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Feed, Feed, Feed...the Ins and Outs of Triple Feeding!

Updated: Mar 28

A baby looking confused with a speech bubble saying, "They expect me to what?"

Triple feeding…anyone who has done this knows it is a unique labor of love, one that not everyone knows about as they decide to breastfeed or begin their journey. It is often not discovered until those first few days of learning to latch, waiting for the milk to come in, getting a baby’s weight gain on track, or in the hope of increasing breastmilk supply. It is a common recommendation from those of us in the lactation field and can be an extremely useful tool when used properly.

What is triple feeding?

Triple feeding is generally a three-step process:

1. Feed at the breast. Nurse your baby for as long as they will go effectively sucking and swallowing or latch for up to 20 minutes per side.

2. Pump on both sides. Use your double, electric, single-user pump (typically covered by health insurance) for up to 15 minutes or at least until the milk stops flowing.

3. Feed additional milk from a bottle using a paced feeding method. This can be human milk from pumping or infant formula.

Whew, what a process! Are you tired yet because I am! Triple feeding is tedious which is why it often discourages people from breastfeeding. Add in clean-up, and the process will often take over an hour. New babies should eat 8 to 12 times per day which can leave very little time for mom to do anything other than feed the baby.

Do I need to triple feed?

Now that you are familiar with triple feeding, you may be wondering why anyone would ever want to do it or why a lactation consultant would recommend it. Triple feeding is hard work but can be hugely beneficial. It should also be TEMPORARY. Triple feeding may help in the following situations:

  • Bringing your milk in at the start of your breastfeeding journey

  • Boosting milk supply

  • Protecting milk supply while a baby is mastering their latch or transfer

  • Improving jaundice symptoms

  • Addressing concerns about baby’s weight gain or growth

I encourage triple feeding when appropriate but believe it should always be used in conjunction with goal setting during breastfeeding. The hard work of triple feeding can be discouraging, but I find that providing boundaries and having open communication about goals and expectations will make it a more valued experience.

Tips for Triple Feeding

  • Set a time frame. For example, decide to triple feed for a set period of time, such as a few days up to one week, then reassess. You could also only triple feed during the day or with every other feed.

  • Teamwork can make the process more efficient. While mom will need to take over the nursing and pumping, a partner, friend, or family member can help bottle feed, wash pump parts, and store expressed milk.

  • Remember it’s not forever. The time dedicated to breastfeeding can feel overwhelming, especially in the early days. Putting in the time and effort to establish your supply can help you towards a more sustainable feeding pattern for you and your baby.

Now that you understand more about the triple feeding process and its application in breastfeeding, I hope you can see its value. Triple feeding can be a vital tool to establish a robust supply, support proper newborn weight gain and growth, and later on, boost a supply to support baby’s needs.

Triple feeding isn’t meant to be an exercise in patience and tolerance for new families, although it may feel that way. There can be huge benefits. Always remember to set goals and boundaries for yourself. Reach out for help when you need it. Remember that most problems are solvable. You’ve got this, modern mama! Trust yourself.

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