How to Pump
If you’ve made the decision to breastfeed, congratulations! This is an important step for both your baby’s health and yours. However, breastfeeding isn’t easy for everyone. And, continuing to breast feed is often made difficult by busy work schedules. Therefore, breast pumping may be something you are planning to incorporate into your feeding plan.
While all of the breast pumping options and equipment may seem overwhelming, the process of breast pumping is made to be simple, and we’re here to help you learn as much as possible. Below are some frequently asked questions to help you feel more confident on your breast pumping journey.
When Should I Pump?
Pumping can help to build your milk supply, so if your baby is ill or pre-term, you should start pumping as soon as you can — preferably in the first 6 hours post birth for the best success in building your supply quickly. If your baby is healthy and full-term, it is safe to wait a few weeks to start pumping.
Why Would I Pump?
- Your baby is unable to latch or feed directly from the breast.
- You want to store milk for when you are away from your baby (for example, if you are working and will be away from your little one during the day).
- You want to give your baby breast milk, but do not want to breast feed.
- You’re interested in donating milk.
- You want to increase milk supply/weaning/alleviate pressure.
- You simply want to give other caregivers the opportunity to feed the baby.
How Much Do I Need to Pump?
If you are exclusively pumping:
- Plan to pump 8-10 times in a 24-hour period
- Full milk production is normally 25-35 oz in a 24-hour period.
How to Pump
- Find – Find a comfortable place to sit
- Wash– Wash your hands with soap and water
- Assemble – Assemble your pump kit
- Prep– Line the flanges over your breast with your nipple center in the flange opening, while it is still off
- Turn On– Start out with high speed and low suction, until you see milk flow. Then adjust to a low speed, high suction setting. Pump until you see milk flow decrease.
- Clean – Follow CDC guidelines
Successful Pumping Tips:
- Consider your baby’s on cue nursing schedule when creating your pumping schedule.
- Hands on Pumping: Massage the breast and stimulate the nipple before and during your pumping session.
- Increase oxytocin by looking at pictures of the baby or bringing a baby blanket
- Start with hand expression.
- Reward Yourself: Your body correlates its oxytocin release with certain triggers. If you have a piece of chocolate every time you pump or feed, your body will start to respond to chocolate as a stimulus to let down milk.
- Pick the correct pump for you: Refer to the “How to Choose a Pump” guide!
- Improper set up: Make sure the duckbill valve or membrane valve is intact and properly placed. Check that your tubing has no cracks or tears in it.
- Blocked ducts: This is common in breast pumping moms because the pump is not as good as the baby at expelling the milk. To prevent this from happening, hand express while pumping.
- Pumping at work: find a place, time, and support.
- Flange sizes: Go small or go home. Bigger flange sizes tend to cause more damage than one that is too small. The flange size should give your nipple enough room to stretch and fit a portion of the areola, while not pulling all the areola in.
How to Properly Store Milk:
- Follow CDC guidelines for Milk Storage
- Label with date and any medications you may be on
- When storing in freezer, store flat in milk storage bags in small amounts (1 – 3 oz) – this makes it easier to store, easier to defrost, and decreases over-feeding
How to Select Flange Size:
Understanding flange size makes it easier to select which one will best fit you. Some important tips to follow to help guide you on the fit of the flange on your breast include:
- Too Small: Indicated by the sides of nipple rubbing on tunnel of flange
- Too large: Areola is pulled into the flange
- Optimal size: Sides of nipples do not rub on the tunnel of the flange, minimal areola enters
- FYI: The size of the nipple changes throughout the day!!
Resources & Tutorials:
- Check out your breast pump manufacturer’s website
- Don’t forget the plethora of content and demonstrations available on YouTube
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