A few tips for the new parent on breast pumps & pumping.

Many new parents think about purchasing a breast pump or are offered a breast pump with their insurance but there is more to it than just reading the directions when it comes to pumping.

Choosing a pump can be overwhelming. First and foremost it's important to decide on why you are choosing a pump. Are you looking to increase your supply? Looking for something to hold the baby over for an occasional date night or are you needing a pump for work?

Hospital-grade pumps are considered the gold standard of breast pumps. While there is no pump as efficient as your baby, hospital-grade breast bilateral pumps can increase your prolactin levels by 30%, incredible! Prolactin (pro-milk) hormone is directly related to milk supply and it's secreted by the anterior pituitary gland.

When would a hospital-grade pump be necessary? If your baby is premature or in the NICU, if you're having difficulty establishing supply or for medical reasons for yourself or your baby that prevents you from spending adequate time to nurse, or to establish a milk supply. Hospital-grade pumps will be important for the working mom/ parent.

Hospital pumps are cleaned between users and use a closed system meaning there is no way that milk would be backing up into pump parts and exposing your baby to someone else's old milk or even your own. Personal use pumps are not approved for sharing between lactating parents, even if you found it "new" on eBay, you should talk with your insurance provider on how to obtain a new personal breast pump for a free or lower cost. The least efficient breast pumps are the battery-operated pumps. Some battery-operated/electric pumps now have the option to fit into your bra for privacy. The Willow is a popular well-liked pumped. Some battery-operated & manual pumps are low cost and simple to use but should only be used by a parent that needs to make a bottle for an outing. They aren't the best for daily use and for keeping an adequate milk supply. You have options for bilateral pumps, single pumps, manual pumps ( some parents like myself expressed more milk with these than other pumps) the cycles and timing are managed manually and should only be used by a parent that has already a well-established lactating parent/s.

What are some signs that the pump I am using is not for me?

◦ Not strong enough

◦ Limited cycling

◦ If you have a decrease in milk output

◦ If you are experiencing nipple damage from pumping.

An effective pump will be efficient.

◦ Mimics the action of the baby

◦ Appropriate suction ( not too weak not too strong)

◦ Appropriate cycling

◦ flanges are the right size for your nipples.

Speaking of flanges, how do I know if the flanges fit? Your nipple should move freely in the tunnel, you shouldn't feel it pulling on your nipple. You may also have the suction too high so start with low suction and increase to a comfortable level. Unlike breast/chestfeeding pumping should have a minimal amount of your areolae tissue in the flange. You should not experience trauma to the nipple or breasts and you should experience complete emptying of the breasts. There is an acronym called COMFY to help you remember how a flange should fit.

C: centered nipple

O: only a little or no areolar tissue in the tunnel

M: motion of breast is gentle and rhythmic

F: feels comfortable

Y: yields an empty breast

( source taken from the medela supplement PDF )

There is a recent increase in parents that choose not to breastfeed or chestfeeding but want their baby to have access to human milk. So these parents exclusively pump. If you are an exclusive pumper you should invest in a hospital-grade pump. How long should you pump? A single pumping session should last 10-15 minutes or up to 20 minutes with a manual pump. Bilateral pumping should be around 15 minutes long. If you are pumping for an outing or date night pump until you have the amount of milk you desire. If you have a premature infant or if you need to increase your supply, the pump session should continue until the milk flow stops.

How should I pump? Follow the directions for your specific pump. Wash your hands before handling any of the equipment or accessories. Massage your breast/ chest tissue before pumping. Look at pictures of your baby or even smell their clothes to help bring a letdown. Make sure you have all your equipment for pumping packed for the day and maybe even store a separate set in case you run into any parts that aren't working.

Every new parent whether, breastfeeding exclusively, pumping & breastfeeding, or pumping only should learn how to hand express their milk. Here is a handout for learning how to do that.

Hand Expression of Breastmilk handout (1).pdf

For the parent that finds their baby in the NICU here are some great starter tips on pumping and hand expressing milk. Increasing Supply--NICU Baby 2019.pdf

Here is some more information and resources on specific pumps.

What is a Hospital Grade Breast Pump? - Breastfeeding Needs

What is a Hospital Grade Breast Pump? - The Pumping Mommy

Top 5 Picks for Electric Breast Pumps (lamaze.org)

Direct resource, Lactation Education Breast-Feeding specialist certification and human lactation book.

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