By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC
What is Parallel Pumping?
Parallel Pumping is a feeding technique that involves nursing a baby at the breast on one side while simultaneously using a breast pump on the other breast.
Why Parallel Pumping?
Many mothers are prescribed Triple Feeding (nurse, pump, and feed baby) when latching is difficult or want to increase milk supply. In theory, Triple Feeding can continue to keep baby fed, encourage nursing at the breast, and keep milk flowing. Yet, the reality for many families is an overwhelming and exhausting situation that often results in early weaning. According to a 2019 study shared by Clinical Lactation, many breastfeeding mothers report Parallel Pumping makes triple feeding easier to manage and more realistic.
Parallel Pumping is an efficient technique to get you familiar with pumping and create a small freezer stash. The average milk store is about one day’s worth of milk when returning to work. You can easily store a day’s worth of breastmilk by Parallel Pumping 1-2x a day a few weeks before your maternity leave. Plus, you can continue to soak in those baby snuggles while you express extra milk!
When To Parallel Pump
Early mornings will always be the best time to pump. As a general rule, bring baby to the breast they did not nurse from or the breast that feels more full while expressing using the breast pump on the other side. Offer the first breast until baby falls asleep or pops off, then offer the other breast to baby and switch pumping to the other side. If you are triple feeding, you may want to use the Parallel Pumping Technique every feeding. Others may only want to do this a few times a day or only when extra milk is needed.
How to Parallel Pump
Start with your baby and pump nearby. Using a hands-free bra, get comfortable, latch baby first, then latch your flange, and last turn on the pump. With your Spectra Baby USA Breast Pump, start on Massage Mode for 3-5 min switch modes (use the three-wave button) when milk starts to slow down. Pump for 15-20 min. After baby nurses from one side, always offer the other breast to your baby to latch, then switch pumping to the opposite breast.
You may experience a stronger letdown reflex while nursing and pumping together rather than pumping alone. Parallel Pumping is an easy-to-do pumping technique that can save you time and help increase your milk supply!
Need help managing your pumping schedule or want to learn more about the benefits of parallel pumping? Connect with a Spectra baby USA IBCLC at firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Parallel Pumping!
McCue, K. F., & Stulberger, M. L. (2019). Maternal satisfaction with parallel pumping technique. Clinical Lactation, 10(2), 68–73. https://doi.org/10.1891/2158-07188.8.131.52