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You are here: Home > Baby > Breastfeeding

How to Use a Breast Pump

by Katlyn Joy
1 Comments

You've decided to breastfeed your baby when the little one arrives. You've read about proper positioning, how to get baby to latch on and the mechanics of milk let-down. You've got books on breastfeeding and a nursing pillow. What now?

Even women who are staying home during those nursing weeks or months will find a breast pump handy at least, and possibly a lifesaver. Sometimes the unexpected occurs and causes some bumps in the breastfeeding road. You could need a surgical procedure, a relative could fall ill and require you to travel out of state, or perhaps you decide you would like to leave a bottle of breast milk for the babysitter to give baby so you can watch a whole movie and eat a dinner complete with dessert with your spouse. For those returning to work before weaning the baby, a breast pump is your best friend.

Types of Pumps

Breast pumps are not all the same. To determine what type of pump you need investigate the types available and determine the pros and cons of each model. Ask for recommendations from other nursing moms, lactation consultants and the nurses at the maternity ward or your pediatrician.

Manual pumps. A manual breast pump relies on suction power generated by your own hand to express milk. While many breastfeeding moms swear by them, some become so frustrated they give up on pumping milk. If you will only use a breast pump occasionally for extra bottles for the once in awhile outing without baby, a manual breast pump may be sufficient. The old fashioned bicycle pump style manual pumps are not advised for use as they are difficult to clean and can cause pain during pumping.

Small electric or battery-powered pumps. These are a middle ground between more expensive electric pumps and the cheap manual ones. Again, if you'll be pumping every day for work and have limited time, you may want to invest in a more powerful model.

Electric breast pumps, hospital or consumer grade. These pumps are more expensive costing upwards of 0, or in the case of hospital pumps, can be rented. These pumps are efficient and powerful, allowing a woman to pump quickly. Many models offer a hands-free design and some are double pumps which permit the pumping of both breasts.

Should a woman choose an electric model, it's important to have a back up method in case of an emergency. At the least, a woman should know the proper technique for hand expressing milk should situations dictate such methods.

Breast Pump Basics

1. Start with the instruction manual. Don't guess; instead read through the whole booklet first before trying out the pump.

2. Always wash your hands thoroughly before pumping your milk.

3. Find an appropriate spot for pumping. For electric models, you'll need a place near an electrical outlet. Somewhere quiet and private will be best, especially as you are becoming accustomed to the process of pumping your breast milk.

4. Make sure the breast shield is the right size for your nipple. It should fit over the entire areola without pinching. Position the shield over the center of your nipple and make sure it is positioned comfortably and that you get a good seal.

5. To facilitate milk let down, consider bringing a photo of baby, a recording of her cry on your cell phone or a small item of clothing with his scent on it.

6. Plan for up to 15 minutes per breast for pumping time, similar to nursing guidelines.

7. Collect your milk in clean containers and store properly.

8. Use breast pads in the early weeks when you may experience some leakage after expressing or pumping your breast milk.

9. Clean your breast pump as directed by the manufacturer.

10. Keep yourself well hydrated during before and after pumping or nursing sessions.

Storing Breast Milk

- Most breast pumps feature a collection bottle to collect, store and feed baby. If not, pump the milk and store in a sterile plastic bag or a storage container intended to be used for breast milk.

- Store milk in the amount of milk used per feeding to avoid wasting the milk.

- Always date the pumped milk so you know when to discard it if it's not used in time.

- If freezing, keep an inch clear from the top to allow for expansion during freezing.

- Don't store in the door of the frig or freezer but rather in the main section.

- Always use the older milk first.

- Don't mix milk from different collection times, or milk that's been frozen or refrigerated with milk that's fresh.

Storage Time Tables


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Paula Jul 25, 2012 02:41:01 PM ET

After my baby was born i had some unexpected trouble with my c-section, so i was unable to feed her on the breast. i have been pumping for the last 2 weeks. i don't feel i am producing enough, i am pumping just enough to feed her if that. she is eating and i am litterally pumping frantically to mae sure she has breast milk for the next feeding. i have had to supplement formula a few times for a feeding (not something i like to do). any advice on how to produce more would be greatly appreciated.

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