April 02, 2020 5 min read
If breastfeeding is going well and you are not planning to go back to work, you may find that you never need to pump. But if your baby is in the NICU from birth, you may need to express milk every couple of hours, and the most efficient pump is your best bet. Options for expressing milk include:
So, which pump do you need? Start by thinking about why you might need to pump, and then choose the best pump you can afford to meet your needs. Reasons you might need to express breastmilk include:
Pumping is fairly self-explanatory. Always start with clean hands and clean pump parts. Set the pump up according to the manufacturers instructions, centre your nipple in the flange, and turn the pump on. You may need to adjust the settings to make it more comfortable for you – it doesn’t need to be cranked to the maximum suction to do the work. Then try to relax and let the milk flow.
Don’t be alarmed if you don’t get much milk the first time that you pump. There’s a definite learning curve to pumping. The key is to maximise your letdowns. Make sure you have privacy for pumping, and that you’re warm enough. Use a warm compress on your breast or a sweater over your shoulders. Practice relaxing – even taking a few deep breaths at the beginning of each pumping session. Visualise your baby, look at pictures of your little one, or listen to a recording of your baby cooing (or crying!). Massage your breasts before turning the pump on. When you don’t see milk spaying out anymore, turn the pump off and massage your breasts again. Women say this hands-on-pumping technique helps to increase how much milk they can get at each pumping session.
If pumping hurts, play around with the pump’s settings to find one that is comfortable for you. Make sure that the flange fits your breast well. If too much of your areola is being pulled into the pump, or if your nipple is rubbing the sides of the flange, you can experience pain. You can order bigger or smaller flanges from most pump manufacturers.
Clean any pump parts that come in contact with your milk after each pumping session using soap and hot water. Allow the parts to air dry. Follow the manufacturers instructions regarding sterilisation or using a dishwasher to clean the pumping kit. The tubing doesn’t typically need to be washed. Occasionally the tubing will have a bit of condensation inside. Turning your pump on for a few minutes should dry this out.
Sometimes when pumping has been going well for several months, your pumping output all of a sudden seems to decrease. Check all of your pump parts – especially tubing and membranes – to make sure they’re in working order. Consider temporarily trying a different type or brand of pump. Check with your manufacturer for instructions to test the pump’s suction and for troubleshooting what to do if it has become faulty. Make sure you are pumping often enough – sometimes just adding minutes to your pumping sessions or pumping sessions to your day is enough to boost your output.