Reasons for using a breast pump:
- Increasing milk production.
- Expressing extra milk for babies with latching problems.
- Building up a stock of breastmilk, for times when mums and babies are separated.
- Expressing breastmilk for others to feed a baby.
Expressing milk with a breast pump stimulates milk supply. If you are trying to relieve engorgement, breast pumps may exasperate the problem and further increase your supply. If your milk has just come-in, gently hand express to soften your breast before latching your baby. If you are having problems with over supply or ongoing engorgement, seek help from a health care specialist.
Which breast pump to choose:
Hand pumps are cheap, but not very efficient. They can take a long time to drain the whole breast and are labour intensive.
They are a good, cheap option if you don’t need to pump frequently or you have a fast let-down.
An inexpensive, silicone pump, designed to attach to the opposite breast from the one you’re feeding from. The pump creates a strong suction, expressing and catching leaking milk. Using hand compressions on your breast will encourage even more milk to be collected.
A popular choice, which can be pricey, around £100 for a decent one. They come as either a single or a double pump and are fairly efficient at expressing milk, if used correctly. They can be noisy and will need sterilising between uses. One of the new pumps on the market is silent, it sits in your bra and can be used on the go. You can buy or borrow second hand electrical breast pumps without too much hassle. All you need to buy are the attachments, called the flange, which cost around £10.
Using a breast pump is not an accurate reflection of the quantity of milk your baby gets from your breast. Your baby breastfeeding will stimulate your hormones and let-down reflex much more effectively.
Hospital grade pumps
Only available to hire as they are too expensive to buy. Hospital grade pumps have the strongest suction, they will stimulate your supply the best, they are the quickest to use and you can pump both breasts at the same time. If you are expressing daily or you want to stimulate your milk production, these pumps are the best option.
How to get the most out of your breast pump:
Depending on why you are pumping, depends on when you should pump. If you want to increase your milk supply or your baby is not fully emptying your breast, it is advisable to pump straight after a feed. This allows time for your breasts to fill back up for the next feed and tells your body to make more milk.
If you are expressing to replace a breastfeed, with a bottle feed, then you can either express that feed when its due or express in the morning, in between feeds, when your milk supply is most abundant.
- First get comfortable and start with a breast massage. Downward strokes from the top of your breast to your nipple, work around your breast from top side to underneath. Finish with a few gentle squeezes all over.
- Use a small amount of coconut oil or breast cream inside the flange, around the part where the nipple sits. This should help to stop the pump damaging your delicate skin.
- Place the wide flange on the breast, positioning your nipple in the centre. Ensure you have the correct size cup and that you hold the pump securely in place, so the fit is tight. Breast pumping bras are available, designed to hold the pump in place, leaving you hands free. You can also make your own by cutting holes in an old bra.
- Start the suction on a low setting and only increase if it’s not painful. You do not need to use a high suction to increase the milk yield, being comfortable is the key.
- Whilst using an electric pump, you should aim for around 15 – 20 minutes on each breast. Any longer and your nipples could end up sore. If your milk stops flowing before this time, continue for a further 5 minutes, as you may stimulate another let down and will help increase your supply.
- Using a double pump is quicker and can promote a better milk production.
- You can use breast compressions at the same time to increase your milk yield
- Try to sit up straight with a forward leaning tilt, using gravity to help you, rather than leaning back.
- Once you’ve finished pumping, use your hand to express for a few extra minutes, collecting the last of the fatty milk. This also helps your milk supply.