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Using a Breast Pump

Updated: Feb 23

a woman wearing gray shirt breast pumping her milk on breastfeed cups while holding a phone

Some people who breastfeed will never use a breast pump. It can be a very useful device, however. The reasons why you may need a breast pump are:

· Stimulate a supply if separated from baby after birth, such as a preemie or baby in NICU
· Stimulate an increased supply if you have a low milk supply
· Maintain a supply if separated from baby; returning to work or school
· Choose to pump and feed baby with a bottle instead of at the breast

The type of breast pumps are varied and your choice will depend on how much you will be pumping:

· Hospital-grade double electric pump – The best way to initiate a supply if you are separated from your baby after birth. They can be very expensive to purchase but are available to rent. Typically, 15 minutes of pumping is sufficient. Would be well suited to pumping long-term with a baby who is unable to nurse (preemie) or if exclusively pumping and bottling. Two large company names are Medela and Ameda

· Double electric/battery pump – vary in strength; some are as strong as a hospital-grade pump, not labeled with strength. The typical pump time for both breasts at the same time is 15-20 minutes. Can also be used to maintain a supply when away from the baby when returning to work or school. Common brands are Medela, Ameda, Spectra, Lansinoh, Motif Luna, etc.

· Double electric/battery small pump – usually not as strong as a regular double electric breast pump. Typical pump time would be 20 minutes and would not be ideal for exclusive pumping as supply may decrease. Also has a shorter life-span than larger pumps

· Double electric/battery hands-free breast pump – Especially convenient if you will need to pump hands-free, such as working in a job without the ability to take a break to pump. They can be programmed to start when you are ready and no one is aware you are pumping. They are not as effective if long-term pumping or exclusive pumping and bottling. Common brands are Willow and Elvie

· Single pump – can be a convenient pump to put in the diaper bag if needed away from home – takes 20-30 minutes to pump both sides. Good for the infrequent need for a pump, running errands, having coffee with friends, etc. Would not be ideal to maintain a supply if frequent pumping needed. Medela’s Harmony and the Elvie Curve are examples of this

· Haaka type pumps – Soft silicone one-piece pump can pump on the opposite breast while breastfeeding. It is applied and stays on, or you can use it as a single pump. Does not always empty the breast well and would not be effective to maintain a supply for frequent pumping

Pump Flange Fitting

Having the correct flange size can prevent pain, skin trauma, plugged ducts, and reduced milk supply or flow. Your flangesize may change over the course of pumping. You may also need a different size flange per breast.
· Start with a flange size (look at the tunnel) that is slightly wider than the base of your nipple.
· Make sure your nipple is in the center of the tunnel of the flange. Use a suction that feels like a strongtug, but is not painful, or use the highest comfortable setting.
· Nipples usually enlarge when you pump, so check for the correct size after you have been pumping for a few minutes.

Your nipple is moving freely in the tunnel and is not rubbing against the sides. You don't see any redness or have discomfort. Your nipple and/or areola is not turning white.

Your nipple and excessive areola are being pulled into the tunnel. You mayhave discomfort and/or skin trauma.

Your nipple is rubbing along the sides of the tunnel. Your nipplemay be blanching or turning white and may have discomfort and/or skin trauma

Hands-on (Active) Feeding and Pumping

Pumping can be very helpful to boost and maintain milk supply when babies can’t remove milk effectively. To help make this more efficient, give this a try:
1. Watch Maya Bolman’s breast massage video:
2. Massage one breast for about 15-30 seconds. Your breasts are glands, not muscles. The massage technique is different! Squeeze and knead like clay or Play-Do. Use your palm and fingers on the breasts. Massage top and bottom left and right, repeat. Massage and finger-tapping help fat get into earlier milk. Hand express until you get some drops.
3. If pumping and feeding your amazing milk:
a. Repeat massage/hand expression on other breast, 15-30 Seconds.
b. Center nipples in flanges and pump at the highest comfortable setting.
c. When the streams of milk stop or slow (4-6 min.), set flanges aside. Massage again
for 15-30 seconds.
d. Reapply flanges and pump for another 5-8 minutes.
e. When the milk slows again, hand-express each breast into flanges/ bottles for 3-5
f. Done! The total pumping time is 15-20 min. You will be amazed to see MORE
letdowns during the 2nd half of pumping! The more milk you remove, the more
milk you’ll MAKE!

Cleaning Breast Pumps

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