If no one has talked to you about the ins and outs of breastfeeding, then, I will try. So, thank you for taking your time to read these breast pumping tips you may need as a new mom.
These are tips I got along the way.
See, when I was pregnant with my first child, I went to a lactating class, where the nurse used a doll to illustrate. It wasn’t a one to one session btw. I got good tips like, how to increase breast milk, breast pumps to use and all that.
When my baby came, I realized I knew nothing. And that’s the thing. Whatever first-time mum tips you get pre-baby, once you get your baby, you start all over again. You will find that you will have to unlearn those pre-baby breastfeeding tips so that you can learn your baby and develop fresh tips that suit them.
Let’s dive right in.
What is breast pumping?
Breast pumping is when lactating women extract milk from their breast by use of hand, manual pumps or electric pumps.
What is the purpose of pumping breast milk?
I thought pumping breast milk was solely for the baby.
Well, yes and no.
Breast pumping is largely to protect you from painful breast engorgement which could easily lead to fevers and mastitis. When your baby sleeps through a feeding, your breasts will get filled with milk that the baby was supposed to consume. Will you wait until they wake up? No. Simply pump.
Pumping breast milk also gives you time away from the baby, in the event you need a break or are going back to work.
Also, you may have a lot of milk to feed more than one baby. Pumping will give you a chance to donate to other babies.
What breast pumping tools can you use?
The three types of breast pumps are: Manual, single or double electric and the hospital grade breast pump. A manual breast pump is ideal if you see yourself pumping occasionally, while a double or single electric would be ideal if you want to pump frequently and still save time. A hospital grade pump may be used if you gave birth prematurely or to an ill baby. They are usually in hospitals.
What’s the breast pumping process?
Pumping milk is not so hard. However, If you are using your hands, the process can be a bit more challenging and if an electric pump, a lot easier!
The key thing you have to apply throughout the breast pumping process is cleanliness.
Step 1: Cleanliness
Wash your hands with soap and clean running water before anything else. Next, assemble your breast pump and clean it thoroughly in warm soapy water, then rinse with warm distilled/boiled water. Clean the area on which you will be placing your breast pump.
Be obsessed with cleanliness at this stage to prevent your baby from diarrhoea and other infection-causing germs.
Step 2: Read the breast pump manual
Follow instructions on your breast pump manual if you hadn’t. This is to prevent injuries or damaging the equipment. Then wash your hands. (lol)
Step 3: Stick the breast pump flange(s) onto your nipple
See the cone-shaped bit of your breast pump? That’s a flange. So stick it on your nipple then turn the pump on. While at it, ensure the suction and speed is low– you will want to mimic your baby’s slow suckling with your breast pump.
A high suction speed does not mean more milk production and is quite dangerous.
Step 4: Relax and pump for 10-15 minutes
You may not see milk in the first few minutes of pumping, but don’t get alarmed. To trigger a let-down, relax and have happy thoughts. Think about your baby, maybe. Remove your mind from the pumping.
I will let you in on the unhealthy tip I did for a faster let-down while pumping. I would take my phone and watch funny videos, or satisfying DIYs on Pinterest.
Another easier way is pumping while breastfeeding. If your baby is breastfeeding on your left breast, pump the right one. Your baby’s suction is the best trigger for a let-down.
What to do with breast milk after pumping
I will give my experience.
One time my nipples were so cracked and painful– I just couldn’t breastfeed my baby directly. Plus, I had the worst engorgement ever. I took out the manual breast pump I bought pre-baby, and to my delight, there was so much milk coming out. Milk I immediately put in a baby bottle and fed my 4 weeks old son.
So yes, you can give freshly pumped milk to your baby, using a baby bottle, or a spoon.
Either that, or storing the milk for baby’s future consumption.
Here is what worked for me.
I had so much milk. I breastfed while pumping. Yep, that’s how much it was.
When my baby slept through his feedings, I would pump, then store the milk in my freezer. Granted my breasts would be empty, but by the time my baby woke up, I had milk and breastfed him directly.
Each time I pumped, I stored milk in the freezer. Whether I woke up with an engorgement or my baby slept through his feeding, I would pump for my wellbeing, pour the milk in Lansinoh storage bags which I’d then lay flat in the freezer.
I have repeated ‘stored milk in the freezer’ to emphasize that freshly pumped milk stored in the freezer can go up to twelve months, depending on the freezer you are using. However, if you choose to store it at room temperature, don’t give it to the baby after 6 hours are over.
How to handle frozen milk before feeding the baby
Let’s say you are going back to work and would like to delegate the feeding duty to someone else. I will tell you what worked for me.
I implemented the First in First out (FIFO) rule. Meaning, the oldest bag of milk is what I would thaw and give to my baby first. So remember to always label your bags completely, with dates.
2 methods of thawing worked for me:
Bowl of warm water
Simply put your bag of breast milk in a bowl of warm water. Not hot. Keep replacing the water each time it cools down. Once the milk is defrosted and warm, give the baby.
Thaw in the refrigerator
Simply remove the frozen milk from the freezer and put it in the refrigerator. This is ideal if you want to breastfeed the baby from a baby bottle in the morning. Thawing breast milk in the refrigerator takes between 8-12 hours. To feed the baby, remove the thawed milk from the refrigerator, place it in a bowl of warm water and you’re good to go.
- Never thaw breast milk at room temperature.
- Never refreeze breast milk that’s already been thawed.
- Throw away any left over breast milk. If your baby doesn’t finish the thawed milk in one sitting, pour the left over in a sink and responsibly throw away the storage bag.
While technology now allows mums to delegate feeding duties to someone else, it is important to maintain cleanliness in how you handle breast milk equipment. Think clean hands, surfaces, towels, baby bottles and so on. Go ‘OCD’ if you have to– you don’t want your baby having a diarrhoea because of poor hygiene.