Switching from exclusive pumping to nursing
Real-life: Baby is at 10 weeks now and I have been exclusively pumping. Exclusively pumping hasn't been easy. Each side takes 30-40 minutes of pumping and constant massaging to get the milk out. With exclusively pumping, it feels like I'm doing double the work and it's getting too much having to take care of baby and myself. I have built up a good supply now, and I want to gradually switch to nursing. Is it possible?
Learn how to latch
Some babies are naturally good feeders and can latch on pretty quickly. But for a lot of the exclusively pumping moms, the reason why we choose to exclusively pump is due to latching problems at the start. Hence, it may take some extra time and effort for a baby to re-learn how to latch on correctly again.
Every baby is unique and the best thing you can do is to have a professional lactation expert observe and suggest methods that are customised to you and your baby. Engaging the services of a private lactation consultant may be too costly for some. A really good complimentary service offered by most councils is the drop-in breastfeeding clinics. Check your maternal and child health booklet for your nearest breastfeeding clinics. Plus, you get to meet other mums in breastfeeding clinics and make friends.
It is very important to have skin-to-skin contact and let baby lay on your chest. Let your baby get used to hearing your heartbeat and being close to you. Slowly, guide your baby to your breast and brush your nipple over baby's lips. Do that a couple of times until your baby opens their lips.
Some babies may be accustomed to feeding from a bottle, and not respond to the nipple. Do not feel discouraged. This is normal. It may take multiple tries to get your baby to respond to the nipple and latch on. Remember it is harder for your baby to drink milk from the breast than from a bottle.
Offer a feed before your pumping session or when you see early hunger signs from your baby. Do not wait until your baby is too hungry. It is best to nurse when baby is calm and relaxed.
For instance, if you decide to nurse baby in the morning, be consistent and try to let baby feed from the breast every day at around this time.
If you think baby needs more milk after nursing, you can offer a top-up bottle. If you feel like the breast isn't drained, you can also pump after nursing to maintain your supply. Gradually, as baby gets more accustomed to latching, your nursing session will also last longer. Eventually, your baby will be able to replace your pumping session.
Slowly replace pumping sessions with nursing sessions
Take the lead from your baby as to how quickly you will replace other pumping sessions with nursing sessions.
Your milk supply may change
You may be producing less milk, but this is natural since your milk supply is adjusting to your baby's appetite.
You can have the best of both worlds
The two options do not have to be mutually exclusive. You can enjoy having flexibility depending on the kind of days you're having. With nursing, you can enjoy the special bond with baby and not have to do the extra tasks of washing bottles and carrying breast pump when you're out. With pumping, you can get your husband to take part and feed. Plus you do not have to feel the pressure of being the only person who can feed your baby.