Using Your Breast Pump

These guidelines and tips can help prepare you for successful pumping;
however, you should be sure to read all of the instructions that come
with your pump prior to using it for the first time.

pumping 101 – Tips for Breast Pumping

To begin your first pumping session, place the breast shield on your breast and hold firmly in place. Be sure that the shield is centered over your nipple. If the shield is not centered over your nipple, you may experience discomfort when you begin to pump.

Once you achieve let-down and your milk is flowing, you can switch to squeezes that are held longer to express milk effectively. When your flow slows down, switch to your other breast.

If using an electric pump start pumping at the lowest speed and suction settings until you feel comfortable. Then adjust speed and suction to stimulate let-down and milk flow as needed. If you’re using a double electric pump for the first time, start with one breast until you adjust to pumping.

Always disassemble your pump after each use, wash with hot soapy water, rinse and air dry. To learn more about how to keep your pump clean read Cleaning Your Breast Pump.

Creating a Comfortable Pumping Environment

Creating a comfortable pumping environment can help to ensure that you pump more milk during each session by helping you to relax. Stress and other distractions can hinder your let-down reflex and make pumping more difficult. Some ways to make your environment more relaxing include:

  • Keep a photo of your baby near by
  • Hold a blanket or item of clothing that has your baby’s scent
  • Listen to relaxing music
  • Eat your lunch or a healthy snack while pumping
  • Avoid interruptions by informing others of your pumping schedule

Additional Tips for Breast Pumping Successfully

  1. Get an early start. If you plan to return to work, you should begin pumping at least 2 weeks before your first day back. During this time, you will be able to learn how to pump effectively and begin to build a supply of expressed milk. This early pumping will also allow you to determine how much time you will need to pump each day.
  2. Outline a pumping schedule and stick to it. It can be helpful to pump on the same schedule that your baby was breastfeeding. Most mothers find that pumping more frequently for short periods is more effective than pumping for longer periods. On average, a pumping session should last between 15 and 20 minutes.
  3. Lean forward while pumping. This is a great way for you to use gravity to your advantage while pumping. It will help your milk to flow more easily through the shields and into the bottles.
  4. Reduce chafing by lubricating the breast shields with lanolin cream or vegetable oil. This will also help to draw in more of your breast into the shield.
  5. Warm compresses and gentle massage prior to pumping can help to increase the amount of milk you are able to express.

Once you’re familiar with your pump and are ready to start expressing your breastmilk, be sure to have a your milk storage containers and labels prepared. Read the articles on Milk Storage to find out how to properly store your expressed breastmilk.

Return to: Breast Pumping Basics

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