If you choose to breastfeed your baby, then there are many good reasons why you should learn how to pump breast milk. Having several pumping tips and tricks up your sleeve will certainly make your breastfeeding journey a lot easier and more convenient.
For many moms who work outside the house, pumping is an indispensable part of their daily routine. If you are a working mom, you may need to have heavy-duty pumping equipment that will help you sustain breastfeeding.
But even if you are a stay (or work) at home mom, you will still benefit from learning how to pump correctly. There will be days when you need to be away from your child, requiring you to leave expressed breast milk with your husband or your babysitter. And on regular days, you can simply let someone else feed your baby with your breast milk while you take a break and rest.
There are many other reasons to pump like if you want to donate milk, if you want to relieve clogged ducts, or if you want to start letting your baby use a milk bottle. Whatever your reason is, you can definitely learn from this article!
Let’s start with the basics of pumping.
Which Breast Pump to Use
As briefly mentioned earlier, your choice of breast pump has a lot to do with your lifestyle and your needs. If you work outside the home full-time, because you will need to pump multiple times a day everyday (or every workday), then a heavy-duty and medical grade breast pump is your best bet.
However, if you mostly stay at home, then your regular hand-held pump will do. You may choose either an electric pump or a manual pump. Both do the job just fine, although electric pumps are usually faster and more efficient in expressing your milk.
When to Start Pumping Breast Milk
You can start pumping your breast milk as soon as six hours after you give birth, which is ideal in cases where you can’t directly feed your newborn baby. These situations include preterm births and complicated births where a baby needs to stay in the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) for a while.
However, if you were able to give birth to your baby without much problem and complications, and you are physically able to feed your baby directly, then it is best to establish a direct feeding routine first before introducing the bottle. You can wait for a few weeks before you start pumping.
How Much Milk Should You Pump
There will be several factors to be considered regarding the amount of milk you should be pumping. Aside from that, these factors change constantly depending on the type of day you and your baby are having. For example, you may notice that your stress level, your baby’s growth spurt, or even the time of day affect your milk output.
If you are exclusively pumping, in a day, you may produce an average of 25-35 oz. You may go higher or lower on some days, which you shouldn’t dwell on as it could be caused by some of the aforementioned factors.
How to Store Breast Milk
As much as possible, you would want to give your baby breast milk that is as fresh as possible. But even when your breast milk is stored, it still contains enough nutrients to properly nourish your little one. You can store your breast milk in the refrigerator, where it will stay good for up to 8 days. In the freezer, your breast milk can last up to 4 months! Don’t forget to put it inside the coldest part of your freezer.
Regular milk storage bottles or containers can be used to store breast milk. You can use your baby’s milk bottles, glass containers, and silicone freezer bags for breast milk storage. In a pinch, you can also use disposable milk storage bags. However, it is best to steer clear of thin plastic or materials that are not made for freezing.
Also, when freezing breast milk, because liquid expands, don’t forget to leave some room at the top of the container.
How to Sustain Pumping
Exclusive pumping can be challenging because your body doesn’t receive the signals coming from your baby to produce milk, which happens during direct feeding. However, it is still very possible to maintain full production for pumping.
Pump following a consistent schedule. Regular pumping drains your breasts, which tells your body that it needs to produce more milk. If you can mix pumping and direct feeding, then that works perfectly. But if you can only pump milk, then try to pump as often as you can. You may also want to try eating galactagogues, such as malt and oats, to help with your milk production.
Just like breastfeeding, pumping can be taxing, especially if you don’t know how to begin. But with time and practice — and a little bit of knowledge — you will gradually get the hang of it. Soon enough, pumping breast milk will be second nature to you!