How To Correctly Use A Breast Pump?
Breastfeeding is very important for the well-being of the newborn. Here’s how to use a breast pump correctly.
Today’s working moms prefer to use breast pumps to express milk and later feed it to their babies when they are at work. Breast pumps are devices that are used by lactating mothers to express their milk from their breasts. This system is widely used in the United States. Breast pumps are also used to increase the amount of milk production. That expressed milk is also donated to the milk for infants who don’t receive their mother’s milk or who cannot extract enough milk from the breast. It is a good way to feed the baby while the mother is unable to feed.
Types of breast pumps
There are different types, styles, and brands of breast pump out there. While you may find it uncomfortable to use a particular type, the other can be very good, natural and relaxing. But it all depends on the budget and ease of using it.
Manual breast pumps
Hand devices operate these. They are operated by squeezing or pulling by hand in a repeated manner. It may be tiring and exhaustive too. Though these manual pumps are small and cheap, they require a lot of effort to empty the breast milk. However, manual pumps allow the user to control the pressure and frequency of milk extraction.
Battery operated breast pumps
These pumps are small and relatively easy to use. It is generally used once a day or less or when manual pumps are not comfortable. These cannot extract enough milk. So it is only a good option when the baby is required to bottle feed rarely. It is portable, and the batteries are costly, which may require replacement with time.
Electric breast pumps
Electric pumps are the best choice when pumping is required often. They are strong and powerful as their efficiency can reduce the waste of time. They also help to increase milk production. But they are larger and costlier and also need a power source as they are electrically operated.
Bulb style pumps
It is commonly known as bicycle horn pumps. But using this type of breast pump is not recommended as they because more harm to the breasts than good. Moreover, these are said to be ineffective and unhygienic.
Used breast pumps
These are the type of breast pumps that can be used by more than one user. They are usually the ones that can be rented and are commonly found in hospitals. The parts that come in contact with breast milk are usually disposable and are designed to be sterilized properly. Most breast pumps are usually used by a single person and cannot be sterilized completely.
The procedure of using breast pumps Breast pumping is a skill that can get better with time. At first, milk expression can be a little low, but as your body gets accustomed to the process, and the amount of milk ejection will certainly increase.
However, here is the way to use breast pumps –
Take your time
After giving birth, there is no hurry about requiring a pump. It is time to let your body and your baby take their sweet time to establish a relationship. But pumping would be helpful if you need to go out for some time, during the first four weeks. The mother’s body must get accustomed to milk expression at regular times. Breast pumping can be done anytime, even a little later, when the baby is a little old to stay without its mother.
Start early if your baby is unable to breastfeed
After the child’s birth, certain complicated issues arise where the baby cannot be fed the mother’s milk. It usually happens if
- The baby is premature and kept in special conditions, away from the mother or
- Mother’s milk expression is low, and the baby cannot get enough, or
- The baby is too weak itself to take in milk or the mother is under specific medications or
- To reduce the risk of getting certain infections and so on.
If this is the case, the mother should immediately start pumping after giving birth, to provide the baby nutrition at the right time, when needed
Select the right time
At your first pumping session, don’t extend it for more than fifteen minutes. At first, there will not be much yield. But with time, the body will get accustomed to the pumping habits. The key to using breast pumps is patience. With time, you can increase your pumping sessions. Breast pumping never gives the joy of feeding your baby. So many women find pumping sessions very useful just after breastfeeding their babies. And the volumes of milk expression are said to be appreciable.
Experiment at different times of the day and see when the milk expression is at its highest. Use the pumps frequently and regularly. Slowly, the body will get used to pumps, and the extra demand for milk supply will also be fulfilled.
Keep in mind the hygiene
While using breast pumps, hygiene is a very important factor for the health of both the mother and the child. Washing hands before and after using the pumps should be made a regular habit. Any part that comes in contact with the mother’s body or the child’s mouth should be washed properly. Any used and unclean part can become a hub for various pathogens and can be a potential issue for the child’s health.
It is for the mother and the child; the pumping items should be sanitized once a day, apart from thorough wash after every use. Ensure that all the pieces completely dry up after every wash before they are stored in plastic bags or containers.
Interruptions during breast pumping sessions can be a potential issue for reduced milk expression. So before your pumping sessions, prepare yourself with all the necessities that you would require during pumping, for example – phone, storage bags or bottles, cloth, water, and some snacks, air-conditioner remote, and other things. Nowadays, a specially designed bra also allows keeping the hands free by holding the pumping setup in position.
Often, for pumping moms, breastfeeding is the best place for larger volumes of milk expression during pumping sessions. However, it can be any place, but the main motto is to be relaxed and composed. A private and comfortable space is essential for the process. You can even practice taking deep breaths if required. Slow music and visualization techniques are also helpful. But patience is very important. Being relaxed stimulates the release of oxytocin in the blood, which in turn increases the milk expression. Make sure your back and arms are well supported and are not strained.
Start with pumping
Choosing the right and good quality pump is an important part. The quality of the pump matters the most for those delicate tissues. Better models have good features to make pumping a healthy, effective, and painless process. Be sure to read the user manual properly. And then undo the pumping kit. And assemble the pumping setup. Ensure that the breast phalange is of the right size. Place it properly and hold it against the breast after placing the nipple so that a distance is maintained between the wall and nipple. Make sure that you don’t hurt yourself in the process.
The breast shield has to be held against the breast by thumb and the index finger in a proper manner. It should not be too hard or too soft. Improper pressure can hamper milk expression, and pressing too hard can even damage and obstruct milk flow. The rest of the fingers can be used to support the breasts. The handwork is not required and can be kept free while using the specially designed bra for pumping purposes and provides more comfort.
The flange’s diameter should fit in properly and allow the nipple to move backward and forward when suction is applied. The breast shield must be of proper size else; it can lead to damage of areola even.
Start with your let down
Lean in and start with your pumping. Start with a low suction level and with the speed as you feel comfortable. Sophisticated breast pumps have a two-step expression technology. It is based on the process of sucking by a child. The process starts with rapid and light sucks, and slow and deep sucks follow it. Massaging the breasts before pumping may also help to express larger volumes of milk.
The milk flow
Many women don’t sense their milk flowing. When you start seeing jets of milk in the milk pouch or bottle, you will know it is happening. Set to the level of suction as you feel comfortable. Switch to the expression mode while using a two-phase expression technology, when you see those jets of milk. It is said that the first let down provides about thirty-six percent of the milk volume. It is important to take advantage of milk flow at the right time, for getting higher volumes.
The pumping sessions
After about four to six weeks, once the milk supply has been established, you can get an idea about the time taken to fill a certain amount. Different people have different periods and the amount of milk they can express. You can also switch between your breasts for five minutes while using double pumps. When the milk expression decreases, turn up the speed again with a medium suction. As the flow improves, again, lower the speed. In this way, with regular changes in the speed, continue with your pumping.
Use a double breast pump
Using a single breast pump can be time-consuming. If you have a plan to pump regularly, using double breast pumps are the best way to get more milk expression. It also raises the level of prolactin, the main hormone responsible for milk production. The milk received by double pumping also has a higher fat content and would also save time and energy from having more anymore pumping sessions. Using double pumps never means that it would collect more milk.
Having realistic goals is also necessary. Setting a daily target, as per need, will do the much-needed help. Milk production requires time, and the mum should have patience. If the required volume is obtained at one session, more pumping sessions should be avoided. But the proper fitting of the pumping items is essential.
See your comfort level
The mother’s comfort level during pumping matters the most. Usually, incorrect size causes pain or bruises on the breast. It also possesses the harm of damaging the tissues when too much pressure is applied. Reading the manual before starting to pump is essential. It provides better insight into the dos and don’ts. If facing any other issues, consulting a doctor is always the best option.