Pumping Breast Milk

Working Mothers

Pumping is a great way to ensure your baby continues to exclusively receive breast milk if you have to be away. Women might also pump to maintain or increase milk supply or to relieve engorgement.

Although breast pumps are designed to try and imitate a baby sucking, they are not generally as good as a baby at getting the milk out. There are, however, many different types of pump and selecting the right pump for you is important. Some women are able to pump and remove breast milk very well from the breasts. But because breastfeeding and pumping are different, some women find they do not get as much milk out the first few times they pump. This can happen even if mom has a good milk supply. The amount of milk that is pumped will often increase after pumping for a few days. Talk to a lactation specialist if you have questions or are having problems pumping.

A pumping session will usually take about as long as breastfeeding does. With time, practice, and a good pump the time needed can often reduce to as little as 10-15 minutes. Pumping can be done right after a feeding, between feedings, or, if you are apart from your baby, on a regular schedule. Usually it is best to not pump before feeding baby to make sure there is plenty of milk for the feeding. However, in a case of engorgement pumping a few ounces of milk may help baby latch better.

If you are pumping to increase milk supply, power pumping may help. The goal is to send a signal to the brain that baby needs more milk. The body will begin to increase milk production. Power pumping is usually done anytime the mother feels her supply is getting low.

The mind plays a big part in pumping success. Here are some ideas to be able to pump breast milk effectively:

  • Get in a comfortable position.
  • Relax! Use whatever techniques to help you, such as meditation, soft music, etc.
  • Have your baby in the same room with you, if possible.
  • Think about your baby.
  • Some women find they pump more milk if they look at a picture of their baby.
  • Record the sounds of your baby and play it while pumping.
  • Play relaxing music or try deep relaxation breathing.
  • Try and clear your mind of distractions.

If you are still having trouble, try the following:

  • Drink a glass of water.
  • Apply a warm compress to your breasts.
  • Massage your breasts.

No matter what your reason is for pumping, it is always a good idea to talk to a lactation specialist about pumping to make sure you are able to be successful.



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