If you are planning to become a mother for the first time, it is of prime importance that you learn the basics of pumping breast milk. Experienced mothers are deemed to be well informed because of their past history with child bearing and can therefore be an important resource in educating new mothers on how to pump milk properly. Remember to consult with your doctor if you have any concerns regarding your health during post-pregnancy.
While experienced mothers can offer you much needed advice, you may notice they can be quite skeptical of pumping breast milk because of the fear of contamination or other related challenges. This article will be able to help you clarify the mechanics and benefits of pumping breast milk when applied with caution. Understanding how to pump milk properly will soon become a relatively simple task. Don’t be afraid to try pumping. You will be pleasantly surprised that it is a quick and convenient way to breastfeed your little one with many other benefits you cannot get from simply feeding your baby directly from your breasts.
Why Opt for Pumping Breast Milk?
Life is all about experience. The reasons for choosing to pump breast milk vary among different women. Here are the most common reasons mothers choose to pump breast milk:
- Job Demands: In order to maintain yourself, your home and your lovely newborn baby, you will need to have a source of income to meet all of your needs. In some cases you may have to go back to work immediately after giving birth. This type of situation allows for very little or no time to personally breastfeed your baby. Therefore, pumping will be able to provide the best alternative for you. Pumping breastmilk due to job demands is one of the most common reasons mothers choose this option.
- Time to rest: During the first few months after delivery, a mom mostly stays up late checking up on the baby making her feel sleep deprived. For this reason a mom will crave a goodnight’s rest; and this is where a breast pump comes in handy.
- When leaving your partner with baby: Your baby’s dad will definitely want to bond with the little one. During such times when he is the one babysitting, you will need to pump milk for the baby.
- Premature baby: The baby in this case is kept in an incubator for a certain period. This means that pumping milk is the best alternative as the baby is not mature enough for them to suckle from their mom’s breasts.
- Ill health: Some babies have difficulty latching after birth; either as permanent or temporal health condition, so you’ll need to pump the breast milk. Also, when a mother is sick and under some medications, pumping may be the easiest option.
- Increase milk production: Expressing your breast milk makes you lactate more. Therefore, if you’re having poor milk production, you may be advised to try pumping instead.
- Flat nipples: Some women’s nipples are naturally flat and babies can’t suck directly. In such situations, pumping will be the best alternative.
- Pain during breastfeeding: Sore nipples or pain while breastfeeding is another common reason why some mothers choose to pump. You would have to ensure though that you purchase a higher quality pump that will be easier on your breasts.
Expressing Milk With The Use of a Breast Pump
The market today offers you a wide variety of products to choose from; there are both manual and electric breast milk pumps. Both of these pumps get the job done.
The manual pumps are not as popular as the electric pumps. There are many mothers who prefer the use of manual pumps over electric ones. The manual pump is best if you are on a budget as it is less expensive when compared with the electric one. Also, you may consider purchasing the manual breastmilk pump if you do not need to pump milk regularly. The main advantage the manual pump has over the electric one is that you can use it even in absence of electricity; for instance while you are traveling.
Using electrical pumping machines or other devices provide faster and less stressful results. The price for these electric pumps however tend to be more expensive. If you are afraid of using an electric pump, with time, you will be able to adjust. Furthermore, your choice of a milk expression method will depend on the quantity you want require at a time and the period of absence that you will have from the baby.
Whichever method you choose whether it is manual or electric, you should understand that they both have their advantages and disadvantages.
How to Use Manual Breast Milk Pumps
- Read the product manual: When a product is brand new, you may not have an idea of how it works. This is the reason why moms need to read the instructions manual of the manual breast milk pump to understand how the particular model functions.
- Maintain cleanliness: Remember, the health of your baby comes first. So, before you start the entire process ensure your hands are thoroughly washed with soap and running/clean water. You also need to clean the various parts of the breast pump and the areola region of your breast. This ensures that the baby’s milk is not contaminated in any way. When this is done, you can now dry with a clean towel.
- Find a comfortable private place: For your milk to be released you will need to be in a place and position in which you feel relaxed. If the milk is not released instantly, do not worry this happens quite more often than you think; all you need to do is have your baby in mind and your body will trigger hormones that will aid in the release of your milk.
- Assemble the breast shield and place it on your breast; make certain that it is centered over the areola region of your breast.
- Start pumping: The milk may take some minutes before it gets released or rather starts flowing. However, be patient. Massaging the breast to get it warmor by directly applying warm water or a towel over it before expressing the milk yields faster results. Don’t forget the place of gravity in the process of milk expression, so you should try sitting up and leaning forward. Place your index finger and thumb (about an inch) on the side of the breast behind the breast or areola region, giving a C shape with your hand. While compressing the areola region, instead of the nipple, gently press fingers backwards in the direction of the wall of your chest. You must not apply force, but rather a gentle motion of rolling. As a beginner, you may squirt milk at first, but as you continue, you will discover the right spot where the milk will flow from. Gently rotate your fingers around the areola region, making it a top-to-bottom-to-side movement. Don’t be discouraged with the low quantity you may express initially. The quantity will improve and be augmented with regular practice. And lastly, don’t forget to make sure the bottles are clean and wide mouthed.
- Switch breasts after every five minutes: Here, you will notice that one breast releases more milk than the other. This should not worry you though. It is totally normal. Also worth noting is that each breast should get approximately 15 minutes of stimulation in order for it to produce as much milk as possible.
How to Use Electrical Breast Pumps
Electric pumps are much more expensive than the manual ones. The pumps in the market are really high quality and very effective. For example, Spectra USA S2 and the Medela Pump in Style. They offer backflow protection; this ensures that there is a 100 percent protection of the breasts and the milk from bacteria, mold or viruses while pumping breast milk. They also allow you to digitally control the speed and rhythm of the pump. Electric pumps are also quite silent.
Initially it will feel kind of strange pumping milk from your breasts using a machine but with time, you will get used to it. The steps you need to follow when using an electric breast pump include:
- Carefully read the instructions written in the product manual. This enables you to know how to use the product even if you are an amateur in pumping breast milk.
- Thoroughly clean your hands, the areola region of your breasts and the breast pump parts. This ensures that the baby’s milk is free of disease-causing germs. Practice regular hygiene of washing the nipple and the entire areola region, wash your hands, and ensure the collection kit is clean and well sterilized to avoid any form of contamination.
- Find a position where you feel comfortable and relaxed: If you are skeptical about electrical pumping devices, this might affect you psychologically and affect the milk letdown. But, all you have to do is relax; this will trigger hormones that will increase the milk letdown.
- Place the breast shield on your nipple or rather the areola region.
- Turn on the machine: use the lowest suction of the electric pump and then increase as time progresses; basically, it adjusts itself making the motions inconsistent just like those of a suckling baby. This increases the milk production. Depending on the quantity needed, you can keep pumping until you feel both breast are flat or empty. Upon completion, clean the areola region again and viola, you’re done!
Some mothers do have complications using electric pumps, in which they either feel uncomfortable or just simply cannot express enough milk. If this happens to you, you should visit your hospital and meet with a lactation expert so that they can assist you and teach you how to properly pump.