appropriate pump.
  • Find a time once a day to express milk and try to express at the same time each day so that your body gets used to the "feed" and starts making an additional feed.
  • Be patient, you will only be expressing leftovers at the beginning until your body adapts.
  • Try to feed your baby with a bottle just like you would at the breast so that he/she is held close and has more control over the flow.
Introducing a bottle works for many families, and as you can imagine it also doesn't work for others.  Mum can often go to bed a little earlier and then Dad can do the last feed of the evening.  Keep in mind that you really should be expressing when baby receives the bottle as the best time, and that if you sleep through a feed you may become a little uncomfortable and engorged which may wake you up.  Lots of partners have also gone back to work and may want to get some much needed sleep too, so again it's all about your own family balance.  I have always found it so much easier and much less time consuming to feed directly from the source at night so that I can take advantage of those lovely hormones released that help me drift back to sleep.

If you are going back to work, pumping every day will help you build up a stash of milk for the baby's first day at nursery or Grandma's house.

I don't sell pumps and there are many choices out there.  When choosing a pump think about the effort that has gone into its production.  Does the company involved spend a lot of research on pump development?  Do they make a lot of money from selling bottles?  Do they follow the WHO code of marketing of breastmilk substitutes?  There is only one company in the UK that adheres to this code of marketing and that is ARDO.

1 comment:

  1. great article - very informative. I am back at work part time now so have been expressing in my lunch hour! There are a couple of good pages of info from NHS and Maternity Action about your rights to express at work - I found them very useful, esp. as my boss (and HR!) had no clue...