Pumping breast milk may not always be as easy as you see it on breast pump commercials, pictures, and the internet. That is why this article will be sharing pointers on how to pump breast milk.
To effectively pump breast milk and master the act, you need a lot of tips and tricks at your fingertips. It would help if you had lots of practice and the right equipment suitable for you.
When pumping breast milk, the first thing you need is a pump; and not all pumps will be comfortable for you. You need to find the ones you can easily use comfortably. So, let’s see which pump is suitable for you.
Choosing The Right Breast Pump For You
There are three basic types of breast pumps. The manual pump, the electrically operated pump, and the battery-operated pump. These pumps will help you with ways how to pump breast milk.
1. The Manual Pump
It is the least expensive and simplest breast pump to use. A manual pumping session should take about 45 minutes. Manual pumps consist of a breast shield and a plunging device which pumps out the milk.
Using both hands, one to hold the breast and the other on the plunging device, you can pump out milk.
If you are not going to be using pumped breast milk all the time, and looking for something cheap, then this pump is for you.
2. Electric Pumps
These pumps are the more expensive breast pump options. But they are easy to use, they pump milk faster, and you get more milk in each pumping session.
The cool thing about using this pump is that you do not use your hands for pumping.
So, you can do other things with your hands, like type on your phone, make a phone call or read a book while the machine is pumping milk.
This breast pump is especially suitable for women who want exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of the child’s life, without formula, water, or any other food.
3. The Battery-Operated Pumps
This pump is less expensive than the electrical pump and doesn’t yield as much as the electric pump after a pumping session.
But, it doesn’t require you to pump the breast milk with your hand like the manual pump so we can say that it is a go-between the manual pumps and electrically operated pumps.
So, if you require lesser effort to pump milk (like me), and do not want something too expensive, then you can get this pump.
How To Pump Breast Milk
As I mentioned earlier, the three ways to pump breast milk are the hand pump, electric pump, or battery-operated pump.
1. Using The Hand Breast Pump
To begin, place a suitable-sized breast shield over the breasts. Ensure that you do not injure or irritate the nipple while squeezing and pumping.
It also ensures that the suction is tight, else you may not have a smooth pumping session if the breast shield is too small or big.
Next, place the breast pump over the breast shield. Use one hand to hold the breast shield in place and squeeze the plunging device to pump milk out of the breast.
Soon trickles of milk will start getting into the bottle. Ensure that before you start pumping, you position the plunging device correctly, or it may alter the suction in the pump, and pumping will be difficult.
To make milk flow faster and encourage letdown, you can draw out the nipples and massage the breast before the pumping session.
You can also lean forward a bit while pumping. Also, ensure that you are calm and relaxed without stress.
2. Using The Electric Breast Pump
As always, position a breast shield that fits your breasts and covers your nipple correctly.
If you have a double breast pump, you may want to pump the two breasts at once or pump one breast and breastfeed your baby from the other breast.
It will encourage the let-down reflex, leading to more milk, plus pumping from the two breasts at once will make you have more milk stored, primarily if your baby feeds all the time.
After placing the breast shields to cover the nipple, fix the suction cup over each breast shield at the two breasts, then switch on the pump to start pumping, you should have already connected it to a power outlet.
Soon, you will begin seeing trickles of milk inside the container. Yes, it may be awkward at first, feeling the vibrations and all, but you would get used to it.
You may also not be able to get the suction cup to fit perfectly into the breast shield at your first use. It would take some practice and, if necessary, assistance from your partner to get the suction appropriately fixed.
Know that you may need to make some changes and adjustments in the suction if you feel pains, irritation, or slow milk flow. A pumping session with an electric breast pump will take about 15 to 20 minutes.
You will know when to stop when the milk flow slows down and stops. If it happens, dislodge the suction cup, pour the pumped milk into appropriate storing bottles and store it properly for later use.
3. Using Battery-Operated Breast Pumps
A battery-operated breast pump is similar to an electric breast pump. The pump comes with slots for the battery, so you fix them and use them for pumping.
It is relatively cool to use. You set your breast shield size to cover the nipple and areola, then attach the suction cup over the breast pump. The switch on the start button and pump.
The pumping session should take about 15-20 minutes. The milk gotten wouldn’t be compared to the output from the electric breast pump, but it is way more than a manual pump.
A downside of using the battery-operated pump is that these pumps consume a lot of batteries, and a pumping session may stop halfway through if the battery is low.
Tips For Storing Pumped Milk
You may not always have to use the pumped breast milk at once. Sometimes you can pump several times a day and store it when you would not around so that the baby can get breast milk.
Below are some tips to help you store your breast milk.
1. If you intend to use the milk soon, you can store pumped breast milk in the refrigerator (fridge) for at most three days.
2. Store milk only in special plastic or glass containers prepared for breast milk storage or storage bags.
3. Label milk containers by date before storing them.
4. Always use previously-stored milk, the ones with recent dates.
5. If you intend to freeze milk, ensure frozen containers are designed for milk storage.
6. Freeze milk only for a few months (6 months to one year.
7. While freezing milk, fill only to ¾ full of the containers.
8. Freeze milk in milk bags specifically designed for storing milk or thick food-safe plastics, specially made for milk storage.
9. Thaw frozen milk in the refrigerator before using.
10. Do not add freshly pumped milk to already stored milk.
11. Preferably, store milk in smaller milk bottles rather than a large milk jar.
12. Ensure that the storage containers are washed and sterilized before use.
Things To Note Before Pumping
Before you start pumping, you need to consider some of these tips:
When learning how to pump breast milk, one of the most important thing is planning the appropriate time for you to pump out breastmilk.
To be successful and effective, you need to plan a suitable schedule for pumping milk. When I started using the breast pump, then I had a manual breast pump, and I used to pump anytime I felt like it, it was tiring and stressful.
It can be the same for you if you do not plan your pump time. Set aside a specific time in the day when you have time for pumping.
When you are not so busy, you can give your attention. With the work of handling a newborn, handling house chores, and other personal needs, you may find it challenging to know when you should pump.
You will likely have a successful pumping session if you add it to your schedule as part of your to-do list.
Other Things To Note Before Pumping Breast Milk
1. Be relaxed: This is a helpful tip when finding how to pump breast milk effectively. At the early start of breastfeeding, breast milk release will depending on your hormones and state of mind.
These two factors play many roles in determining how well the milk is released. To ensure a successful pumping session, you need to relax your mind and be calm and comfortable. It would make it easier for you to pump milk.
2. To stimulate milk flow, you or your partner can draw out the nipple, massage the breast, and use a warm cloth to wrap the breast. All these will help the let-down of milk.
3. Properly wash and sterilize all the containers you will use for pumping – storage bottles, suction cups, breast shields, etc. They would help prevent germs and wash your hands before a pumping session.
Tips On How To Pump Breast Milk
If you are finding how to pump breast milk effectively, here are some helpful tips you should know of:
1. Learn about the different types of pumps available before pumping; this would help you know the correct type of pump suitable for you.
2. Choose a quiet pump if you are irritated by noise or intend to pump milk at work.
3. You may not get it once in your few trials but keep at it. With time you will be a pro.
4. Get new pump parts when the old ones are worn.
5. Pumping regularly ensures that you have increased milk flow.
6. Understand how to use your pump; read the instructions and ask women with similar products. It would guide on how best to pump breast milk effectively.
7. Eat well: eating healthy and wholesome meals regularly will ensure that you have more milk stored.
8. You can put the baby on one breast to suck while you pump breast milk from the other breast. It would also stimulate the let-down and help you relax.
10. Try lactogenic foods like tiger nuts, lactation cookies, and drinking warm tea; they can help milk flow.
11. Try not to always look at the bottle and be discouraged that you are not pumping enough.
12. Avoid comparing yourself with other women.
13. You can buy a hand-free bra to aid pumping.
14. Pump at night when the baby is asleep.
15. Even after a pumping session and the milk has stopped, wait for a few minutes and pump again. It will let down some more milk.
How To Combine Breastfeeding And Pumping
Combining breastfeeding and pumping is one useful tip on how to pump breastmilk effectively. It is beneficial because it helps increase letdown and milk flow, which increases milk supply.
It also helps a lot when you feel uncomfortable or unrelaxed when pumping. To combine breastfeeding and pumping, you can try these tips:
1. Pump milk after breastfeeding sessions.
2. Use a warm wrap to encourage the letdown of milk.
3. You may not always have to store breast milk since you are actively breastfeeding, instead, breastfeed often and pump when needed.
4. Keep a rack or plate handy with snacks, fruits, etc., so that you can munch something when you are pumping and breastfeeding.
5. It would take some practice, so do not get too overwhelmed.
6. Try using wearable breast pumps.
7. A good nursing pillow will help make the job easier.
8. Nipple cream, coconut oil, or shea butter are a must-have to help skin irritation.
How To Pump Breast Milk Naturally
Pumping breast milk with your hands is how to pump breast milk naturally. It is easier than using a pump machine, but it takes more time and effort.
Here are steps on how to pump breast milk naturally:
1. Clean your hands and the container to store breast milk.
2. Get in a comfortable position (sitting on a chair with an armrest is usually advised.
3. Drop your shoulders and tilt forward a little.
4. Give a firm squeeze or massage on the breast.
5. Stimulate the nipple with the fingers.
6. Hold the breast with both hands in a cupped C-shape.
7. Press the breast with both fingers (they should be close to the nipple).
9. Repeat this process again and again till trickles of breast milk start flowing out.
How To Sit When Pumping Breast Milk
When learning how to pump breast milk, you should also pay attention to how you sit during pumping.
However you sit, the most important thing is being comfortable. So, it is good to get a comfortable chair with arms.
You may also sit on a firm bed, and you should have something to support your back and stomach while pumping. You can also lie on a recliner, but do not lie on a bed.
You do not have to bend or hunch to encourage milk flow. However, it would be best if you sat upright, your back straight, your arms relaxed, and your feet flat on the floor.
This is the best position to stay in to avoid back strain.
When To Start Pumping Breast Milk
Not every mother will want to start using the breast pump almost immediately after the baby’s birth, even if some mothers would for convenience.
It is best to encourage the baby to feed on the breast as much as possible. But that may not always be the case due to caesarean section, work, etc.
Since every woman’s need is different, you need to plan appropriately before birth if you want to use a breast pump and, if yes, when you want to start using it.
If all things are on track, and your baby is feeding well and gaining weight, it is best to let the baby continue breastfeeding till about six weeks.
It is so that the baby can establish a breastfeeding routine and get used to breastfeeding. After then, you can start pumping breast milk or combine both breastfeeding and pumping.
How Many Times Should You Pump Breast Milk In A Day?
If you are combining breastfeeding and pumping, you can pump during these times.
1. In the morning because women get more yield then.
2. Pump 30-60 minutes after nursing your baby during the day.
3. For exclusive breastfeeding, pump about 8-10 times daily. As a result, your milk production should be about 750-1035 ml (total milk production).
How To Pump Breast Milk Fast
Sometimes, you need to understand how to pump breastmilk fast because it can get tiring when it takes long. Fortunately, this is a list of things you can do to help you pump faster:
1. Use a warm towel to wrap the breast to encourage milk flow.
2. Massage the breast before pumping.
3. Stimulate the nipples.
4. Tilt forward just a little bit when pumping.
5. Eat well.
6. Eat regularly.
7. Try lactogenic foods.
8. Use the let-down mode in your pump to stimulate the breast before pumping.
9. Be relaxed.
10. Breastfeed while pumping.
11. Have a warm shower.
12. Try taking lecithin. (13) Try a different breast shield.
14. After massaging, the breast, use a short pump speed.
15. Change the breast pump parts regularly.
Sometimes, you need to an increased milk flow for faster pumping. For tips on how to increase your breast milk while breastfeeding, check out the article in the link provided here.
If you are having a clogged milk duct and this is affecting your pumping and breastfeeding speed, read about how to clear a clogged milk duct in the article here.
I highlighted simple tips you need to follow to be able to pump breastmilk in this article. These will help you figure out how to pump breast milk effectively.
If during the course of pumping breastmilk, you experience sharp pain, you’re probably doing it wrong. If you follow all the methods to the latter and still experience pain, kindly visit your doctor for advice.
I hope you found this super useful. I wish you the best of luck on your milk pumping and breastfeeding journey.
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