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How to Pump Breast Milk.
Pumping breast milk makes life a lot easier when you’re nursing a little one.
It allows you to store as little or as much milk as you want so you can provide for your baby’s feeding schedule during times when you can’t be there or just need a break.
Once you get used to the process, pumping milk isn’t difficult! This article outlines choosing the right pump, pumping effectively and storing your milk for best results.
Choosing a Pump and Setting Up
Decide what type of pump is right for you.
Every type of breast pump comes with pros and cons.
Reflect on your lifestyle, your baby’s needs and your own preferences and decide which pump works best for you.
Pumps can cost as little as $30 or as much as $1,000, and range from simple manual devices to high-tech electric machines.
Here’s an outline of the options:
These simple devices are the least expensive option.
They come with a shield that is placed over the nipple and a plunging device that sucks the milk into a bottle.
Women like manual pumps because they’re cheap and nice to have around when you just want to pump a little milk.
On the other hand, this option isn’t practical for women who plan on bottle-feeding their baby using primarily pumped milk, because each pumping session takes at least 45 minutes and requires the use of both hands.
Electric pumps. These pumps are easy to use and pump more milk much faster than hand pumps.
You flip a switch and let the machine go to work, and in the 15 – 20 minutes it takes to pump the milk, you can type, read a book or make a phone call because your hands are free.
However, this option is the most expensive; plan to pay several hundred or up to $1,000 dollars, depending on the brand.
Consider this type of pump the middle ground, both in terms of expense and the amount of effort required.
Battery-operated pumps don’t pump quite as much milk as electric pumps, but they don’t require the use of both hands like manual pumps.
One downside is that they frequently run out of batteries during pumping sessions.
Pick the right time to start pumping.
Every mother has different needs and preferences when it comes to choosing when to start pumping and bottle feeding.
Premature babies may need to take the bottle from day one, meaning you’ll need to start pumping right away.
In most cases, it’s advised to wait at least 3 weeks before you introduce the bottle, to avoid “nipple confusion.” Ultimately, though, the choice is yours as the mother
If you’re planning to start pumping when you go back to work, practice for a few weeks beforehand to get used to it first.
If you want to start pumping before you’re ready to introduce the bottle to your baby, you can freeze the milk for later.
Let your baby's feeding schedule be your guide.
On the days when you pump, the easiest way to make sure you get the most milk is to align your pumping with your baby’s schedule.
That way you can take advantage of your body’s natural cycle, rather than trying to force milk to come at random times.
Keep in mind that the more often you pump, the more milk you’ll produce.
You can pump one breast while your baby is feeding on the other.
This is an easy way to get plenty of milk.
You can wait one hour after a feeding and pump both breasts.
If you’re at work or away, pump at the time of day when your baby would normally feed.
The pumping process is easiest and least uncomfortable when you’re feeling relaxed and calm.
Whether you’re pumping with your baby on your other breast or you’re in the middle of the workday, it’s important to find a space that feels peaceful and give yourself plenty of time.
Rushing the process is only going to make it more difficult.
That means helping the milk move down into your breasts so that it’ll flow freely into the pump.
Massaging your breasts, draping a warm cloth over them, and allowing them to swing downward can all help to encourage letdown.
Make sure your supplies are clean and wash your hands before starting.
This will ensure that the milk doesn’t get contaminated during the pumping process.
Be sure to wash the pump, bottle and other supplies after each pumping session, too.
Using a Manual Pump
Place the breast shield over your nipple.
Make sure that you have the appropriate-sized shield for your breast.
Selecting an inappropriately sized shield can result in failed suction efforts, pain, and irritation.
Use the squeeze or plunging mechanism to begin pumping.
Hold the shield in place with one hand and squeeze the mechanism with the other.
The milk will begin pumping into the bottle.
Reposition the pump's handle if necessary.
Changing the position of the pump’s handle can affect its suction ability, so move it around until you find an appropriate suction level that makes your breast pumping efforts easier.
Continue until the milk flow slows. When pumping with a manual pump, it usually takes about 45 minutes.
Using an Electric or Battery-Operated Pump
Position the breast shield over your nipple correctly.
If you have a double breast pump, you’ll want to position 2 shields over your nipples simultaneously.
Double breast pumps can save enormous amounts of time for mothers who need to produce milk quickly or who have a baby who requires a lot of milk.
urn the machine on and let it work.
The milk will automatically begin pumping from your breast into the container.
Adjust the automatic suction as necessary
If the milk seems to be pumping slowly or the suction feels painful, adjust it.
Try repositioning your breasts and the rest of your body.
The process should not be painful, although it may feel strange at first.
Remain calm while the suction occurs.
This will make the pumping process go much more smoothly.
Some mothers can be made uneasy by a loud breast pumping machine.
However, if you’re relaxed, you will often produce more milk in less time than you would while anxious.
Continue until the milk flow slows.
When using an electric or battery-operated pump, you should be finished within 15 to 20 minutes.
Storing Breast Milk
Store milk in the refrigerator for up to three days.
You can store it in either the bottle that it’s pumped into or in another container designed for breast milk storage.
Make sure to label the containers and use the oldest milk first.
Freeze milk for a few months.
If you have extra breast milk, you can freeze it in plastic containers designed for breast milk storage.
Fill the containers 3/4 full to allow room for the milk to expand.
Label the containers and be sure to use the milk within three or four months.
Don’t freeze milk in bags that are not designed for this specific purpose.
Certain plastics can leach chemicals into the milk.
Disposable bottle bags are too flimsy.
When you’re ready to use the milk, thaw it in the refrigerator first.
Don’t thaw it at room temperature.
Don’t add fresh milk to a container of frozen milk.
Store milk in convenient serving sizes.
Rather than storing a big jar of milk, store it in small serving-sized containers in portions of 2 – 4 ounces, depending on how much your baby usually takes.