Nursing 101: Breast pumping tips

Breast pumping refers to the manner of manually expressing milk through the aid of a pump. Many mums these days choose to pump their breast milk for a number of reasons. (For one, it means daddy can feed the baby too when you need a quick catnap!) If you’ve just begun nursing, here are some breast pumping tips to get you started.

Buying your breast pump

Breast pumps come in manual and electric versions. They vary in prices, and you might find you prefer one over the other. Here are some things to consider when buying your pump:

  • Size or adequacy to hold the needed amount per pump.
  • Longevity of an electric pump.
  • Quality and efficacy of the pump – a hospital grade pump is the best choice for increasing milk supply as it can pump both breasts, at the same time.


RELATED: What you should know when you start pumping

Start breast pumping

You might wonder where to begin when you start to pump. Should you continue to nurse by breast? How much breast milk can you store? Start with these breast pumping tips:

  • Make a plan. Decide on the duration, frequency and schedule of pumping.
  • Collect needed materials. Choose what type of pump is most preferable. It can either be a manual pump or an electrically operated one. The bags or bottles you use must be sterilized and air dried thoroughly before use.
  • Wash hands properly and clean breast area with plain warm water. Pat dry, preferably with a sterile gauze. If tissue is used, small particles may be left along the nipple area, posing a risk for milk contamination.
  • Set the mood. Choose a well ventilated room. Sit comfortably and focus your thoughts on the goal you’ve set yourself for the procedure. Have the reassurance that what you are doing is beneficial to your baby as not to let guilt or frustration seep in. The letdown reflex of a lactating woman is affected by her mood. A relaxing environment leads to a happy disposition, hence, milk production and letdown reflex is enhanced.
  • Massage the breast area to stimulate milk secretion.
  • Pump gently. Excessive pressure on the breast may result in decreased milk secretion.
  • Store expressed milk according to planned schedule of use.


RELATED: Study shows breastfeeding keeps you heart-healthy

How often to pump

Some women will set their own schedule, but here’s a good guideline of how often and when you should pump:

  • 8-10 times pumps per day
  • At least once during the night in the first few months or any time you notice a decrease in supply, but don’t go longer than 5-6 hours without pumping during the first few months.



RELATED: Ouch! What do I do about my sore nipples while breastfeeding?

How long to pump

Again, knowing how long to pump can be confusing. Do what feels right to you, but keep these breast pumping tips and guidelines in mind:

  • Pump at least 10 minutes, but no more than 20 minutes per session.
  • Double pump for 10-15 minutes per session for additional stimulation
  • If baby nurses but does not soften the breast well, double pump for 10-15 minutes after nursing.
  • Completely extract milk out of the breast. Then keep pumping for 2-5 minutes after the last drops of milk. Use breast massage prior to pumping, and massage and compressions during pumping to better empty the breasts and increase pumping output.


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