As said before, the most common reason to pump breast milk is to collect the milk so that your baby can have it when you are not around. Your partner or any other helper can feed the baby the milk from a bottle, thus help you to get more undisturbed sleep or take a break from baby care. Besides this, feeding the expressed milk to the baby can be very useful especially, when you are resuming work but want to continue nursing. Also pumping breast milk helps to maintain milk supply when you and your baby are together. Hence, knowing how to pump and store breast milk can make your baby’s as well as your life much easier and less stressful.
However, research shows that most mothers don’t know how to pump more breast milk and how long to do it. Well, pumping breast milk does require a little bit of care and planning, and one can start practicing it 1 or 2 weeks before resuming work. Initially, one may not get enough milk, but after practicing for a couple of days the breasts will start producing more milk. The two most common methods of pumping is either with hand or using a breast pump. Both the methods are equally good and how to go about using them is explained in the article below.
The best time to learn hand expression is while breastfeeding the baby. The let-down or milk ejection reflex triggers the milk to flow in both the breasts, which enables to express milk from the side where the baby is not nursing. Wash your hands and the container in which you will collect the milk. Before expressing the milk, gently massage your breasts down and out toward the nipple or keep a warm, moist clean cloth on your breasts for 3 – 5 minutes before expressing as it will help to stimulate a let-down reflex.
Start stimulating by holding the breast between your fingers and thumb, placed nearly 1 – 1½ inches back from your nipple. Slowly push inward, straight back toward your chest wall and move your thumb and fingers towards the nipple in a rolling motion. Repeat the process and this time roll your hand around your breast. Don’t squeeze your nipple and switch breasts after every few minutes for better results.
With Breast Pump
Nowadays, there are many breast pumps available in the market but the most commonly used are electric breast pumps and battery operated breast pumps. Both the pumps are easy to use but battery operated breast pumps tend to be a little noisier than the electric pumps. So look for pumps that mimic the sucking action of your baby and prevent too much pressure or pain. Also use the right size plastic cups for your breasts and position them properly so that you don’t get pinched or irritated.
While using an electric pump or battery operated pump, put the breast cup or shield over your breast and then switch on the machine. The machine will start suctioning the milk in to an attached container. If you are using a manual pump, you need to express the milk by employing a squeeze mechanism or pulling a plunger with your hand. It normally takes 10 – 15 minutes to pump both breasts with an electric pump and around 40 – 45 minutes with a hand pump.
Pumping your breasts manually or with a machine usually takes the same amount of time as breastfeeding. However, after continuous practice using a good pump, you will be able to express milk in just a few minutes. Pumping right after feeding your baby, will help your breasts produce more milk. Also to maintain your milk supply, drink lots of fluid and give extra feeding and spend more time with your baby when you are together.