Get Pumped Up: The Basics of Breast Pumping for Beginners
Congratulations, you’re a mother now!
Most mothers start pumping breast milk after they’re given the all-clear following a successful delivery. Pumping aids breastfeeding and promotes milk supply, and it’s especially important if you cannot nurse your baby from birth for various reasons.
It takes some time to get into the hang of using your breast pump, but it’s vital to be patient and take it easy. As the days go by, your body will adjust and get used to it.
How to Start Pumping
Now that you’re armed with that odd-looking gizmo called a breast pump, how do you get started?
Before you begin, it’s very important to wash your hands with soap and water first.
- Get Comfortable: Your mood matters, because being at ease is important to release the hormone oxytocin. Make sure you’re in a comfortable spot and in a relaxed state. If you’re feeling jittery, calm your nerves by occupying yourself with happy thoughts, or doing something you enjoy, like practising yoga beforehand or listening to music.
- Boost Letdown: In pumping jargon, letdown refers to the action where your breasts release milk for your pump. Leaks aside, your breast milk typically contains itself unless stimulated by your baby or pump.
When this happens, your body releases the milk letdown hormone oxytocin that releases milk from your ducts. You can boost letdown by massaging your breasts gently or using a warm compress. You can also cuddle or hold your baby beforehand to encourage this.
Start at a Low Suction: It can be tempting to go big from the very beginning, but it’s important to be comfortable as well. We recommend starting at a low suction and gradually increasing it as your milk flow increases. Remember, pumping shouldn’t be painful!
How to Use Your Pump Properly
If pumping is a whole new world to you, it can be confusing at the start. After all, it can look like a foreign mess of tubes and parts. When it comes to using a breast pump, there are some general instructions you can take note of.
- Step 1: Start clean. Always remember to wash your hands, breast pump parts and bottle equipment before pumping.
- Step 2: Put the flanges over your breast tissue. Make sure that the opening of each flange is centred around your nipple.
- Step 3: Position the parts against your breast while ensuring that your thumb is on the top part of the flange and the rest of your fingers staying flat against the bottom area. Avoid pressing so hard that it leaves marks.
- Step 4: Adjust the settings according to your pump instructions. It is advised to start with a low suction and fast speed until you reach a steady flow. You can then reduce the speed and increase the suction.
- Step 5: For a full pumping session, you should pump for about 20 minutes.
- Step 6: After pumping, stop the suction and remove the flanges. Be extra careful when removing the bottles from the flanges - you don’t want your hard work to go to waste!
Step 7: Remember to clean the pump parts after every use.
Breast Pumping Tips to Remember
There’s no guaranteed method to make sure you’ll definitely express a huge stash of milk every time, but we do have some tips to help! Every mother is different, and what works for you may not work for another, but you can always try. After all, every bit helps!
- Find Something Suitable: Modern pumps come with a variety of features, but that aside, what really works for you and your baby best? Determine your priorities - for example, if you’re a working mum, you’ll want to get a portable unit that’s lightweight to bring around.
- Get a Good Quality Pump: The pump quality plays a key part. Cimilre offers hospital-grade breast pumps ideal for pumping mums.
- Timing it Right: Women produce varying amounts of milk at different times of the day. Pumping in the morning releases the highest volume of milk and pumping in the late afternoon or early evening yields the lowest.
Use a Double Pump: A double breast pump boosts the level of milk-producing hormone, prolactin, in your body. Women who use a double breast pump may also express more milk, and save time as well.
Breast pumping can be a pleasant experience when you get into the groove. Always remember that it should be painless, and know to seek help if it gets too difficult.
Even if many mothers pump, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy - it means sacrificing your sleep at night, your time at work, and throughout the day to express milk for your little one. Make it a positive memory to look back upon by taking care of yourself!