- When to Start
- How Often to Pump
- Types of Pumps
- Used Pumps
- Shelf Life of Pumped Milk
- Cleaning a Breast Pump
For many new moms, breast pumping can be daunting at first. Here is a step-by-step guide to ensure you are doing it correctly:
- Wash your hands with soap and water and make sure the pumping instrument is clean.
- Place the flange over the center of your breast and hold it in place.
- Follow the instructions on the label of the equipment on how to set the dial.
- Start with a higher speed but lower suction pressure.
- Then, gradually switch to a lower speed and high suction pressure.
- Continue pumping for anywhere between 15-30 minutes.
- Once you finish pumping, break the suction and remove the bottle carefully from the breast.
- Unplug the equipment and clean your pump according to the instructions on the label.
When should I start pumping?
During the first 2 hours after birth, you can express your breast milk by pressing with your hands and then pumping every 2-3 hours. Keep pumping to gradually increase your milk supply.
If you need to go back to work or leave your baby for an extended period, start breast pumping 3-4 weeks beforehand. This will help your baby get used to drinking from a bottle so that you do not have to worry when you are not around the baby.
Breastfeeding without the use of pumps is ideal. However, you may need to start pumping if:
- Your baby is losing weight
- Your baby is premature and can't latch onto your breast
- Your baby can’t eat due to illness or jaundice
- You have to stay away from your baby for longer periods
If your baby is gaining weight, avoid starting pumping early as it can create an oversupply of breast milk. Producing too much milk can cause your breasts to become engorged and lead to problems such as mastitis, which is inflammation of the breast.
How often should I be pumping?
When you are away from your baby, pump as many times as your baby feeds during the day. This signals your body to keep producing milk so that your supply does not decrease. The amount of breast milk your baby needs may change as they grow.
It’s best to pump soon after your baby has breastfed. Avoid pumping before a breastfeeding session because your baby may lose interest in breastfeeding if your breast is low in volume after pumping. Once you are back to work, try pumping about every 2-3 hours.
What are different types of breast pumps?
Depending on the manual or electric nature of the pump, there are two types of pumps:
- Manual pumps: Also called hand-operated pumps, manual pumps are small and cheaper compared to electric pumps. While they may prove useful if a power outage occurs, they do require more effort and time to extract milk. If you do not need to pump often but only occasionally, a manual pump may be a good option for you.
- Electric pumps: Also called automatic pumps, electric pumps require much less effort and are easier to use than manual pumps. They come in many sizes and most of them are either plugged in or battery-operated.
Check your insurance plan to see if it covers breast pumps. If not, you can buy or rent a breast pump from a hospital, lactation consultant, retail store, or online.
Can I buy a used breast pump?
Avoid using a breast pump that has already been used by someone else. Used pumps carry the risks of contamination, meaning your baby could become infected with bacteria if the pump has not been properly cleaned.
Hospital-grade pumps are an exception, which are meant to be reused. You can use the accessory kits, which lowers the chances of contamination. Moreover, hospital-grade pumps come with protective barriers and are FDA-approved for multiple users.
How long does pumped breast milk last?
How long pumped breast milk lasts depends on how it is stored:
- Room temperature: Up to 6-8 hours
- Refrigerator: Up to 5 hours
- Freezer: About 6 months (to make the milk last in the freezer longer, store it in the back instead of in the door)
Always remember, however, that the fresher the breast milk, the better. Once refrigerated breast milk comes to room temperature, do not re-refrigerate or freeze it.
How should I clean my breast pump?
Make sure to clean your breast pump so that germs do not multiply on it and get transferred to your baby.
- After each use, wash the pump with soap and warm water, use a brush to clean it thoroughly, rinse under running water, and then air-dry.
- Check the label to see if your pumping equipment is dishwasher-safe. If it is, you can place it on the top shelf of the dishwasher.
- If your baby is premature or has a weakened immune system, sanitize the equipment daily.
Kids Health. "Breastfeeding FAQs: Pumping." <https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/breastfeed-pump.html>.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Pumping Breast Milk." <https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/breastfeeding/pumping-breast-milk.html>.
Top How Should I Be Pumping Related Articles
Baby Starting SolidsThese nutritious foods are great for your baby's first year, and include cereal and baby food. Our experts offer tips on starting solid foods with your baby.
Get the Facts About Bottle FeedingDo you need to warm a bottle? What's the best way to burp your baby? Find out what you need to know about bottle feeding and infant formula.
Better Ways to Feed Your BabyWhat tips and tricks help you introduce healthy foods to your baby's diet. Learn techniques for feeding that work for infants and young children, why babies are such messy eaters, and how your child learns by eating new foods and exploring vegetables, fruits, and other healthy meals.
Breastfeeding (and Formula Feeding)It's important to know whether you will breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby prior to delivery, as the breasts' ability to produce milk diminishes soon after childbirth without the stimulation of breastfeeding. Breast milk is easily digested by babies and contains infection-fighting antibodies and cholesterol, which promotes brain growth. Formula-fed babies actually need to eat somewhat less often since formula is less readily digested by the baby than human milk. This article explores the advantages and disadvantages of both forms of feeding.
What Are the Do's and Don'ts For a Newborn Baby?First-time parents caring for a newborn baby? Learn what to do and what not to do for your brand new child.
How Long Can I Breastfeed My Baby?The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. It is even fine to breastfeed your baby until they are 2 years old if this works for you and your infant.
How Long Should I Pump Milk From Each Breast?Pumping breast milk allows you to continue breastfeeding while someone else feeds your baby. You should pump milk for about 15 minutes from each breast.
Problems When BreastfeedingBreast milk is the best diet for infants. Breastfeeding has several health benefits for the mother and her baby; moreover, it also builds an emotional bonding between them. Experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding until the baby is six months.
What Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding?Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to bond with your baby. It has myriad benefits for you as well as your baby, but you may want to avoid coffee, tea, chocolate, gassy foods, fish, spicy foods, eggs, nuts, milk and peppermint, parsley and sage as they may cause reactions in your baby.