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You are here: Home > Baby > Breastfeeding

Breast Pumps: When and How to Use Them

by Katlyn Joy | March 16, 2015 12:00 AM
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So, you've decided to become a breastfeeding mother. Most of the time, once you get the hang of it, it will be a simple task and will require only two things, really — you and your baby. There are no bottles to prep, no formula to prepack in baby's bag.

However, there are times when you may need to pump your milk. This is a bit more complicated than getting baby latched on and relaxing for a feeding. This involves equipment, some planning, and a little know-how. However, it's not rocket science, either, so don't worry!

Times You May Need to Pump Milk

Of course, the main scenario that involves pumping milk is when a mother needs to return to work following maternity leave. Perhaps Mom is a fulltime student and must return to the classroom. However, there are other situations that warrant pumping such as in the case of a premature baby, a child born with certain medical conditions such as a cleft palate, or if there is a medical reason baby cannot nurse directly.

Should you have a medical emergency that necessitates no nursing temporarily and you know ahead of time, say in case of surgery, then you may want to pump ahead of time to set up a supply of milk for baby. Should you be given certain drugs, you'll want to dump that milk, however since certain drugs can pass into your milk.

Some mothers pump occasionally to have some stored so that they can be gone a bit longer on a date night, for a short trip, or maybe you need a couple full night's sleep and Dad will feed baby a bottle of breastmilk while you catch up on ZZZs.

What Kind of Pump Will You Need?

If you are pumping for a medical reason, such as a preemie, chances are the hospital will allow you use of a medical-grade breast pump. These pumps are of the most hardy and professional type and can be used by more than one woman safely (unlike other breast pumps).

If you will be returning to work or school and will be pumping regularly, you will want to invest in a good quality electric breast pump. Many women prefer a double-pump, hands-free system to make this a more efficient process.

Should you need to pump less regularly, perhaps for a single separation, or for the occasional day out, then a cheaper, manual or battery operated pump may fill the bill.

Read reviews of breast pumps, ask friends for recommendations and lactation consultants or nurses for advice.

Getting Started

No matter which type of pump you'll be using, there will be a learning curve involved. Get the instruction manual, write down the number of the place you buy it from for support, and make sure La Leche or your local breastfeeding counselor is on speed dial.

Give yourself a couple of weeks to get things under control. For many women, starting to pump milk seems like a tough and tedious process at first. However, rest assured, it will become old hat very soon.

The first times you try, you may freak out to find only a few dribbles finding their way into your storage container or bottle. Don't despair. You will be able to do this in about 15 minutes or so once you learn and your breasts adjust.

Tips for Better Pumping


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