How to Successfully Use Your Breast Pump
Making the decision to breastfeed is a very personal one. For many nursing women, they will eventually need to express breast milk to feed their baby for one reason or another. It is really important to understand how to use your breast pump. To get the juices flowing, whether you’re pumping or not, drink at least 8 ounces of water a day. The most optimal time to pump is usually in the morning when your breasts are at their fullest point. If you’re pumping at work, it is best to pump during the times you’d be feeding them baby. Remaining on the same feeding schedule is also very important to help maintain your milk supply. To pump at home for the purpose of saving milk it is best to pump an hour or so after feedings.
When pumping at work, it’s best to find a nice quiet place where you can relax. Doing this will help let down come easier. It’s next to impossible to have a good let down when you’re feeling uptight and uncomfortable. One thing that has helped me with milk let down is by closing my eyes and picturing my little one nursing or imagining his smell or smiling face. My breast pump has a little compartment that holds a picture of him to look out while pumping. If you’re pumping at home you can try to cuddle with your little one (as long as they don’t mind being close to milk they can’t have). I find it easier to go to another room.
If you’re pumping with an electric pump, start on the lowest suction setting. These pumps are very powerful and can be quite shocking and painful if you’re not prepared! Increase the suction as needed throughout the session. It can take a few times of pumping before you get the hang of it and feel comfortable with it.
When storing breast milk, storage bags or bottles can be used. Electric pumps generally have bottle or bag attachments. If pumping manually, you can pump into a bottle or directly into a cup to transfer the milk to a bottle or storage bag. When freezing milk, remember to only fill the bag three-quarters full to allow for expansion. Refrigerate expressed milk as soon as possible. Breast milk can be at room temperature for up to 6 hours, as long as it is not in direct sunlight or direct heat. Expressed milk can be stored in the refrigerator for 48 hours, three months in the freezer and six months in a deep freeze.