The Ultimate Guide To Breast Pumping For Beginners.

The Ultimate Guide To Breast Pumping For Beginners.

Breast milk pumping is no moms first option. It is a thing for working mamas, that was my perception about it. I was far from reality until i got my own children and was put to the task of providing them nutrition. Pumping came to my rescue when things got ugly. Today i am going to solve all your doubts about breast pumping. Make you understand that you are not less of a mom if you are not nursing.

(Disclaimer: Through NO additional cost to you, I may be compensated from affiliate links included in this post. Learn more here.)

From choosing the best pump that will suit your need to setting up a pumping station. Know what is cluster/power pumping? And how to increase your breast milk supply with no infant suckling at your breast. So be sure to read it till the end.

What is breast pumping?

Breast milk pumping is the expression of breast milk manually, without the stimulus of an infant suckling at your breasts. Then giving it to your baby via a feeding bottle.

Reasons to start breast pumping.

A mom may start pumping by choice because she has to start working. Build up her freezer stash of liquid gold (breast milk). Or be forced to start because the newborn is too weak to suckle.One may use a pump to just reduce engorgement too or combine bottle and breast feeding.

My baby would get distracted too easily and would remain hungry so I had to find a way to feed him. Desperate to make the baby stop crying i tried everything and in the end settled with pumping. Now it wasn’t my choice but I didn’t have an option. 

I was glad I did. Because it suited my baby n me really well. He had very good weight gains in consecutive months. Precisely because of complete emptying of the breast. I exclusively breastfed my baby for a year out of which I pumped for 9 months.

Best thing about bottle feeding is you can see and measure how much your baby is consuming. That’s a drawback about nursing from the breast directly 

How to go about using a breast pump?

  1. The first step is to read a lot about it. Pumping is difficult, if you do not know how to do it. And then moms tend to lose hope and drop it. Who suffers? The baby, because he is deprived of the best nutrition that is meant for him. Most moms go for formula feeding, spending hundreds of dollars on it. 
  2. Find the right kind of pump. For that you need to know the type of pump that you need. A lot on that later. Once you decide the type of pump you want. Then learn how to use it. 
  3. Watch videos, read articles, see tutorials on using your type of pump. 
  4. Set up a pumping station.
  5. Find the easiest ways to clean your pump parts. Because you will have to do it 8 to 10 times a day. Scared already? Don’t be, because i got an FDA approved method of cleaning your pump parts, coming up, that wouldn’t require so much effort.
  6. Learn how to increase your breast milk supply because without an infants suckling acting as a stimulus, mother’s milk may dry up sooner than it should.

Pro tips: 

  1. The first thing I would say as a fellow pumping mom is, initially breast pumping can be very overwhelming. You will need a lot of patience. Precisely because the milk just doesn’t come.
  2. Go slow, don’t exert yourself, while your are learning to pump,bottle feed the baby with formula so he doesn’t go hungry. Pumping has a learning curve to it. Give it a week or two.
  3. Take help. Initially pumping can be very very frustrating, so when you start, make sure your infant is fed (nursed or formula fed) and asleep.

This way, the pressure will be off.  Now know that Initially for the first few tries all you are going to get is a few drops of milk. Not a reason to sulk. Doesn’t mean you have low milk supply. The human body is used to a baby’s suckling as a stimulus, and it takes some time for it to get used to this artificial stimulus to cause a letdown.

So when i say take help, i mean ask your mom, mom-in-law (if she’s that good) or best- your husband to help you with it. Having someone by your side will really help. Show them the tutorials, it will be really relaxing for a first time mom, when someone else is along with you, to keep you motivated.

Types of breast pumps:

1. Manual pump:
Manual pump is usually advised for women with breast engorgement, to help reduce pain. Initially when a woman delivers, for the first month the body produces milk in excess of the demand. And this is the same for all women. 

From the 2nd month on, the body gauges the requirement of the baby, and develops milk accordingly.   
That’s why many women feel their breast milk supply has reduced, they feel their breasts are not fuller now. That’s the body adjusting to the baby’s needs.

Coming to the use of a manual pump, if you are buying this pump for reasons other than engorgement like exclusively breast pumping then this is definitely a bad choice. Because doing manual pumping on 2 breasts, 8 to 10 times a day is very tedious. You will end you developing a painful wrist and shoulder joint within a month. 

2. Single electric pump:
Yes this can be your choice only if money is your constraint. These are a great choice compared to manual pumps. But again time consuming, because you don’t want to pump two breasts separately.

3. Double electric pump:
I highly advise investing in a good double electric breast pump. You can pump on the go with most devices. Look for a good motor, look for good after sales, because the flange or breast Shield which is made up of Silicone, tends to become loose. Also the valves become loose. Pumps parts are costly. Bit most companies do replace them for free if within the warranty period. 

Pumping schedule:

Two most common types of schedules. you can choose according to the need of your baby.

Breast pumping step by step:

  1. Begin by gently massaging the breasts, or using hot packs. I find hot packs tedious, and you will do just fine without them too. I have read on many blogs that some women use cold packs too. Do not use cold packs- all they do is inhibit milk flow by causing constriction of the milk ducts. In simpler words, narrowing of your ducts so less milk output.

  2. Keep the pump station ready. Think of it like your diaper trolley. You need it 8 to 10 times a day. Keeping it equipped with diapers, wet wipes, powder, extra clothes makes your task easy right. Similar is the case with breast pumping. Refer to “setting up a pumping station” above.

  3. Have your baby settled. This one’s tough. But the best way was pumping when my baby was napping. I would coincide my sessions when he was just about to get up so my breasts were full and output was also good. One pumping session can take anywhere between 20-40 mins. Second option is when baby gets up, you can get help, or if you live alone then put the baby in a cot with his favorite toy. Keep talking to him. Start the cot mobile. So many things you can do and if at all the kid doesn’t settle then you can interrupt your session and calm the baby first then continue again.

  4. Get you pump ready. Connect all the parts, the flange, the tubes and the bottle. Make sure the connections are tight otherwise suction will not be created and you will sit there sulking, that you have no milk. Keep the parts clean after each session so it will be easy for you to start the next time.

  5. Get your gear ready. Sounds like you are going for a war right? Wear your nursing bra, preferably hands free, keep your feeding bottle ready or if you want to stash it then keep milk storage bags ready with a marker (to label it with expiry date, for hubby or any caretaker who will be giving milk to the baby).

  6. Start pumping. First insert the breast shield within your nursing bra and position it right above the nipple. The connect other parts to the shield. And start the suctions. Check if the suction is right- you will feel a tug at your nipple. A feeling of your nipple being pulled inside the tube. If not then switch off the pump and readjust.

  7. Let down mode. First start expressing by using the let down mode. It is a quick suckling mode like that of a hungry infant. Let down is the initial milk flow felt by the mother. It can be felt as a tingly sensation at the nipples, or tightness in the breast, or milk drops flowing out of the breast. You can use this mode for about 5 to 10 mins and then proceed to the next mode when you get any of the signs of milk let down, best one being visible milk drops in the bottle.

  8. Expression mode. The second mode to be used is the expression mode. Once you have got the milk flowing, this mode will help you express it all out. It may take anywhere between 20-30 mins. Now these modes are the same in all electric breast pumps. What’s different is some may give you higher levels of suction, the degree to which you can feel a tug. It’s going to feel like longer, slower suckles. One thing to remember is increasing the level of suction to maximum isn’t going to express more milk. It shouldn’t be painful like a hard pinch. So find yourself a comfortable level of suction and set the machine on it. Pumping at this point will be a customized experience for you not just following a set of instructions. So find your own customized setting that gives you maximum milk output keeping your comfortable at the same time.

  9. Storage of breast milk. If you do not want to build a stash or your milk supply is just sufficient for feeding the baby for the day then collect milk in milk storage bottles and store it in the freezer section immediately. According to CDC p, freshly expressed breast milk can last up to 4 days in the fridge If you want to store it for use after 24 hrs then transfer it into milk storage bags. Next important thing to note is labeling the bag. Use a permanent marker. Mention the date of expression and the date of expiry or be clear by saying ‘Do not use after’ 

  10. Cleaning pump parts. Basic rule for cleaning breast pumps is to clean all parts that came in contact with milk. That includes the breast shield, valves, membranes. The tubes need not be cleaned unless they came in contact with milk. If you see water droplets condensed on the tube walls then start the suction without connecting it to the breast, the water will dry out. First step is to wash it all with warm soapy water using a non toxic bottle washing soap solution. Next sterilize all parts using preferably a steam sterilizer and keep for drying in a clean area on a rack. Alternatively you can also place them in boiling water for 10 mins then air drying them. Now doing this regime for 8 to 10 times a day, being exhausted, sleep deprived at the same time is really irritating. I had my sister to help me with the washing. But the biggest hack for it is you can place all pump parts in the fridge and reuse them, washing them once at the end of the day. 

  11. Keep the pump station ready for the next session. Always clean, dry and keep your pump and its parts ready in place for the next session. I cannot express the feeling of happiness when you see a ready station. And you just have to sit and start pumping.

What is power pumping/cluster pumping?

Power pumping is a method of pumping done to mimic the babies cluster feeding. It’s a cue to the breast to produce more milk. In short, increasing your breast milk supply without an infant suckling at your breast. 

It can be done any time of the day or night. It’s usually started when moms notice less milk output. Check out the dietary ways of increasing breast milk supply.

Power pumping schedule.

  • Pump for 20 minutes
  • Rest for 10 minutes
  • Pump for 10 minutes
  • Rest for 10 minutes
  • Pump for 10 minutes

Power Pumping Schedule for Single Electric or Manual Pump:

  • Pump left breast for 10 minutes
  • Pump right breast for 10 minutes
  • Pump left breast for 10 minutes
  • Pump right breast for 10 minutes
  • Pump left breast for 10 minutes
  • Pump right breast for 10 minutes

    On noticing a drop in milk supply, it is advised to power pump once a day for 3 days continuously. Look out for an increase in output. If you don’t feel a difference then pump twice a day for 3 more days. You will definitely see the results. 

    Why power pumping works.

    The science behind increase breast milk supply by this method is complete and frequent emptying of the breast. 

    This in turn signals the breast that the demand has increased, and in response the body increases the supply.

    For this to work you have to be well hydrated and eat well because the body needs energy and nutrients to produce milk.

    Setting up a pumping station.

    It’s very important to stay organized, especially for something that you need to do daily 8 to 10 times a day. Lesser chances of you getting frustrated with the task sooner.

    Below is a checklist, that’s also a printable so don’t forget any of the things.

    Use a haakaa.

    Are planning on combined breastfeeding and pumping well then an extra tip for you. Please start using a haakaa. It’s nothing but a silicone cup that extracts breast milk with a suction. And you don’t have to do anything.

    All you have to do is get a haakaa and fix its shield to your breasts firmly. Be sure to point its opening to your nipple. Look for fall outs, slippage of the shield. Its fixed right when it stays. 

    What a haakaa does?

    Its a device used for collecting milk from letdown of one breast when you are either feeding or pumping from the other. Usually when letdown happens all the milk from the opposite side just goes to waste. Either getting absorbed by the nursing pad or the bra. Approximately one to two ounce can be collected in each feeding session.

    You are all set now.

    So mama with all this knowledge I only hope to have helped and empowered you to in this journey called motherhood. Breast pumping is not hard if you know how to do it. But it can be overwhelming. Stay motivated. See your babies pics when you pump. Remember you are doing it for them. All the back pain from sitting for pumping , the sleepless nights, the exhaustion, only so those bundles of joy can stay healthy n happy.

    You are their world. You got this mama

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