Pumping Breast Milk For Beginners

Pumping Breast Milk For Beginners

Whether you’re exclusively pumping breast milk or balancing pumping with breastfeeding, the first time you pick up your breast pump to begin expressing can feel pretty daunting. You may pressure yourself to achieve an excellent flow from the get-go. But gaining a regular and successful breast pumping routine is about being patient, committed and calm. Easier said than done, right? We know that getting used to using a breast pump can be challenging for new mums, which is why we’ve put this guide together to help breast pumping beginners establish a schedule.

What breast pump should I use?

The type of breast pump you purchase will depend upon your individual situation. Some mothers need to exclusively pump breast milk because their baby has arrived preterm and they are unable to be breastfed. Others need to supplement nursing with expressing milk because they are not with their babies 24/7. Some breast pumps are optimized to be used 8-10 times a day, while others will suffice for expressing milk once daily. Breast pumps can be operated manually or be electrically driven. To find out what kind of breast pump is best for your situation and your baby, see our helpful guide here.

When should I start pumping breast milk?

Mothers exclusively using a breast pump

Mothers of babies who are preterm or ill, or mothers who have chosen to pump breast milk exclusively, should try to begin expressing within six hours of giving birth. This will allow you to start establishing a routine straight away.

Mothers exclusively using a breast pump

Allow time for you and your baby to become comfortable with breastfeeding before broaching pumping. This may take a few weeks. Once you are happy with your baby’s progress nursing, you can then start using your breast pump to store your expressed milk.

How do I get started?

Before your first time using the breast pump

Always read the instructions that come with your breast pump before you begin expressing milk. While every breast pump aims to fulfill a common function, they are all different, with varying features and parts.

Make sure you have all the accessories you need. Some breast pumps come in handy kits that can save you a lot of stress and money! In addition to your breast pump, you will need a milk collection system, including breast flanges that are the correct size for your nipples. You will also need milk storage bottles or bags for the safe keeping of your breast milk. If you plan on pumping at work, you may consider investing in a carry bag for your breast pump, and a cooler bag to keep your expressed breast milk fresh.

When using the breast pump for the first time

The most important thing to remember when using your breast pump for the first time is that getting the hang of pumping takes patience and practice. Here are a few steps that will assist you to become acquainted with expressing breast milk using a pump.

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable room to set up your breast pump.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Plug in your pump (if it is electric) and assemble your pump kit.
  4. Center the flange/s over your nipple/s and press it/them lightly against your breast/s to make an air seal. There should be a little space between your nipple and the walls of the flange tunnel. When pumping, your areola shouldn’t be drawn too far into the flange tunnel with your nipple. If you experience a lot of rubbing during pumping, you may have the wrong size flange.
  5. Turn the breast pump on (if you’re double pumping, use one arm to secure both flanges against your chest while you use your other hand to operate the pump).
  6. Begin with a higher speed and low suction to encourage your milk to start flowing.
  7. Try to relax and think of your baby breastfeeding to help stimulate a milk ejection reflex (let-down).
  8. Once your milk has started flowing, adjust the speed to medium and maintain the suction at a comfortable level.
  9. If you are looking to increase your milk volume when your milk flow begins to slow, increase the speed again to encourage another let-down.

How often should I express breast milk?

Mothers exclusively using a breast pump

For mothers exclusively using a breast pump, you should aim to be expressing eight to ten times within a 24-hour period, producing between 750 and 1,035 mL of breast milk a day to achieve full milk production. Remember that reaching full milk production is a journey, and it isn’t going to happen on your first session with the breast pump! It can take around four days to see an increase in your milk production. Take steady steps and consult your lactation specialist if any problems should arise, or you feel as though you require support to meet your goal. Once you have achieved full milk production and found your stride with the breast pump, you should expect only to need to spend around 10-15 minutes pumping per session. Keep track of how much milk you are producing every week so you can recognise whether your milk flow declines over time, and stay on top of your daily goals.

Mothers breastfeeding and pumping breast milk

For mothers alternating between breastfeeding and pumping, plan to pump either 30-60 minutes after nursing or one hour before breastfeeding. This will maintain your milk production levels so that there will still be enough milk in your breasts to nurse your baby.


A few more handy tips when pumping breast milk

  • Mothers tend to produce more milk in the morning.
  • The more pumping sessions you undergo per day, the more milk you will produce.
  • Double pumping can boost your milk production.
  • Hand express after pumping to drain your breasts and encourage faster milk production.
  • Be sure to check your breast flange size week to week, as it may change from when you first start pumping, as time goes on.

Ameda Australia are leading providers of high-quality personal and hospital-grade breast pumps and accessories. Contact us today to discuss the type of breast pump that is best for you and your baby, or shop our range.

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