Mom bottle-feeding her baby.


Essential Steps to Take When Preparing to Pump

Breast pumping is a great way to supplement nursing sessions and provide your baby with essential vitamins and minerals regardless of where you are. Whether you’re planning a return to the office or taking a well-deserved night off, expelled breast milk allows you to step away without having to rely on formula. While the process of breast pumping may seem daunting at first, after a few sessions you’ll quickly get the hang of it. To help you through the process, here are key steps to take when preparing to pump.


Preparing to Breast Pump While Pregnant

There are several factors that can contribute to the success of your breast pumping efforts. To get the most out of your sessions and stay comfortable in the process, take the following actions to prepare.


  1. Understand the Benefits of Breast Pumping

    The primary benefit of breast pumping is providing ongoing nutrition to your baby. This is especially important for moms who plan to return to work or anticipate being away from their baby at any point during the first year of their life. Breast milk is easier to digest than formula and is rich in antibodies, vitamins, proteins, and fats necessary for a healthy development. Breast pumping extends these benefits, even when you’re unable to be physically present.


  2. Choose a Breast Pump

    Choosing a breast pump during pregnancy is another essential step to take. Doing this in advance increases the likelihood that you’ll actually have a pump available and ready to use when you need it. There are several different options for breast pumps on the market, all of which have unique benefits. The best way to find something that works for you is to do a little research, talk to friends and family, and discuss any specific needs with your doctor.


  3. Order an Insurance Covered Breast Pump

    Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, new and expecting moms are eligible to receive an insurance covered breast pump at zero out of pocket costs. While coverage may vary based on insurance provider, state, and medical needs, most plans offer an electric breast pump from leading brands. You can work with a medical supply company like Byram Healthcare to get started on the process during pregnancy, so you have everything you need once your baby arrives.

    Order Your Insurance Covered Breast Pump
  4. Read the Manufacturer’s Instructions

    If you’re able to get your breast pump before delivery, take the time to read the manufacturer’s instructions and familiarize yourself with the pump. Doing this during pregnancy means that you’ll have time to sit down without interruptions. While you can still go over this information after delivery, it may be a little more difficult to concentrate.


  5. Understand How to Alleviate Discomfort

    Some women experience discomfort during breast pumping. If this happens, it’s likely due to improper fitting flanges or breast shields. Breast pumping can actually help alleviate uncomfortable engorgement and blocked ducts, so if you’re feeling any discomfort during the process or notice signs of sore nipples, try ordering a different size flange. Most breast pumps come with various sizes for you to try from the start, while others require you to purchase them separately.


  6. Learn How to Store Your Breast Milk

The length of time before breast milk goes bad depends on the storage method. When kept at room temperature, it needs to be used within four to six hours. However, if kept in a deep freezer, it can last up to 12 months. Take the time to familiarize yourself with different storage methods and stock up on supplies to build a freezer stash.

While some mothers choose to begin pumping as soon as they’ve delivered, there’s no strict timeline of when you should start. During the first four weeks of your baby’s life, you should primarily focus on establishing breastfeeding and bonding with your newborn. If you also want to pump, that’s fine. If you don’t have the time or energy yet, that’s okay too.

Breast pumping is a personal experience and, in most healthy babies, there’s no medically defined period of time when you should start. However, if your pediatrician recommends pumping to help supplement feedings—such as in the case of tongue ties or poor weight gain—it’s important to follow their advice. If your baby is unable to breastfeed, for whatever reason, you can also work with a lactation consultant to try to improve milk flow and strengthen latch.


Steps to Prepare for a Pumping Session

Getting ready to breast pump doesn’t have to take long, but there are a few things you can do to help make the process more comfortable, safe, and efficient. Here are tips to follow when preparing for a pumping session.

Time it Right

Once you begin breast pumping regularly, you’ll likely notice that sessions are more effective when you pump one hour after a feed. This can improve overall milk output and free up more of your time. However, every mom is different so feel free to experiment with timing when you begin and find what works best for you.

Wash Your Hands

Regardless of where you are or what you’re doing, always wash your hands prior to touching your breast pump and beginning your pumping session. This will reduce the risk of cross-contamination and ensure that expressed milk is free of germs before it’s stored.

Assemble the Breast Pump

Before you begin pumping, it’s important to take the time to properly assemble your breast pump. The more often you do this, the easier it becomes, but you should always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions if you’re unsure.

Be Prepared

Unless you have a hands-free pump, get everything ready that you’ll need to access during your pumping session. This could include a drink, a snack, your phone or computer, a book, your TV remote, cloths to combat any drips, breast milk bottles or storage bags, and anything else you might need.

Get Comfortable

Before you pump, try to get comfortable and relax. When you’re stressed, your hormones can restrict let down, which leads to inefficient pumping. By getting into a relaxed state, you’ll help release oxytocin and stimulate your let down reflex. Make sure you use the bathroom before you start so you don’t have to endure pumping with a full bladder.

Stimulate Ducts

Stimulating your milk ducts can help you get the most out of your let down, so take a few preemptive actions to encourage this process. One way to do this is to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby. You can also apply a warm compress, massage your breasts, or use the let down setting on your breast pump.

Use Your Breast Pump Strategically

Pay special attention to your milk flow as you’re using your pump. If your pump has two phase technology, you’ll be able to switch between stimulation and expression mode. Switching to stimulation mode during your let down allows you to increase your flow and collect more milk during each pumping session. It may take some time to establish a pumping routine, but the more you do it the easier it will be.

Store Your Breast Milk

Pumping sessions can vary in time. If you have an early let down, you likely won’t need to pump any longer than 15 minutes. If you have later let downs, it may take 30 minutes or more to drain your breast. Regardless, once you’re done it’s important to properly store your breast milk. Follow these guidelines to optimize safety when storing your breast milk.

Clean the Breast Pump

After putting breast milk into the proper storage container, always clean your breast pump thoroughly. You’ll need to clean your pump after every use to reduce the risk of bacterial growth. Follow the CDC guidelines to cleaning your breast pump and sanitize it at least once a day for added safety.

To help you get the most out of your breastfeeding and breast pumping experience, Byram Healthcare provides new and expecting mothers with educational materials and supplies to support their journey throughout pregnancy and parenthood. Using our three-step ordering process, new mothers can order their insurance covered breast pump quickly and easily. Byram Healthcare works with both providers and manufacturers to connect new and expecting mothers with the perfect breast pump for their needs. To get started, simply browse our selection of breast pumps, and begin your order.