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Preparing to Pump: A Guide to Breast Pumping for New Mothers

September 25, 2018
The arrival of a first child is an exciting time for a woman, but it can also be a bit scary. For new mothers, learning how to use a breast pump can be difficult. This infographic is here to help you understand what your options are when it comes to nursing and breast pumping, how to select the correct pump, what to expect throughout the process, and some tips to help you pump like a pro.


Choosing the Right Breast Pump:

From manual to electric breast pumps (single and double-sided), there are several options to choose from when selecting the proper breast pump. Regardless of which pump you decide to choose, it is imperative that you select the right size of breast shield, which is the funnel-shaped part that fits over the breast. Failure to do so can lead to extreme discomfort.

Note: Some or all the cost of your breast pump may be covered by your health provider.

Which Breast Pump is Right for You?

The answer all depends your needs. For moms that plan on pumping once a day or less, a manual pump will suffice. However, those that are planning on pumping being their primary source of milking will want to consider an electrical pump – preferably two-sided as research has shown that women who double pump have an additional let down (release of milk) in each pumping session thanks to a rise in the level of prolactin (the milk-producing hormone).1

How to Begin?

It is important to set realistic goals as to not get discouraged during the pumping process; remember, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. For the first day, most moms are only able to produce around one ounce of milk.

After the first month, your body will learn to produce more milk as you pump more frequently.

By pumping exclusively, you can expect to start producing about 30 ounces per day, which is roughly the amount a baby normally consumes in a 24-hour period.2

Beginner Tips:

  • You can safely store breast milk at room temperature for 4-6 hours, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, and in the freezer for 6-12 months
  • Sanitize pump parts at least once per day
  • Relaxation is essential to release oxytocin, which stimulates your let-down reflex, so have everything you need close by while pumping
  • Pumping shouldn’t hurt. If you feel discomfort, or see any irritation, try reducing the suction level. If discomfort continues, cease pumping and consult a specialist.
The First Four Weeks:

Aim for 8 to 10 pumping sessions every 24 hours following birth, expressing (expelling milk) for at least 15 minutes each session. As stated earlier, you may not see major results at first, however, the body will acclimate to the suction of the pump.

After 4 to 6 Weeks:

Start to tailor your pumping sessions based on the number of let downs. A mom who only has let downs early in a session only needs to pump for around 8 to 10 minutes, while another that has many or late let downs will have to pump for 15+ minutes.

Pro tip: Take advantage of the first let down of every session since it typically provides around 36% of the milk volume.

What Else Can You Do to Increase Your Milk Supply?
  • More stress, less milk
    • Stay hydrated
    • Eat well
    • Take naps when needed
    • Massage breasts before/during pumping
  • Skin-to-skin contact with your baby before and during pumping can help you express more milk
    • If you’re away from your baby, try looking at a photo of him/her while expressing
  • During the expression phase, select the vacuum setting that meets your maximum comfort level
  • The following foods can help increase milk supply
    • Oatmeal
    • Spinach
    • Carrots
    • Fennel
    • Fenugreek seeds
    • Garlic
    • Basil
    • Barley
    • Asparagus
    • Brown rice
    • Apricots
    • Almonds
    • Sweet potatoes

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