Establishing Your Breast Milk Supply
When do I start breastfeeding or pumping?
It is important to begin breastfeeding immediately after birth in order to give your breast milk supply a good start. The first window of opportunity is within the first 20 to 30 minutes post-partum, when babies breastfeeding instincts are at the peak. Research shows that if a newborn baby is placed on the abdomen of his/her mother, they will instinctively find the breast within 50 minutes.
If Baby is having trouble latching on or unable to nurse for any reason, you should start pumping as soon as possible, within 6 hours of giving birth. This will give your breast milk supply the best chance at a good start. Most Hospitals provide a hospital-grade double electric breast pump for their patients. Try pumping for 10 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. Time it from the beginning of one pumping session to the beginning of the next. Shoot for 8 to 10 pumping sessions per 24 hours. Also, try to pump at least once during the night. It’s best to pump when you wake up naturally, like if you have to use the bathroom or if your breasts feel uncomfortably full. It is important to pump as often as possible in order to establish your breast milk supply. Try not to go longer than 5 or 6 hours between pumping sessions.
If Baby is nursing well, continue breastfeeding every 2 to 3 hours during the day, and every 4 to 5 hours through the night. Your baby should be getting at least 8 to 12 feedings of every 24 hours. To calculate the 2 to 3 hours windows between breastfeeding sessions, start at the beginning of one feeding and end at the beginning of the next feeding. Most breastfeeding sessions will usually last between 20 to 40 minutes, so if your baby nurses for 40 minutes, that means you will have a window of about 1 hour and 20 minutes before the next feeding begins. This information is meant to aid you and give you an idea of what to expect, however, I strongly suggest you pay closer attention to your baby’s signs of hunger rather than watching the clock. In the beginning, breastfeeding as much as possible will give you breast milk supply a boost.
What breast pump should I use?
If Baby is not nursing, or not nursing well, consider renting a hospital-grade breast pump from your local Hospital or medical supply store when you return home. When it comes to establishing your breast milk supply or maintaining it, a hospital grade breast pump is the best, especially if baby is unable to nurse. Hospital grade breast pumps are extremely expensive to purchase, so if you are unable to rent one, consider buying a high-end double electric breast pump. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced, Medela Freestyle, or Ameda Purely Yours are excellent choices.
Getting a good start in the beginning is extremely important when establishing your breast milk supply. Research tells us that the first 2 weeks are extremely important, and are usually a good indicator of what the breastfeeding outcome will be. If you get a rough start and after the first two week things don’t look promising, don’t give up, keep pumping regularly. It’s not abnormal to see a boost in your breast milk supply as late as 9 to 15 weeks after birth.