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Pumping Milk For Your Baby

SILKWhat kind of pump?

  • We recommend you use an electric, hospital grade rental pump for an infant who is born premature the first few weeks to build your milk supply.
  • Store bought electric pumps are not adequate in building your milk supply. They can be used later to maintain your supply if your baby is breastfeeding, you are returning to work and will be separated from your baby. Additionally if you are considering using a borrowed breast pump from a family member, friend or neighbor, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) does not recommend using borrowed pumps.

"Only FDA cleared, hospital-grade pumps should be used by more than one person. With the exception of hospital-grade pumps, the FDA considers breast pumps single-use devices. That means that a breast pump should only be used by one woman because there is no way to guarantee the pump can be cleaned and disinfected between uses by different women. Single use electric breast pumps that are reused by different mothers can carry infectious diseases such as HIV or hepatitis."

Getting ready to pump

  • Wash your hands (You don't need to wash your breasts. A daily shower is plenty.)
  • Get comfortable and get a drink of water before you start (being hydrated helps with milk production!)
  • Put the pump kit together and plug in!
  • Massage your breast. Begin at your chest wall using the palm or your hand, Exert gentle pressure on your breast in a circular motion from your chest wall toward the nipple. Continue in this manner working all around the breast.
  • Try expressing a few drops of milk by hand. This is done by placing your thumb on your areola above the nipple and your first finger on your areola below your nipple. Press thumb and first finger inward towards your chest wall, than bring them together towards the nipple. Do not pinch your nipple. Repeat a few times until milk drops appear.

How to pump

  • Turn your electric breast pump.
  • Apply the flanges on both of your breast making sure your nipple is in the center.
  • Hold the flange on each of your breasts If your electric pump has both a cycle/speed and vacuum/suction control start out with the cycle/speed control up high and the vacuum/suction low after about a minute on two or when your milk begins to flow, turn down the cycle/speed control a bit and turn up the vacuum/suction control, so that it feels like a strong tug on the breast.
  • If your pump only has a vacuum/ suction control start out with it at the lowest point and gradually increase the suction until you feel a strong tug on the breast. This method is similar to how infants' breastfeed.
  • Begin pumping for about 8 minutes. Turn pump off. Remove the flanges by inserting your fingers to break the suction. Repeat breast massage. Massaging your breast helps you make more milk.
  • Continue pumping for 7 minutes.
  • While you are working on building your supply you should aim to pump at least 15-20 minutes in total or 2 minutes past the last milk drops from your breast.
  • Lubricating the flange with a little milk or olive oil may make it more comfortable.
  • Uterine cramping is normal when you are pumping.
  • "Hands-free" pumping can really make your life easier. You can buy a special pumping bra, or make one out of an old bra (cut slits at the nipple site for the flange.)
  • Having the right size flange will make pumping more comfortable.
  • If pumping hurts or your nipple doesn't move easily inside the flange, ask the lactation nurse to check your size.

How much/how often?

  • Pump 7 to 8 times in 24 hours; for example: every 3 hours while you are awake and once at night.
  • The number of times you pump is more important than how long you pump - you want to be stimulating your breasts to produce more milk.
  • Initially you should pump for 15-20 minutes each time.
  • After the first few weeks, once your milk supply is established, you need to keep pumping for 2-3 minutes after your milk flow slows down.
  • The middle of the night pumping is important, especially in the first few weeks - this will really help get your milk production up.
  • Feel your breasts while you pump - if there are hard areas, massage them to empty all parts of the breast, you will see the milk spray out as you empty those areas.
  • Emptying your breasts also helps you produce higher calorie milk for your baby.
  • REMEMBER: Emptying the breast frequently = more milk for your baby. Leaving the breast full and pumping infrequently = less milk for your baby.

Keeping track of your milk

  • Write in your log book when and how much you pumped.
  • You may want to set a schedule to remember to pump on a regular basis.
  • Mothers who keep track of their pumping make more milk.
  • If you have concerns about your supply being low contact one of the lactation consultants.

Cleaning your equipment

  • Please carefully read the manufacturer's instructions for caring for and cleaning your breast pump kit. Disassemble and separate all parts of your breast pump kit.
  • You should wash your breast pump kit in warm/hot dish soap water. Use a bottle brush on the flanges and bottles Rinse twice in warm/ hot clean water and allow to air dry. Place on a clean dish towel and cover with a clean dish towel. You may use a dishwasher. Place parts in top rack and small parts in a closed nipple basket. Clean all milk storage bottles the same way.
  • Do not wash the tubing or white adapter cap or tubing adapter of your Hollister/ Ameda breast pump kit. The inside of the tubing of your breast pump kit is not meant to get wet. If using a Medela breast pump kit inspect the tubing after each use to see if condensation has formed or milk has accumulated in the tube. Please follow the manufacturers' instructions for cleaning if this has occurred.
  • You can purchase microwave steam bags to clean your kit if you prefer.

Going home to pump

  • It is hard to leave the hospital without your baby!
  • Pumping for your baby is one of the best ways you can help your baby while in the NICU.
  • Try to keep up your pumping schedule.
  • The first 2 weeks are very important for making enough milk for the whole time your baby is here, and for making breastfeeding successful after your baby comes home.
  • Your first goal is the clear or yellow colostrum drops for your baby.
  • Two weeks after your delivery your goal is to produce 500 mls (about 2 cups) or more each day.
  • Remember that you are the only one who can make this most important medicine (mother's milk) for your baby.
  • Keep taking your prenatal vitamins - for you and your baby!

    The Chester County Hospital Lactaction Consultants: 610.738.2582

Last Updated: 6/23/2011