Pumping Breast Milk How-To

In my last post about pumping breast milk, I talked about how to choose a breast pump that fits your needs – manual or electric. Once you have decided on one, how do you proceed in pumping and storing your breast milk?

Your breast pump will most likely come with everything you need to pump – the pump itself, the shields that attach to your breasts, the tubes to attach the shields and bottles to the pump (for electric pumps), and probably a couple of bottles to pump the milk into. Many pumps come with more than one size shield, so you should first determine which size fits you best for optimal comfort. Your electric pump may be single or double. Double pumps are great time savers and also allow you to pump only one side at a time if that is what you prefer. Here are some.

Quick Tips to Get Started Pumping Breast Milk

  • Wash your hands & make sure all your equipment is sterile. I always run mine through the dishwasher on the hottest cycle to sterilize it, but make sure your equipment is dishwasher safe before doing this.
  • If you are trying to pump more milk while on your baby’s regular feeding schedule, pump about one hour prior or one hour after feeding your baby.
  • If you seem to not be getting much milk during your pumping sessions, try pumping in the morning. For most women, their milk supply is highest this time of day. (I can usually pump twice as much in the morning as if I pump in the afternoon or evening.)
  • If your pump has an adjustable suction level, start at the lowest level until your milk lets down, then steadily increase the suction if you need to.

If you are using an electric pump, the machine will express the milk for you into a container. If you are pumping manually, you will be using either a squeeze mechanism or a plunger to express the milk yourself. You can anticipate spending approximately 10 to 15 minutes pumping if you use an electric pump and about 45 minutes when pumping manually, depending on the volume you are expressing and the quality of your pump.

A good electric pump mimics a baby’s sucking, so this should never be painful, and it is very efficient. Using the right size shields on your breast will help with comfort. You should not feel pain or pinch from the shields.

This is just a quick overview of some of the information that I found helpful when I started out pumping, but as always, be sure to follow the instructions provided by your pump’s manufacturer. In my next blog, I will cover storage methods for your pumped milk.

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