Breastmilk Pumping For Beginners
Breast pumps come in many shapes and styles. And while it can seem overwhelming at first, learning how to use a breast pump can be simple!
If you plan on breastfeeding your baby, you’ll probably want to buy or rent a breast pump to have on hand! Using a breast pump can be incredibly helpful to new moms for a variety of reasons. For starters, pumping can help stimulate your milk supply to increase, especially in the early days. You may also want to pump milk so another caregiver can feed your baby while you catch up on rest. If you plan on returning to work after your baby is born, you’ll need a breast pump to keep up your milk supply while you’re away from your baby. Lastly, mothers that overproduce milk can pump and donate their breastmilk to moms in need! A quality breast pump is a great tool for new moms to have.
Although breastfeeding is a wonderful bonding experience between a mother and her baby, it can be painful in the beginning, especially as your baby perfects her latch! Pumping can also cause soreness.
If you’re concerned about pain, try some of these tips:
- Buy lanolin cream to put on your nipples between feedings. This can also help keep the breast pump firmly sealed to your breast while you pump.
- Buy cooling gel pads to wear in your bra between pumping sessions.
- Choose soft, reusable cloth breast pads instead of disposable ones which can be scratchy and irritating.
- Massage your breasts before you begin a pumping session.
- Make sure you are using the right size flanges. The ones that come standard with your breast pump aren’t guaranteed to be the size that you need!
If you’re spending a good amount of time away from your baby, it might be difficult to get your milk flowing when you begin a pumping session.
If you’re finding it hard to get a letdown when you pump, try some of these pointers:
- Look at pictures or videos of your baby while you pump.
- Record your baby’s fussing or crying before a feeding session and play that sound before you begin pumping.
- Massage your breasts or use a warm compress to stimulate your milk.
- Bring an item that smells like your baby, such as a blanket or a onesie, to put around your neck or over your shoulder while you pump.
- As difficult as it is, try to relax. Bring a lighthearted book or magazine to read as you pump.
- Try listening to calming music or watching a comedic show while you pump.
- If you can’t stop staring at the bottles while you pump, try covering them with baby socks until the pumping session is over.
Some mothers worry about keeping up their milk supply. It can be discouraging to see other moms brag about their “freezer stash” or how much milk they produce by pumping around the clock.
While it is normal for your milk production to drop during certain times, such as when you are on your period, when you are stressed, or when you’ve spent a good deal of time away from your baby, there are certain things you can try that might increase your milk supply.
- Make sure you are drinking enough fluids and eating enough calories.
- Keep a pumping schedule and pump between nursing sessions.
- Set an alarm to pump a few times at night once your baby starts sleeping through the night.
- Try consuming lactation teas, lactation cookies, or trying herbal supplements (be sure to ask your doctor before trying any new medication or supplements while breastfeeding).
Try “power pumping.” Start by gently massaging the breasts. Then, pump for 20 minutes. Take a break for 10 minutes. Pump for another 10 minutes. Take another 10-minute break. Then pump for 10 minutes. Try hand expressing milk as well. This power pumping session will replace one regular pumping session.
You will also need to keep in mind when you should replace pump parts. If your breast pump hasn’t been used for over a year, it’s probably best to purchase a new one. As for pump parts, the duck valves should be replaced every 2-3 months, the valve membranes should be replaced every 6 weeks, and the breast shield should be replaced every 6 months if you are pumping often. If the tubing becomes moist or damaged, replace those as well.
The last thing you’ll need to know when you begin pumping is how to properly store your milk.
Breastmilk can expire and lose nutritional value, so it’s important to store your pumped milk properly to prevent spoilage.
- Freshly pumped milk can stay at room temperature for 4 hours.
- Freshly pumped milk can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 days.
- Freshly pumped milk can be stored in the freezer for 6-12 months.
- Milk that has been frozen and thawed can stay at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
- Milk that has been frozen and thawed can be refrigerated for 24 hours.
- Milk that is leftover from a feeding can be used within 2 hours.
- Never refreeze thawed milk, unless there are ice crystals present.
Pumping can be a breeze if you do it properly! Pumping milk is such a helpful tool for new moms and is vital if you plan on returning to work. While using a breast pump isn’t necessary for every mom, it can be a valuable tool and is covered by many insurance policies. If you’re not sure, call your insurance provider to see which breast pumps, if any, are covered under your current policy.
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.