How To Use A Breast Pump - A Helpful Guide

How To Use A Breast Pump - A Helpful Guide

Should one use a breast pump or not is a question that many new mothers face in the initial years of nursing.

Do you also wonder if using the pump will make you distant from your baby?

Is it as healthy as naturally breastfeeding your child?

Does it make you a bad mom to give your child expressed milk?

The truth is that breastfeeding is the best way to nourish your child during the initial months.

However, the good news is that expressing breast milk to feed your baby is equally good and will not reduce the bond you share with your baby in any way and will definitely not make you a bad mom. After all, you are going through far more trouble and effort simply to give your baby the nutrition she deserves.

So here is all you need to know about breast pumps and expressed milk to help you make an informed decision.

When should you choose a breast pump?

There are several reasons why women may choose to use the pump. Some of these are:

  • The baby is a preemie or is too unwell or weak for natural feeding.
  • The baby is unable to latch on to the nipple correctly.
  • You have inverted nipples that need correction.
  • You need to relieve the pressure of engorgement from time to time.
  • You are a working mom who needs to feed the baby in her absence.
  • You have a busy day ahead and may have to skip one feeding session.
  • You need to improve the milk production and supply.

Also read: Breastpumping Guide – When & How to Pump

The types of breast pumps you can use

Breast pumps are of four types and based on your requirement you can pick the one that suits you the best:

#1. Manual pumps

Operated by hand, these pumps are a little cumbersome to use, but can easily fit into your handbag. They are inexpensive and do not make any noise. However, they are best suited for occasional use only.

#2. Battery operated pumps

As they work on batteries these pumps are suitable for women who are partially breastfeeding and need to pump once or twice a day only. These pumps are not strong enough to pump for long or stimulate a regular milk supply. If you are using this type of breast pump always keep spare batteries with you.

#3. Electric personal use pumps

These pumps are perfect for mums who need to express milk regularly, throughout the day. They help maintain a regular supply of milk and even increase it over a period. Electric pumps are larger and need to be connected to an electric point to function.

#4. Hospital grade pumps

These pumps are usually available for use by new mums while they are in the hospital. They are ideal for mothers who are experiencing difficulty breastfeeding during the initial days. More than one person uses them and they come with parts that can and must be sterilized after each use. They are very strong pumps and are designed to drain the breasts out completely to help build better supply.

Also read: The Ultimate Breastfeeding Guide

Breast Pumps To Avoid

Bulb-style breast pumps are best avoided due to their shape and structure. Not only are they inefficient in drawing out sufficient quantities of milk, they can also harm the breasts by exerting improper suction. These pumps are also unhygienic and difficult to sterilize.

How to use a breast pump?

Before you begin to express milk, make sure that you find a place that is comfortable for you to sit and lends you adequate privacy to express in peace. Wash your hands well to avoid germs and contaminants from getting into the milk. Expressing milk takes some time, so make sure you have some water and a snack handy.

Here are some tips to use the pump:

  • Make sure the pump is working correctly.
  • Assemble the kit.
  • Always ensure that the parts of the breast pump that come in contact with the milk, such as bottles and the suction cup are sterilized before using.
  • Place the flanges with the nipple in the center of the opening. This creates an air seal.
  • If you are double pumping (i.e. pumping from both breasts at the same time), support your breast from below by placing your fingers on your rib cage to keep the seal in place.
  • Turn the pump on. Start with low suction. Slowly increase the intensity. This process is similar to the way a baby suckles and helps stimulate the milk ‘let down’.
  • Once the milk is fully expressed, use your hands to massage out the remaining few drops of fatty milk before slowly decreasing the intensity of pumping and shutting down.

How much should you pump?

The amount of pumping depends upon several factors. The most important point to consider is your need. Are you breastfeeding primarily or pumping exclusively?

For moms who are expressing exclusively, you need to produce about 0.7- 1 liter of milk each day. This is the full milk production that a breastfeeding mom achieves by the time the baby is two weeks old. This helps maintain regular breast milk supply to satisfy the needs of your baby during the first six months.

The other factors that govern the amount of pumping include the time of the day as well. For moms who are primarily breastfeeding, the best time to pump is in the morning. The volume will decrease as the day progresses and the volume that you produce each day is different based on your food intake.

The age of your child also influences the amount you need to pump in order to satiate your little one’s hunger.  In addition to this, the type of breast pump and your mood to play a vital role.

When women are stressed or depressed their milk supply is seen to dwindle.

Also read: Breast Engorgement – Causes and Solutions

Maintaining full milk production

For mothers who are primarily relying on expressed milk, reaching a constant and sufficient milk supply is necessary. The amount you need to pump changes as your baby grows.  

From Birth to Day 4

This is the period when you are establishing a steady milk supply.

  • If possible, pump milk within six hours of the baby being born. You will get the nutritious colostrum in the beginning.
  • During this phase, pump for 10-15 minutes every three hours. At night, do not give a gap of more than four hours before pumping. This means you will be pumping at least 8-10 times in 24 hours.
  • Double pump to establish better milk supply and speed up the process.
  • You may have to pump for about 10-20 minutes for the milk to come in on the 3rd and 4th day.
  • Pumping twice from 1a.m. to 6 a.m. can boost milk production immensely.

Day 4 to two weeks

  • Pump for a longer time now. 15-30 minutes works for most moms. Pumping even after the last drop is expressed is useful.
  • Pump at least 8-10 times per day.
  • Do not let the gap between two pumps be more than 5 hours for at least the first two weeks.

After two weeks

  • Once your baby is two weeks old, you should be able to generate a steady, full milk production of 0.7-1 liter each day.
  • You will experience that you are able to pump out milk more easily and faster now.
  • Most mums find 10-15 minutes on each breast sufficient to maintain the supply.
  • You can now slowly reduce the number of pumping to 7 times a day and then come down to five. If your milk supply does not dwindle, go steady at five times a day.
  • Maintain a schedule and follow the timetable.

How to wean from the pump?

If you want to stop pumping milk, you need to do it slowly. There are two options available:

  • Reduce one pump every two to three days.
  • Reduce the time per pump every two to three days.

Also read: What My Breast Cancer Experience Taught Me – Mom Story

How to store expressed milk?

Freshly pumped milk can be refrigerated for about eight hours and frozen for 3-4 months to use it safely.

Once thawed, the milk must not be frozen again and should be consumed in 24 hours. You can store the milk in airtight glass bottles, in plastic bottles that are BPA free, or in special breast milk freezing bags.

Always remember, that breast milk is most nutritious for your baby, whichever way you choose to feed. So go ahead and find the way that suits you best to give your little one the best gift only a mother can give.

Also read: 6 Benefits Of Comfort Breast Feeding

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