Should You Work with an IBCLC if You Exclusively Pump and Bottle Feed?

Jan 3, 2024 | Breast Pumps

Mother who bottle feed feeding infant with milk

Lactation consultants, also known as IBCLCs, play a multifaceted role in supporting mothers with breastfeeding, pumping, and bottle feeding. Their expertise extends to various aspects of infant feeding to ensure a positive and successful breastfeeding journey for both mother and baby. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) provide support and guidance for mothers who pump and bottle feed as part of their comprehensive lactation support services.

Preparing for Successful Bottle Feed: Prenatal Pumping Education

Lactation consultants are trained professionals who specialize in helping mothers with various aspects of infant feeding, and this includes assistance with expressing human milk and introducing bottle feeding so they are the best suited member of your feeding team and are a critical part of the lactation network you need.

IBCLCs provide support by initiating pumping education before you deliver your baby. Prenatal education is so helpful to allow you to create a plan to help prepare before the baby arrives. The education should include how to establish and maintain a milk supply, trouble shoot pumping difficulties and issues and how to bottle feed your baby. They also help you develop a better understanding of balancing bottle feeding and pumping, breastmilk storage guidelines, and what to do when you need to return to work. 

Pumps are only effective if you know how to best use them and Lactation consultants can teach you all the ins-and-outs of pump use, flange sizing, and tips to maximize milk production. This includes guidance on choosing the right pump, proper usage, and maintaining hygiene during the pumping process and how to clean and store parts properly. Prenatal Infant Feeding Consults can take place before the baby arrives to help you ensure you are prepared and ready to get started after baby’s arrival!

Lactation consultants can also help parents develop a pumping schedule to establish and maintain their milk supply which should begin in the hospital soon after delivering the baby.

Lactation Room IBCLCs provide advice on when and how often to pump based on your individual needs and life or health circumstances. If a mother encounters difficulties with pumping, such as low milk output or discomfort, a lactation consultant can assess the situation and offer solutions. This may involve adjusting the pump settings, ensuring proper breast shield fit, or addressing any underlying issues affecting milk production.

Lactation consultants can guide mothers on proper bottle-feeding techniques to ensure a smooth transition between the breast and the bottle. This includes selecting appropriate bottle nipples, paced bottle feeding, and maintaining a breastfeeding-friendly environment. You may choose to combine breastfeeding and bottle feeding for various reasons, such as returning to work or sharing feeding responsibilities.

IBCLCs can help develop strategies for successfully integrating both methods while maintaining a healthy breastfeeding relationship. Lactation consultants should be on the forefront of your exclusive pumping and bottle-feeding choice. They have the most current information on proper milk storage guidelines, including the duration for which expressed breast milk can be safely stored, thawed, and used. This is crucial for maintaining the nutritional quality of breast milk and safely feeding your baby.

Sarah Early - MSN, APRN-FNP-C, IBCLC

Sarah Early, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, IBCLC, is a clinically trained Integrative and Functional Health Family Nurse Practitioner who specializes in women's health and is the owner of Peony Women's Integrative Health and Lactation Room. She graduated with a Master's in Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner with high distinction and is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. Sarah has been a practicing International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) since 2011 and opened Lactation Room in 2014. Lactation Room specializes in supporting parent/baby dyads who are struggling with infant oral dysfunction, feeding difficulties, and tongue-and-lip ties. They earned the prestigious IBCLE Care Award from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®) and International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) have recognized Lactation Room for excellence in lactation care. She is a member of ILCA, USLCA, MBC, AANP, IATP, and MBC.