Breast Pumping Guide: When and How Long to Pump
The moment a woman gets to know that she is pregnant to the moment she gives birth to her child is the best phase of her life. The happiness in a woman’s eye when she sees herself with a baby bump in the mirror, to imagine if it’s going to be a boy or girl, and to actually give birth to the child. The journey is unparalleled. The day a woman gets pregnant, her shoulder’s responsibility doubles as now she has to take care of two lives, one herself and other her child. Many people think that a woman is relieved from this responsibility once she gives birth to the child, but that is not true. The responsibility increases even more as now that little child is in this world, and it is the mother’s responsibility to protect her child and to contribute to the growth of the child.
Once the baby is born, you are so delighted to see those little souls. Holding those tiny fingers and watching them sleep, kissing them everywhere and holding them whenever they cry. The experience is fascinating. But with all of these majestic experiences also comes a greater responsibility. To keep that tiny being alive and healthy. Infant babies cannot eat food immediately after birth. They only consume breast milk for the first six months. Even after that, they consume smaller quantities of food and lesser amounts of breast milk. Breastfeeding is the traditional method through which a child consumes milk directly from the breast. But today, there are several reasons due to which women want to avoid breastfeeding entirely or partially. Breast Pumping is another method through which a woman can store her milk and provide it to the child as and when required. Whether you are breastfeeding and looking for an increase in milk amount or exclusively pumping, understanding the process is important. Here we will discuss about all the reasons behind pumping, how to pump, when to pump, how long to pump etc.
Reasons Behind Breast Pumping
There are several reasons why women choose pumping instead of breastfeeding. The reason could be due to natural scenarios or could be a decision. Following are some of the common reasons:
- When you want to store milk for the time when you will be away from your child. You may have to go to the office, to leave the child with a caretaker or family, or have to go outstation. To cover any of these factors, you may choose breast pumping.
- To meet excess demand of milk. A child’s demand for the milk is not constant. Someday he/she might be more hungry or less hungry as compared to other days. To meet this unexpected demand breast pumping is used to store milk for such situations.
- If your baby is unable to feed directly from the breast, then breast pumping could be used.
- When a mother is unable to or doesn’t want to breastfeed her child for some reason, then breast pumping is an alternative method.
- Many women also breast pump to increase the supply of milk.
Apart from these, there are several other reasons behind why women choose breast pumping, or you should choose breast pumping. It is up to a mother to make decisions regarding what method she actually wants to follow, as she knows which method is best for herself and her child.
How Often you Should Pump:
If there is one question that bothers a lot of women is how often they should pump. Well, one should understand that there is no fundamental, universally accepted standard for this. This is purely based on the comfort of the mother, availability of breast milk, the number of times a child consumes it and the level of consumption of the child at each time. All of these factors are different for each individual.
On average, a baby of age between 6 weeks to 6 months consumes around 1 ounce of milk every hour. 1 ounce is equivalent to 30ml. So if you do the math, a baby may need something around 24 ounces of milk per day or 720ml. You have to calculate how much milk you produce in a single session. For example, if you pump around 4 ounces of milk in one go, you have to pump at least 8 times a day to fulfill your child’s demand. You should also keep one or two sessions of milk as a safety stock as many times a child could be more hungry and may consume more than usual.
Pump both of the breasts as it will save your time. A woman’s breasts are fullest in the morning so try to pump as much as possible in the morning. The remaining quantity should be distributed among sessions with an equal gap period. If you don’t keep a specific gap between two pumping sessions, then it may affect your milk supply.
If you are breastfeeding the child as well as breast pumping, then the scenario may be different. Suppose your child has 8 food sessions in a day and in each session, 3 ounces of milk is consumed. And if the child is breastfed three times a day, then the woman needs to manage the stock for the other five sessions through breast pumping.
How Long You Should Pump:
Just like the number of times a woman needs to vary from woman to woman, so as the duration of the pumping. Ideally, the pumping should be done until the breasts are empty of milk. The ideal time for pumping the breast is approx 15-20 minutes. You can even pump both of your breasts simultaneously to save time.
Breast pumping is such a precise and attentive class that any mishandling of breasts or wrongly pumping can lead to several damages to the breast. A woman should maintain a healthy diet so that her milk productivity remains constant. There are several methods for breast pumping, from manual breast pumping to a powered breast pump. You can use whichever method suits you best. One should even consult her doctor to understand how many times she should pump in a day and how long she should do that. She should also consult the doctor for knowing which process is better for her, breastfeeding or breast pumping, or both of them simultaneously. Your doctor or a certified lactation consultant can help you process all this information and can consult you with the most suitable option for you. In no time, you will be pumping like a pro.