Once you have bought your breast pump, the journey has just begun! There are some mothers who find it pure agony to use a breast pump. However, if you have a good pump and have a fast ejection reflex (let down), the whole pumping process should not take you more than 15 minutes to empty both breasts using a double pump. Below are the following steps to use a breast pump generally:
(1) Wash your hands thoroughly.
(2) Make yourself comfortable by supporting your back and shoulders.
(3) Lay out everything you need within reach especially if you are using an electric pump
(4) Apply warm compresses before pumping or gently massage your breasts, think of your baby or imagine your baby in your arms. This can help stimulate the release of hormones that allows your milk to flow easily which will make your pumping a success.
(5) The more relax you are, the more milk you will be able to pump. Some of the ways are to listen to relaxing music, audio tapes, watching television, reading a book or apply some familiar baby powder.
(6) Read the instructions that accompany your pump and milk collection kit before you begin pumping.
(1) Centre the breast flange over your nipple
(2) Once you have started the pump, your nipple should begin to move in and out without rubbing against the sides of the flange. If the breast flange feels too tight, try on a larger flange.
(3) Continue to massage or gently squeeze your breasts while you are pumping. You may feel like a cow at this point but it tends to expel more of the milk out in greater quantities
(4) Move your breasts in various directions while pumping to pull more milk out of the many milk ducts.
(5) Another key to stimulate and maintain a good milk supply is to express your breast milk with frequency. Additionally, your pumping routine should simulate your baby’s feeding schedule as closely as possible.
(6) If you are the mother of a premature or hospitalized infant, you will need to pump every 3-4 hours (even at night time) until your baby is ready to begin breastfeeding.
(7) If your pump’s suction can be adjusted, always start at the lowest setting before gradually increasing the suction to the highest level at which you are comfortable. On the other hand, if you experience any pain, decrease the suction level until it feels more comfortable.
Length of Pumping
(1) For a single milk collection kit, pump about 15-20 minutes per breast. Switch to your other breast when your milk flow decreases. If you are using a double milk collection kit, pump for 10-15 minutes.
(2) Continue to pump even as your milk flow slows down. This is because this can happen several times before your breasts are fully drained.
(3) If you are using a manually operated breast pump, begin with quick, short squeezes to simulate the way a baby begins the feeding. Once your let-down reflex occurs and the milk is flowing freely, transition to a squeeze-and-hold rhythm as it can be more effective and less tiring.
(1) After each use, completely disassemble your milk collection kit and wash all the parts that come into contact with your milk in hot, soapy water.
(2) By rinsing them with hot water, you can rid any contamination.
(3) Allow all the parts to dry.
(4) Your milk collection kit does not need to be sterilized unless your health care provider or hospital policy clearly state or recommend it.
(5) To sanitize the product, always follow the instructions that come with your milk collection kit as some may differ.
How much do you have to pump?
This depends on a few criteria, namely:
(i) Age of your baby
(ii) Weight of your baby
(iii) Length of time since your breasts were last emptied
(iv) Time of the day
(v) Mother’s stress level
(vi) How established your milk supply is.
Do keep in mind that a vigorously breastfeeding baby can always get more milk from you than the very best breast pump on earth!
For first time mothers, don’t get discouraged if you get very little milk the first time you pump. The effectiveness of pumping improves with practice. As a matter of fact, you can always ask for help from other mothers, a midwife, doula, public health nurse, lactation specialist or the breast pump manufacturers. Give yourself time to learn this new skill. Don’t wait until you get back to work before you learn to pump. That would only add to your stress level and make pumping an arduous task. By planning ahead and learning in advance, your experience will be definitely more positive and enjoyable.