The Basics of Breast Milk Pumping
Breast milk pumping is ideal for mothers who, in certain situations, cannot directly breastfeed their babies. When direct breastfeeding is not doable, then pumping your milk at the exact time when your baby usually feeds is the best way you can maintain your milk production.
Before you start pumping, make sure to follow these steps:
- Wash your hands with water and soap.
- If water and soap are inaccessible, use 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer, instead.
- Make sure that your pumping space is clean. If you’re outdoors, there are breastfeeding stations in malls, and other establishments, where you can pump your milk.
- Clean and sterilize your pumping equipment and prepare new storage bags for the next pumping session.
- There is no need for you to clean your breasts before pumping so pump away.
When you’re having difficulties expressing milk without your baby, then these tips might help:
- Browsing your phone for baby photos, bringing baby clothing with your baby’s scent on it.
- Place a warm cloth on your breast to open your milk ducts and stimulate milk flow.
- Use your fingertips to gently massage the top of your breasts down and over your nipples to encourage letdown.
- Relax your mind, don’t stress yourself, and take your time when pumping.
How to express breast milk
Breast milk pumping and storage tips include different ways on how to pump breast milk. Here’s how you can express breast milk using three different methods:
Method 1. Hand expression
Hand expression is the easiest way to express milk. Mothers can easily stimulate a letdown since hand expressions mimic skin-to-skin contact. Hand expression is usually done to carefully expel every drop of colostrum in the first few days after delivery. To do this method, you just need your hands and a couple of containers for storage.
Hand expression requires lots of practice, skills, and some getting used to. When you master hand expression, then it will become easier for you to gather milk without using a pump. Mothers, especially new moms, must know how to hand express their breast milk in case of emergencies.
How to do it
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Keep a clean and sterilized container by your side for letdown storage.
- Massage your breasts gently using your fingertips to open up milk ducts and stimulate milk flow.
- Hold your breast with one hand by placing your thumb on top of the breast and the rest of your fingers under it.
- Use your other hand to hold the container and catch the expressed milk.
- Gently squeeze your breast and release to put pressure on your milk ducts. Repeat this process until milk flow slows down.
- Avoid squeezing your nipple as it can cause soreness.
- It is best if you alternate hand expressing both breasts until milk flow from the breasts slows down.
- You can give your baby the bottle with expressed milk right away, or you can store it for future use.
Method 2. Manual breast pump
If you only need to occasionally pump your milk, then you can make use of a manual breast pump. A manual breast pump is operated by manually squeezing the lever, it comes with, to collect milk. It also comes with a breast shield and a container.