How to Begin Breast Pumping

As the latter part of a two-part series: Guidance for New Breast-Pumping Mamas, we are answering questions directly from new moms uncertain how to begin breast pumping.

If you are a newly anointed mom and would like to learn how to begin breast pumping, this post is for you!

Last week we addressed a New Jersey exclusive pumping mom’s concern that she constantly smells like sour breast milk—reassuring her that if she does in fact smell—she’s certainly not alone.

Additionally, there are many ways to overcome a not-so-pleasing lactic aroma.

(Read How To Stay Sane and Smell Sweet While Pumping here.)

How to Begin a Breast Pumping Routine

This week we’re talking about how to begin a breast pumping routine, thanks to another great question.

This one is from Claire, a pumping mama who hails from Saint Paul, Minnesota.  

Claire asks,

How do I begin a breast pumping routine if I’m not an exclusive pumper? I barely have to time nurse my infant and stay sane, but my maternity leave ends in three weeks and I know I have to begin pumping regularly to stockpile my workday reserves. Help!”

First, know that you’re not alone.

This is one of the most common questions we receive from new moms who want to learn how to begin breast pumping.

You’re committed to nurturing and nourishing your precious little one for as long as necessary, but the reality is—you have to go back to your other (income-generating) job.  

So in your last weeks, while you’re at home full-time, you’re torn.

You want to spend every minute with your baby (and every other minute asleep). And yet, you have to strike a balance, finding the time and space to pump.

As a quick aside, there are plenty of circumstances in which new moms need to pump beyond the return to your day job.

  • Maybe you’re pumping to ease the burden of nighttime feeds.
  • Maybe you’re pumping to increase your supply.
  • And obviously, you’re pumping if you’re an Exclusive Pumper (EP-er).

If any of these apply to you, keep on reading. But keep in mind that depending on your specific goals, your personal schedule will vary.

General Advice on How to Begin Breast Pumping

The good news is you can establish a breast pumping routine rather quickly.

Your individual sessions will become quick and easy. We encourage you to embrace this time as your own. Approach each pumping session as your sacred personal time and fill it with music, reading, or good ole’ golden silence.  

Positivity = Positive Yields = Routine.

Approach your pumping sessions positively.

When you think of the time as something designated FOR YOU, instead of a chore required OF YOU, you will find pumping to be a success.

A positive, happy mindset will affect both your yield and your sanity.  So, fill the time with whatever makes you happy: your favorite music, some guilty-pleasure reality TV or a Netflix binge, BFF phone chats, ice cream, a kindle or dare we say, a physical, tangible, made-with-paper-book (on any topic except babies, parenting, nursing or breast-pumping!).

Humans make a habit of those things that feel good. Make your pumping time something that you associate as pleasurable to your body, mind, and soul. Soon enough you will find that these individual sessions have found their way into a routine.

Make your pumping time something that you associate as pleasurable to your body, mind, and soul. Soon enough you will find that these individual sessions have found their way into a routine.

Be consistent.

When you begin breast pumping, whether you’re exclusively pumping or just pumping a great deal – consistency is key. If you pump like a champ one day and skimp the next, the variation could lead to problems. Not nice things like clogged ducts or a disrupted milk supply. You can combat this by trying to begin breast pumping around the same time each day. This not only helps your body establish a biorhythm, but also provides structure.

If you pump like a champ one day and skimp the next, the variation could lead to problems.

Not nice things like clogged ducts, sore nipples or a disrupted milk supply. You can combat this by starting your breast pump routine around the same time each day.

This not only helps your body establish a biorhythm, but also provides structure.

Judge by your yield.

Every woman is different and as such, breast milk yields will vary.

It may take you 30 minutes to express 3 oz., or 10 minutes to express 4 oz. It depends obviously on your breasts, but also upon the time of the day, the number of postpartum weeks and (as noted above) your consistency.

Keep a log.

Get a magnetized pad or whiteboard to keep posted on the fridge; pull the legal pad from your work-bag, or – ahem, it’s 2016 – get an app!

Before you begin breast pumping, record the time.

Once you’re done, add the yield you produce for each pumping session. Soon enough a pattern will emerge.  It sounds simple, but when you’re deprived of sleep and anxious about meeting your baby’s needs, a recorded log can go a long way in providing clarity.

Understand what the experts say.

The research tells us that…babies take in an average of 25 oz. (750 mL) per day between the ages of 1 month and 6 months. Different babies take in different amounts of milk; a typical range of milk intakes is 19-30 oz per day (570-900 mL per day). 

Based on this information, the sources at kellymom.com provide a calculator to help quantify your baby’s intake needs. This can help determine needed pumping frequency to produce the yield specific to your baby. 

Consult your trusted resources.

You are surrounded by experience: friends who have pumped before you, family who has navigated the waters of breast pumping, and your physician and/or OBGYN. These are sources to consult for information, anecdotes, and support. While the ideal pumping schedule is that which works best for you and your baby, you’re not alone in the process of determining this working ideal. Help is always near. Just ask.

These are sources to consult for information, anecdotes, and support. While the ideal pumping schedule is that which works best for you and your baby, you’re not alone in the process of determining this working ideal. Help is always near. Just ask.

Specific Guidance

EP-ers

With a newborn, you will need to pump every 2-3 hours to meet the average 8-12 daily feeds.

In the first couple of weeks, you may want to pump twice during the night (although this is a personal choice). Following this schedule and duration will help you to establish a constant milk supply. You will likely drop breast pumping sessions near the 3-month mark, once you and your baby are in sync and your breasts are fully efficient.

Supplementers

It’s recommended that you hold off on pumping to stockpile reserves until the second or third month—or whenever your breast milk supply has regulated itself and you’re confident in your nursing abilities.

Once you are ready, set a daily time to pump and stick to it.

Your body will adapt as though it’s adding an extra feeding for your baby. Based on their experiences, our resident moms-in-the-know recommend either right before bed (preferably after a nice warm bath), just after putting your little one down for the night, or directly after your dinner.

Work-Returners

Beginning 3-4 weeks before returning to work, follow the advice above as though you are merely seeking to supplement your daily nursing routine.

Be patient with yourself and kind to your body. Try to resist the nagging anxiety of having to fill a freezer with milk deposits. You will get there one day at a time.

Once you’re used to pumping once a day, add a second session (preferably at the other end of the day). This will give you a great foundation for your reserves before you return to work.

Thanks for the question, Claire! And lots of luck and support to you as you learn how to begin breast pumping and find your groove!


Sources:

http://www.pumpstation.com/breastfeeding/help-library/breast-pumping-guidelines

http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com

http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/milkcalc/

The post How To Begin Breast Pumping appeared first on Breast Pump Blog | Breastfeeding Blog.