There are so many positive things to be said about breastmilk, it’s no surprise that some mums will do anything to ensure their baby has a good supply.
However, deciding to feed your baby a diet of breastmilk only during the early days of their lives doesn’t mean you have to be there for every feed. That’s what breast pumping is for.
If you’re a new mom, you may be wondering how to pump breastmilk. Breast pumping can be a little confusing at first, but it’s really not difficult once you get the hang of it. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about pumping, from how to set up your pump to how to store your milk. Let’s get started!
Why Get a Pump When You Plan on Breastfeeding?
If you are planning to exclusively breastfeed, you may not have thought that much about breast pumping. However, there are so many reasons that a mum might choose to pump, and it’s worth thinking carefully about whether you should invest in a pump too.
Many mums choose to pump if they’re planning to go back to work but don’t want to rely on formula feeding. While this is the most common reason, mums also choose to pump so they don’t have to be on hand for every single feeding, allowing their partner (or another helper) to feed the baby and give mum time to rest.
- Pumping helps keep your breasts healthy and prevents them from becoming engorged
- Pumping increases milk supply
- You can still store breast milk if you need to return to work or pump in public
Beyond this, breast pumping can also be used to stimulate milk production and increase milk supply, collect milk to feed a baby who is premature or hasn’t been able to latch, relieve pain and discomfort from engorged breasts and keep your milk supply up if you’ve been advised to stop nursing due to medications you’re taking.
Types Of Breast Pumps
If you’re planning to pump, or at least exploring your options, you should know that there are a number of different kinds of pumps available for mums. Now, we have an entire article dedicated to this, but we’ll sum up the different pumps below:
Hospital-Grade Electric Pump:
The most expensive option, these are fast, effective pumps that can drain both breasts easily and obtain the most milk. How do you feel about breast milk? Some people see it as the best possible nutrition for their baby, while others see it as an expense they could do without.
Breast milk is a personal choice, but one thing is for sure – if you choose to breastfeed, you need a quality electric pump. Today we’re going to tell you about hospital-grade electric pumps and why they’re worth the investment. Keep reading to learn more!
Brands of Hospital Grade Breast Pumps include:
- Medela Symphony Hospital Grade Breast Pump
- Lansinoh Breast Pump 2-in-1 Double Electric Breast Pump
- ACwiwil Electric Breast Pump with Double Breast Pump
- Medela Breast Pump Double Kit
The great thing about these fancy breast pumps is that you can hire them! Here is a list of Hire Providers:
Top End Personal Electric Pumps:
A step down from the hospital-grade pumps, these are perfect for mums who pump regularly and need to pump fast. Are you looking for a high-quality, personal electric pump that will help you get the most out of your workouts? If so, you’ll want to take a look at some of the top-end models on the market today.
Personal electric pumps can provide you with a great workout, and they’re perfect for people who are looking for an alternative to traditional exercise machines. So if you’re ready to start getting in shape, be sure to check out some of the top personal electric pumps available today. You won’t be disappointed!
Look at the following breast pumps such as:
- Medela Swing Flex Single Electric Pump (pump one boob at a time)
- Medela Swing Maxi Flex Double Electric Pump (pump booth boobs at once)
- Medela Double Electric Freestyle Breastpump
Mid Range Electric Or Battery Pumps:
A more affordable option, best for mums who pump just once a day (generally to have extra milk on hand) as they take longer to use. Are you in the market for a new pump? Whether it’s for your home or business, there are many different types to choose from. So, how do you decide which type is right for you? In this blog post, we’ll discuss two popular pump types – mid-range electric pumps and battery-powered pumps.
Ideal for mum’s looking for a quiet, budget option, some mums love using these hand-operated pumps, but they can be tiring and time-consuming.
Manual pumps include:
How To Use a Breast Pump
Using a breast pump, though it may seem strange and unfamiliar, is easier than you think. Here’s a rundown of using both electric and manual pumps.
- Take a few minutes to massage or even jiggle your breasts. If massaging, gently run your fingers down the breast on all sides, going towards the nipple.
- Fit the breast phalange, or phalanges if you’re using a double pump, over your nipple and create a seal.
- Turn the pump on its lowest setting and suction, adjusting the dials to fit your own specifications.
- Understand that you might not get the same amount of milk from each breast, or the same amount each day.
- Spend a minute or two managing the breast to being stimulating the breast for milk production.
- Place the breast phalange over your nipple, creating a seal.
- Simulate the way that the baby might begin to suckle by doing a few short, gentle pulls on the pump.
- Once the milk starts to flow, transition into longer, slower movements, similar to how a baby would do with feeding.
In using both electric and manual pumps, many mums find that it helps not to look at the milk as it collects in the bottle. You may find that it is disappointing when you feel you are expressing a lot of milk, but there is actually a little. Instead, keep your mind focused on your baby, and the nourishment you will be providing.
When it comes time to stop pumping, you can’t just stop right away. As you pump you encourage your body to create milk to ‘feed your baby’ which means if you suddenly stop pumping that milk won’t be released and you might become engorged and increase your risk of mastitis. Instead what you need to do is wean yourself off the pump by continuing to pump until all the milk is gone, then stopping. Be careful not to pump too long after the milk flow has stopped, or you’ll start to produce more milk.
Things To Remember
Pain & Discomfort
Using a breast pump should not be painful, although the feeling of pressure from the pump might take some getting used to. However, if you’re feeling pain from using a breast pump, something is definitely wrong. For electric pumps make sure you’re starting on the lowest setting, and take some time to move the phalange around to see if that helps. If there’s no change, we’d recommend going to see a lactation consultant to talk to them about your issues.
When you’ve settled on a pump that works for you, you’ll need to adapt it to suit your body best. One of the most important aspects of this is the breast phalange. Would be of a size that, when the nipple is inside and the milk is being expressed, the nipple does not touch the sides. If your nipple is touching the sides of the phalange while you express, look at getting a bigger phalange.
Breast pumping is not the same as breastfeeding a baby, so some mothers find that they aren’t able to achieve a proper let-down just from the pump alone. There are a few ways to deal with this. The first is to have your baby near you when you pump, or even to breastfeed on one side and pump on the other. If you don’t have your baby with you (i.e. you are at work or pumping outside the home) you can look at a photograph of them, watch a video or them, or listen to a recording of them making noises, particularly crying. This generally causes the milk to be let down.
One thing that mums might want to look into if they’re going to be pumping on a regular basis is a hands-free pumping bra. A hands-free pumping bra looks just like a bra, but with the phalange and breast pump built into the garment. This means mums can pump while they get on with other things, instead of having to sit and exclusively pump. Hands-free pumping bras are a great idea for mums who pump several times a day.
Storing Breast Milk
What To Put It In
Pumped breastmilk should be stored in a container made of plastic or glass, that has been sterilised prior to being filled. It’s smarter to store your breastmilk in portion sizes, making it easier to feed your baby the amount of milk that they need. Breastmilk can also be stored in specially made plastic bags, which are perfect for effective storing of a lot of milk, or for storing milk that you intend to freeze. Whatever you’re storing the milk in, your storage system should be easy for you, and those assisting you with your baby’s care, to understand. Make sure you always label the milk with the date it was pumped.
Freezing And Thawing
Breastmilk can be frozen, but freezing the milk will destroy some of the antibodies. This doesn’t mean it’s not still good for your baby, but most people don’t freeze milk unless they really have to. Of course, the milk is still therapeutic, so it does serve a purpose and it is still a better alternative than formula.
When freezing milk, make sure that you leave some space at the top of whatever container you’re using, to allow for the milk to expand as it freezes. Also, ensure that you aren’t freezing the milk in large portions. Small portions freeze faster and are much easier to thaw. Store the milk in the coldest part of your freezer, furthest from the door.
Now, when it comes time to thaw the milk you have a few options. The first is to simply take it out of the freezer and pop it in the fridge, where it will take around 12-24 hours to thaw and can be used straight away. If you need it sooner, you can run warm water over the bag or bottle that the milk is being stored in until it has reached room temperature. Do not heat the milk in the microwave, ever, and make sure that you never refreeze milk that has already been thawed.
Breastmilk can be pumped and stored for later use, but how long it will last does depend on how it’s stored. The following guidelines are for freshly expressed milk.
Room Temperature: Breastmilk will last at room temperature (26 degrees or lower) for about 6-8 hours.
Fridge: Breastmilk will last in the fridge (4 degrees or colder) for as long as 72 hours, with the best place to put it being at the back of the fridge.
Freezer Compartment: When stored in a freezer compartment inside a fridge, breastmilk will last about 2 weeks.
Normal Freezer: In a normal freezer section, with a separate door, breastmilk will keep for about three months. Make sure you keep it towards the back away from the door.
Deep Freeze: In a deep freeze or chest freezer with a temperature of -18 degrees or lower, breastmilk should keep for 6-12 months.