What to Expect When Pumping Breast Milk

Even though it is normal, not all mothers are comfortable with the idea of breast milk pumping. Perhaps you have already made up your mind that you will always breastfeed your baby. However, there will be instances where you have to turn to pumping so that your baby can get his/her liquid gold.

Maybe you need help in expressing milk, or you are unable to breastfeed. There are a lot of reasons why some moms have to depend on pumping, and it is perfectly okay. 

Know What Type of Breast Pump is Best for You

Before you venture into pumping breast milk, you have to identify first which type would be suitable for you. Each mom is unique, so you have to find out if you are better with a manual or an electric breast pump.

You can always consult a lactation consultant or your doctor to find out a specific type or model of breast pump. The best manual breast pump in the market is as good as an electric breast pump because of its features like 2-phase suctioning. However, you might benefit from an electric breast pump if you don’t want to manually intervene during pumping. 

Another consideration here is that manual breast pumps are more affordable and portable. You don’t need to have them connected close to an outlet compared to an electric breast pump. There are even passive manual pumps that act as milk catchers to collect milk from the other breast. 

And of course, having fewer parts means a lower chance of user error when it comes to cleaning. However, some moms prefer electric pumps since they are effortless to use, and you can pump both breasts at the same time. This way, you can save time while also collecting more milk without getting tired. 

When Can You Start Pumping

The right time to start pumping depends on a lot of factors. For example, your hospital might recommend you to pump right after your baby is born. This way, you can encourage your milk supply and make breastfeeding easier. Sometimes, you might not also be able to nurse your baby after birth, so you have to collect milk and feed him/her using bottles. 

Some moms also start pumping only after they’ve established breastfeeding, which is usually when the baby is around 4 to 6 weeks old. This is ideal so that you and your baby can get comfortable with breastfeeding first before feeding him/her using a bottle. At the same time, you’ll have more time between feeding sessions for you to pump and store milk for later use. 

In turn, it’s like you’re also taking advantage of your milk supply so you can build a stash in case you can’t produce enough milk in the next few days or if you have to go to work. But of course, your lifestyle will dictate if you can go back and forth between using bottles or not. 

What is the Best Time to Pump

The best time to pump will vary for every mom. You might find that pumping at a certain time of the day lets you produce more milk compared to another instance. But if you want to create a stockpile or you want to increase your milk supply, you can pump in the morning one hour after your baby nurses. 

Breasts are fuller early in the day, so you have a higher chance of collecting more milk if it is around this time. However, you can also pump in the evening to increase your milk supply late in the day. And speaking of increasing your milk supply, try pumping every two hours in between feedings to encourage milk production. If you aren’t home, pump during your baby’s nursing sessions, so you’re still aligned with the feeding demands. 

Another good instance to pump is when your baby is nursing. The other breast will also produce milk so you can use a milk catcher or a breast pump on it to save milk. At the same time, you can even pump after each feed. This will also help you empty both breasts and prevent engorgement. And if you’re busy, doing time-efficient pumping techniques like this will make it easier for you to build a stockpile. 

How to Start Pumping

You should expect that you might not produce a large quantity of milk immediately. So to help you produce more, make sure that you are feeling relaxed. Find a quiet place and do a gentle breast massage to encourage milk let-down. You can also use a warm compress or imagine your baby before pumping. 

You can also expect to not get a good seal with the pump flange immediately, so check if you are using the proper size for you. You can also put some lanolin on your areola and nipple to create a good seal. And when you’re using the breast pump, it’s ideal to mimic how a baby nurses. Start with a slow suction rhythm and then gradually increase the speed when the milk starts.

What Does Breast Milk Looks Like

Usually, the color of the breast milk itself is nothing to be concerned about. But it will make you feel much better if you consult a professional if you feel worried. Breast milk can have a hint of other colors like green or orange if the mom is consuming foods with dye. 

At the same time, the milk’s composition also changes throughout the day, and as your baby grows. This means breast milk can transition from yellowish or orangey to white or bluish to meet the nutritional demands of your growing baby. 

Breast milk is also watery, but it’s normal for it to separate when it is stored in the refrigerator. Of course, spoiled milk is different and unsafe, so check if it has a sour smell. 

How to Maintain Your Breast Milk Supply

According to Cute Little Darling, your milk supply can fluctuate, so it’s normal to get frustrated if you’re not getting the amount of milk you expect to have. You need to practice with your pump, so you know what rhythm and techniques work best with you. At the same time, try to find a good schedule to pump. 

However, be aware that other factors, such as your baby’s age, your emotions, and even your breastfeeding habits can affect your milk yield. If you’re not exclusively breastfeeding or if it has been some time since you last pumped, you can expect a lower milk yield. Also, the pump itself may not be suitable for you, so you have to use another model. 

The higher demand there is, the higher the supply will be. Therefore, you need to pump at the same time your baby is feeding to have a consistent milk supply while pumping. And as mentioned earlier, squeezing a pumping session after an hour after nursing will help in increasing the supply of milk. However, do not over exhaust yourself since this can also lower your ability to produce more milk. 

You can also increase the demand for milk by pumping in an on and off pattern. For example, divide pumping sessions in an hour where you pump for 10 minutes and then rest for 10 minutes. But still, some moms will respond to this increased milk demand later than other moms. 

At the end of the day, don’t get too stressed if it feels like you aren’t producing enough milk. Consult with your doctor and know that it takes some time to get used to pumping.