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How to Use a Breast Pump?

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Breast pump is the perfect solution for mothers who want to re-join the work or simply need a break from hectic breastfeeding schedule. Using it, you can pump and collect milk and store it for feeding purposes.

If you are beginner or new to using breast pump, then this article will help you use it the right way.

Here, we shall discuss how to use a breast pump the right way with utmost efficiency, comfort, and ease.

Let us get started.

How to use a Breast Pump?

The answer to this question is not a one-step process. Instead, it is a step-by-step procedure that one has to follow. Whether you are using a manual or an electric pump, below is the sequence you need to follow for effective results.

  • The initial step in the process is to clean the breast pump and your hands thoroughly before you start pumping.
  • Next, refer to the user manual for all the necessary instructions on how to assemble the kit before using it.
  • Look for a comfortable place where you can sit peacefully and relaxed. Now, take the breastfeeding position before you get started.
  • Now, keep massaging your breasts gently for a couple of minutes to stay hydrated.
  • After that, start thinking about your child. This will help to trigger the hormones and stimulate the release of milk.
  • Remove the breast pump flange from the kit, and position it directly over your nipple. Check whether it forms a shield around it or not to ensure it fitted exactly.
  • Begin pumping by pressing the flange gently. It may take a couple of minutes, after which the milk will start flowing.
  • If it is an electric pump, adjust the pumping speed and suction settings to high and low, respectively. Now, start the pump.
  • After the milk starts flowing, adjust the pumping speed to medium and select a comfortable level for the suction.
  • You will have to continue the pumping process for nearly 15 minutes. If you want to pump both breasts, make sure you switch the pumping for every five minutes. In the end, the total stimulation of both breasts should be 15 minutes.
  • If you notice any slowdown in the milk flow, increase the pump rate. You can adjust it back to the medium speed once the flow is normal.
  • If necessary, keep altering the pump speeds to fast and slow during the breast pumping process.
  • After you finish pumping, remove the flange. Now unscrew the bottle from it and seal it with a cap.
  • As the final step, wash your hands thoroughly. Clean and sterilize all the parts of the pump kit, and store them in a safe place until their next use.

Mothers who are using the breast pump for the first time may find it a little uncomfortable initially. However, they will start getting comfortable with it and no longer find it odd once they get a hang of it. Breast pumping should not cause you pain. Although you may feel a little uneasy in the first few seconds of the process, you will get used to it. However, not using it the right way or not following the correct procedure may result in a painful experience. Hence, one needs to have complete knowledge of the pumping process to ensure healthy nursing of milk to the baby.

Let us proceed with other crucial parts of the breast pumping process.

What is the Best Time to Pump?

You may ask us what is the best time to use my breast pump? Well, it is entirely dependent on the mother and her situation. If it is a working mother who has to stay away from the child during work, she may have to do it frequently. This allows collecting plenty of milk supply for the child at the scheduled time, during her absence.

The best time to pump is between 1 am and 5 am. It is during this time most mothers have the milk supply in excess. You can pump the milk, collect it and store it for later use. You can also pump a lot of milk after the first feed in the morning from both breasts.

How Much Milk Should I Pump?

The common question that many mothers have is regarding the quantity of milk that they should pump. Let me tell you, it is again dependent on the mother. Since several factors come into play, it is up to the mother to take a call. She should consider all those aspects like the baby’s age, the time when she is doing it, the frequency of feeding or pumping, the pump quality, etc. Based on these factors, she can decide how much milk she needs to pump daily. The other prominent rule in this process is to empty both breasts while breast pumping. And, this may take you about 25 – 30 minutes.

To ensure whether your breasts are empty after you finish the process, continue pumping for a couple of minutes. This will help you confirm that the pumping finished successfully.

To help you gain a better understanding of the same, we listed down some important points. This will teach you how much amount of milk you should pump based on your baby’s age.

  • If your baby is about 5 to 7-day old, the amount of milk you should pump is up to 2 oz.
  • If your baby is about 1 to 3 weeks old, then you should pump up to 3 oz of milk.
  • If your baby is four weeks to six months old, up to 5 oz of milk is the expected amount you should pump.

Do not worry if you cannot pump more than 2 oz of break milk during the first few days after delivery. The average amount that any mother pumps at that time is about 2 oz, and it is absolutely normal.

When to Start Pumping?

Yet another question that many mothers often ask is when to start pumping? You can start doing it whenever you feel like it is the right time. However, your situation will determine the correct time when you should do that.

Let us say you are a new mom who gave birth to your baby just a while ago. It is always good to start pumping the milk immediately after the baby is born. Doing so will not only encourage the milk supply but also initiates breastfeeding. Hence, it is always advisable to start early, especially if your baby is premature and you may not be able to nurse it.

It does not matter at what time you started the breast pumping. All that matters is you should be well-equipped with the process by the time your child is 4 – 6 weeks old. The next crucial thing to keep note of is that there should be enough intervals between each session.

This enables you to pump extra milk that you can store for later use. If you are planning to return to work again, this is what you can do. Start pumping two to three weeks ahead of your work to ensure you have a stock in hand.

What is a Power Pump and How to Do it?

Power pumping is a technique that helps in emptying the breasts by rapid pumping. It helps in increasing the milk supply naturally so that you can feed your baby frequently. The other upside of power pumping is it increases the production of prolactin, a hormone responsible for stimulating breast milk production. You can do a power pumping any time twice in a day as per your convenience. You can collect the milk in an adequate amount to cater to the nursing demands of your baby.

The process generally lasts for about one hour. Here are the steps to follow:

  • You can continuously power pump for about 20 minutes.
  • Give a break for about 10 minutes, and then start power pumping again for another 10 minutes.
  • Again, take a break for about 10 minutes and then continue pumping for another 10 minutes.
  • Repeat this process until you finish the one-hour schedule.
  • Alternatively, you can even have two 30-minute sessions. You can do this by pumping for 10 minutes and resting for five minutes.
  • Now, power pump for another 10 minutes and then take rest for 5 minutes.
  • Repeat this process until you finish the 30-minute procedure.

After you finish power pumping for the day, you can normally proceed with the regular breast pumping sessions. Usually, most mothers may notice an increase in the milk supply within three days from the power pumping. However, some moms may observe the same in a week’s time.

How Often do I Need to Pump?

How frequently you ought to breast pump? Well, it is advisable to pump in between the feeding sessions. Doing it when you are with your baby helps in enhancing your milk supply. However, if you are at work and want to pump, you can try this. Start pumping at the same time as you feed your baby at home. This will help in maintaining the milk supply and cater to the nursing demands of your child. Hence, the frequency of breast pumps is every three to four hours a day.

If you want to know how long you should spend on pumping, it is dependent on the individual alone. However, we suggest you do it for at least 15 – 20 minutes in each session to ensure you are pumping a good amount of milk. You can even pump until you feel that your breasts are empty or a slowdown in the milk flow. It is strictly recommended to clean and sterilize the breast flanges and the pump kit after each use.

If the Breast Pump Causes any Discomfort or Pain While Pumping?

Breast pumping is usually a painless process. Initially, for the first few seconds, one may find a little discomfort. After that, the mother will be fine and comfortable with the procedure. Other than this, if you notice any discomfort while breast pumping like pain, soreness, or chafing, stop the process immediately. Below are few considerations you need to check for to ensure there is no uneasy going forward.

  • Check for the pumping speed and suction settings.
  • Check for the breast pump flange size. Not using the correct size may also cause discomfort.
  • Try changing the flange position on the nipple. The shield may not fit exactly to the nipple and hence causing discomfort.
  • Never over-pump the breast milk. Make sure you are not doing it for more than 30 minutes. Over-pumping may also result in pain and uneasiness.

Check for the above points, as they could be the primary triggers. If you still feel discomfort after fixing everything, stop breast pumping immediately. Consult a lactation expert who can help you in resolving this issue.

How to Store Breast Milk Without Spoiling?

While breast pumping is one crucial task, storing the collected breast milk carefully without spoiling is yet another essential thing. A nursing mother should always be aware of how to safely store the milk. Most breast pump kits come with custom breast milk storage containers for storing. You can use them to store the milk for later use. For other models that do not come with any such containers, you may use the standard milk bottles for storing.

There are specialized plastic bags for storing expressed breast milk. These are exclusively designed for collecting and storing purposes. When you are storing them in the refrigerator, make sure you fill the milk to up to 3/4 part of the bag. You can also refrigerate them in small quantities for easy melting and feeding.

Generally, the expressed milk will stay fresh for up to four hours when you keep it at room temperature. If you are refrigerating them, the milk will stay fresh and safe for up to four days. If you are freezing them, you can store them for up to six months. It is best advisable to label each bottle while storing and use them as per the FIFO (First-in, First-out) basis.

Conclusion

I hope this article gave you a complete understanding of using a breast pump the right way. Make sure you follow all the necessary steps and tips mentioned above. Also, do not forget to clean and sterilize all the parts of the breast pump kit carefully before storing them for next use.

Write to us in the comments section below if you still have any questions on breast pumps or need more information on the same. Let us know if you have any inputs to add to this article.

We would love to hear from you.

Stay home and stay safe!!!

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