As a Lactation Consultant, I’m always getting a million questions about everything to do with Pumping Breastmilk! Pumping is different than Breastfeeding and your body will not always be friends with the idea…..
PUMPING IN THE FIRST WEEK:
If you are pumping in the first few days after your baby is born, expect NOTHING!! For about 2-5 days, you have colostrum milk (which is produced in your breasts starting at 16 weeks of pregnancy, so trust me, it’s in there!)
Colsotrum is thick, and harder to actually collect with a pump, so try to hand express also. You might not get anything when you pump, but it’s good to stimulate your hormone if that’s what you need.
If you are pumping to increase your supply, then pump after feeds.
If you are pumping to soften your engorged/painful breasts, then pump just a bit, to soften your breasts.
PUMPING TIPS TO GET THE MOST MILK:
Try using warm cloths on your breasts, massage, and hand expression before pumping to get the milk going before you start pumping.
Pump for 10-15 minutes… to increase supply, pumping more often is more helpful than pumping for a longer session.
DON’T hurt yourself. Cranking the pump up really high will NOT necessarily give you more milk, because if you’re in pain, your stress hormone will work against you. Make sure it’s comfortable. Use your hands to massage or gently squeeze more milk out if you need to.
Cut some holes in an old sports bra to make a ‘hands free’ bra for pumping (or you can always spend a bit and buy some great hands-free pumping bras.)
PUMPING AFTER YOU’VE BEEN BREASTFEEDING FOR A WHILE:
Pumping is not an accurate measure of how much milk you have, so don’t freak about your milk supply if you start pumping and don’t get much! A baby that is breastfeeding well can get WAY more milk that a pump… everybody responds to pumps differently. I’ve breastfed 3 kids and my body ‘sucks’ at pumping….
If you are pumping to build a ‘freezer stash’ after you’ve been breastfeeding for at least a couple of weeks, it can be helpful to pump around the same time each day to teach your body to build in a bit of extra milk supply for the ‘pump baby’.
Don’t expect extra milk to just be waiting if you just randomly pump, your body has adapted to whatever baby has been needing and doesn’t have extra ounces just lying around!
If breastfeeding is going well (baby is gaining weight, pees & poos are good, breastfeeding isn’t painful) then it usually takes 2-3 weeks for you to reach your full milk supply.
The average feed for a breastfed baby is only 2-4 ounces once they are around 2 weeks old, to 6 MONTHS!! They don’t need more milk as they get older. Instead, their intestines mature, so they are able to absorb more of the milk… they also poo way less around the 2-3 month mark because of this!
You don’t need to pump in the night if baby starts sleeping longer, your body will adapt (and if your baby is sleeping all night, then that’s ok!)
MILK STORAGE AND PUMP CLEANING:
Ideally, you should wash your pump parts with hot, soapy water every time you pump, but you don’t have to sterilize every time! Boiling parts for 5 minutes (or using a steamer) every few days if you’re using it often is fine. YOU DON’T NEED TO WASH THE TUBES that come with your pump.
If you’re pumping for a healthy, term baby MANY times per day (it’s soooo hard!!) you can pour the milk into a storage container in the fridge, then just rinse your pump parts and keep them in the fridge until the next session. Wash thoroughly every 12-24 hours.
Don’t add warm milk to cold milk. If you pump a little bit everyday, you can put it in the fridge each day, and then you can mix the milk from those pumping sessions together, (make sure it’s all the same temp before you mix it) then you can freeze it.
Freeze milk flat in Breastmilk storage bags, so they are easy to stack.
Check out the Toronto Public Health Breastmilk Storage guidelines for fridge/freezer rules
Watch the Stanford University Hand Expression video to learn how to Hand Express milk/colostrum.
If you’re in Toronto or the GTA and would like more information about Lactation Consultant Home Visits or Breastfeeding Prep Consultations, then feel free to give me a call (416) 300-7064 www.nutmegconsulting.ca