Just like breastfeeding, pumping is a skill that you learn. When first trying a breast pump, most mothers are only able to express a few drops of milk. With proper practice and knowledge, you will become more efficient at pumping!
Preparing the breast pump
1. Read all the instructions in the kit very carefully.
2. Every part of the breast pump will need to be sterilized before you begin using it.
3. After use, all the parts of the pump will need to be washed in warm, soapy water, then rinsed with hot water and drained on a clean towel. The plastic tubing doesn’t need to be cleaned unless you get milk into it. If you do wash it, it shouldbe hung to allow time to dry and drain thoroughly.
4. If your doctor feels the need, the entire kit can be sterilized every day.
5. When you first start with an electric pump, the suction level should be on the lowest possible setting.
How to Use an Electric Breast Pump
Manual Breast Pump
1) Relaxing and realizing that the pump is your friend is the single most important thing that a mother can do. There are several things that a mother can do to help herself relax, such as putting a picture of the baby on the pump, playing cards or a game with friends, watching television, read books, or talk on the phone. Simply watching the collection bottle is not helpful and will probably put more stress on you than you actually need.
2) Seek privacy and avoid distractions. Have everything you might need within reach
3) Warm compresses, gentle massages off the breast and gentle nipple stimulation will help to stimulate a quick let down.
4) You should always relax while doing breast massages during pumping. Some mothers prefer to close their eyes then think about nursing the baby and imagining the baby in their arms. The more relaxed a mother is, the better let down she’ll have and the more milk will be dispensed.
5) Your first attempts at pumping should be considered practice sessions with learning to use the breast pump as the goal, not how much milk is actually dispensed.
6) Manual Pump: When you use a hand pump, quick, short pumps at the start is stimulating and will imitate more closely the way a baby breast feeds. Once the let down occurs and milk starts to flow freely, long, steadier strokes are more effective and less tiring.
7) Electric Pump: Place the assembled breast shields on your breasts. Hold the shields, and not the attached bottles, so you can adjust them as needed. Make sure the shields are centered over the nipples. If the placement is off, the suction can be damaging.
8) Turn the machine on.
9) Milk will usually start to flow within two minutes. At that point, some machines, such as Medela pumps and Philips AVENT pumps, will adjust in speed. If your pump doesn’t adjust by itself, it’s helpful to vary the speed so that it’s inconsistent, similar to the sucking motions of a baby.
10) Find a speed that is comfortable and efficient. Pumping should never be painful.
11) When your milk flow has slowed down and you feel as though you’re finished, turn off the pump.
12) Remove the breast shields.
13) When you learn to pump, you should practice for 5 minutes on a side at least once or twice a day. Always pick the least stressful part of your day for pumping.
14) The milk is okay at room temperature for four to six hours. The Centers for Disease Control says it is safe to refrigerate breast milk for up to five days. When stored in a chest or upright deep freezer, the milk keeps for six to 12 months.
Related Article: What to Look for When Choosing a Breast Pump