In this Article
- What is a Breast Pump?
- When Can You Start Using a Breast Pump?
- What is a Breast Pump Used for?
- How to Use a Breast Pump?
- When to Express Breast Milk by Hand and How Do You Do It?
- How Much to Pump Breast Milk?
- How to Store Breast Milk?
- Where to Store Breast Milk after Pumping?
- How to Freeze and Thaw Breast Milk?
- What are the Different Types of Breast Pumps?
- What are the Reasons You are Facing Difficulty Pumping Breast Milk?
With mothers becoming increasingly conscious about taking care of their children in every possible way, but without compromising on their career, one essential in every new mother’s bag is a breast pump. This is also very beneficial for mothers who are suffering from any lactation issues, or simply want to also include their partner and family members in the process of feeding the baby. Easily available in many different types, breast pumps not only help feed the baby when the mother is not around but have multiple other benefits too. Read on for an overview of this clever device.
What is a Breast Pump?
A breast pump is a machine which mimics the sucking action of a baby to help express breast milk. It consists of a breast phalange or shield which fits over the nipple, a pump which is operated either manually, or by electricity, and a bottle where the expressed milk collects.
When Can You Start Using a Breast Pump?
You can choose to start using a milk suction pump as soon as your baby is born in case there are medical issues which are coming in the way of nursing. Premature babies who find it difficult to latch on, multiples, or children with special needs may also necessitate early pumping. However, if nursing is progressing well, doctors recommended waiting from one to three weeks before introducing the bottle to avoid nipple confusion.
What is a Breast Pump Used for?
Used for expressing breast milk, a breast pump is not only essential for mothers who want to return to work or take a break from breastfeeding, but also helps maintain or even increase milk supply.
Why Breast Pump is Used: Pumping stimulates the production of milk and is an effective solution for mothers experiencing lactation issues. A breast pump alleviates discomfort caused by engorged breasts too.
How to Use a Breast Pump?
Getting started with your breast pump is as easy as one-two-three! Simply place the breast shield over your nipple, and pump to start expressing. If you are using an electric or a battery operated pump, this simply involves switching it on, but if you are using a manual pump, you will need to pump it manually.
Tips to Pump Breast Milk
Here are a few tips which will help in preparing to pump breast milk:
- Relax: Finding a quiet spot to relax helps encourage let-down
- Massage: A quick breast massage, leaning over to let gravity do its part, or a warm compress help you start off
- Invest in a hands-free pumping bra: This bra holds the pump in place leaving you free to read a book, text or even work on your computer. Some mothers even make their own hands-free bras by cutting holes in an old sports bra or attaching rubber bands to a nursing bra
- Start at the lowest setting: When using an electric pump, do make sure you start at the lowest setting and increase it gradually as you get comfortable
When to Express Breast Milk by Hand and How Do You Do It?
If you prefer to nurse your baby, and only occasionally feel the need to express milk, pumping breast milk by hand may be the right option for you. Here is how to do it:
- Wash your hands: Babies are sensitive, and it is important to maintain hygiene at all times
- Massage: A gentle breast massage or a warm towel help stimulate let-down, making it easier to express milk. You could even lean forward to let gravity help
- Getting the right position: Using your thumb and index finger, form a C about an inch behind your areola
- Express: Press your fingers towards your chest wall and use a gently rolling motion to express milk
- Storing: Collect the expressed milk in a clean bottle for storing
How Much to Pump Breast Milk?
How much you pump mainly depends on how much your little one consumes. It is not always necessary to pump in excess, so don’t get unduly worried if you are unable to pump in large quantities.
- There no set rule about how often you should pump breast milk. Pumping breast milk primarily depends on how old your baby is. Over a period of time, the amount of milk you can pump gradually increases
- How much you wish to pump also depends on how your breasts feel after you have pumped.
- How much you need to pump will also depend on how big your milk-making glands are. Remember that the size of your glands is different from the size of your breasts
- A good pump can pump both breasts in about 20 to 30 minutes if you let down fast
- With continuous practice, you will be able to pump more milk, as your breasts get adjusted to the pump and give you quality milk
- Keep a significant time difference in between two pumping sessions to ensure that you get similar quantities of milk.
- It is more important to know how much milk your baby gets in the 24-hour time period and not per feeding
There is no single rule about how much breast milk to pump. So, pump your breast milk at your own convenience and according to your baby’s needs. Nobody knows your body better than you do.
How to Store Breast Milk?
Storing breast milk can be quite tricky as the fat content of the milk is continuously undergoing change. The first thing you should be careful about is dating your milk. This allows you to know when you pumped the milk and use the oldest one first.
- You can store breast milk in a plastic or glass container which is air tight, to keep it fresh for a longer period of time
- Usually, the pump comes with a storage container with a measurement scale, allowing you to store milk according to your baby’s consumption
- The milk can be stored in the freezer for a certain duration depending on the temperature, although it is better to make sure the baby consumes the milk in the earlier periods, since with time, its nutritional value diminishes
Where to Store Breast Milk after Pumping?
Pumping milk from breasts becomes a relief when you know that there is stored milk in your freezer. You do not have to keep undergoing the process every time. This milk can be kept fresh form two weeks to twelve months. However, keep the following pointers in mind when you are storing it.
How to Freeze and Thaw Breast Milk?
Time is a major constraint in freezing and thawing breast milk. If the thawed milk is not consumed within 24 hours of refrigerating or after 1 hour at room temperature, it will spoil. A disadvantage about thawed milk is that it cannot be frozen again. The following should help you keep your milk fresh and in good quality.
1. Freezing Breast Milk
- While freezing, remember to keep it in containers according to the portion suitable for your baby. If 50 ml is consumed per intake, store it accordingly. This helps you to make sure that you do not waste milk.
- Do not freeze it in containers from which you cannot dispose it easily. This not only increases the hassle but also allows impurities to seep in.
2. Thawing Breast Milk
- Always remember that the milk needs to be thawed and not boiled. Hold the container which has the milk in it under warm water until it reaches a suitable temperature.
- You can also let it defrost in the main compartment overnight and use it at room temperature the next day.
- Do not use the microwave for defrosting or warming as it kills the nutrients in the milk. Hot spots may also develop, decreasing the quality of the milk.
3. How Long can Breast Milk be Stored?
- If you are storing the milk in the freezer section of your refrigerator, it will stay fresh for a maximum of two weeks. The sooner you can use this milk, the better it is.
- Some refrigerators have a separate compartment as a freezer. As this is opened less frequently, and at 0⁰ F, it keeps the milk fresh for three to six months.
- Deep freezers, comparatively, keep the milk fresh the longest. It can be preserved for a maximum of twelve months.
- However, if you like the milk to be fresh and consumed within a day, the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the best way to store breastmilk is at room temperature for six to eight hours
What are the Different Types of Breast Pumps?
There are several types of breast pumps that cater to the needs of all the mothers depending on their requirement with multiple modulation. However, these dominantly fall under three major types. Using the pumps depends on your comfort level and practice. Start at a lower suction rate and gradually increase the setting to match the amount you can pump.
1. Manual Milk Feeding Pump
Using breast shield to cover your breast, you can express milk from the breast, squeezing the lever which creates a suction.
2. Electric Pump
This breast pump uses electricity to operate, allowing the mother to continuously use the pump and even adjust the degree of suction
3. How Do You Choose a Breast Pump
For smooth and problem-free pumping, you need a pump that is of good quality and works well over time. A manual pump or an electric pump that does not work very well over time can hinder the expression of milk. A high-quality electric double pump might give you better results
What are the Reasons You are Facing Difficulty Pumping Breast Milk?
Pumping breast milk takes a little bit of patience and a little bit of time. Adjusting your schedule to accommodate it might create issues some time as you might not always be able to find time to pump when you lactate. However, once you get the hang of the lactation time periods, you can conveniently pump milk keeping the following factors in mind which might also create difficulty while pumping.
1. A Fussy Baby
It is important for you to be relaxed for let-down to take place. If your baby is fussing, you may not be able to pump effectively
2. If Your Little One has Just Finished Feeding
This is not the best time to prepare a new batch. Give your body some time. Relax a little and eventually start pumping. Remember, there is no rush. Your baby and your breasts understand when to accommodate each other
3. Not Knowing the Rate of How Fast or How Slow to Pump Is
If you try to pump at a faster rate, chances are that you will not be able to pump any milk at all. At the same time, pumping at a slower rate won’t create enough suction
4. Inappropriate Size of the Breast Shields
The right-sized shield is important for successful pumping. Using an inappropriate size might cause your nipples swell up when you start the pump. In this case, the quantity of milk expressed might not be a lot and you may also end up with pain in the breast region
5. Scant Lactation
Keep your body hydrated at all times. Frequently breastfeeding and pumping can help resolve the issue by preventing the milk from drying up and increasing the flow of breast milk
During the pumping process, it is very important for you to be relaxed. If you and your body aren’t relaxed, you will not get sufficient results at the end of it. If you still have difficulties, gently massage your breasts and use warm compresses on them before pumping. Be comfortable, close your eyes, and go to your happy place while pumping
Pumping breast milk is rapidly catching up among new-age mums as it lets you fulfil your baby’s needs while also bringing you convenience. Attaching a machine to your breasts might be scary as it is a relatively new idea, but with the convenient methods that are coming up, mums around the globe are readily accepting this. When in doubt, talk to other women who use various breastfeeding methods and seek help. Sometimes, talking to others who are on the same journey might give your deeper insights into catering to the needs of your baby.
Also remember that when it comes to the wellbeing of your baby, multiple factors may come into play. What to expect in the process of child-rearing becomes the priority of every parent. Fathers too play an active role in it. Breast pumps help ensure that feeding is not only a mother’s job but the father can pitch in to help too.