Tips On Using A Breast Pump So You May Continue To Give Baby Breastmilk, Even Once You Return To Work Or If You Are Away From Baby.

New moms everywhere, unite in a head nod about what an amazing and wonderful thing nursing your baby can be. Breastfeeding is so special, but let's face it -- many women can't nurse their babies all the time. (Hello!... work, sleep or -- gasp! -- a much-needed night out with your hubby can often interfere with the continual nursing process.) Pumping is the next best thing, but many new moms find the task a bit daunting. Never fear! We've got tips on when to start pumping, how to maximize those pump sessions, how to use a breast pump and tips for buying the right breast pump to fit your needs.

Molly Cerreta Smith

First and foremost, All About Breastfeeding's Lori J. Isenstadt, IBCLC, RLC, stresses that, assuming breastfeeding is going well, new moms need not pump at all for the first six to eight weeks of their baby's life. She said the first four to six weeks are an especially crucial time for moms and babies to work out their nursing groove and for the body to recognize the appropriate production of milk.

However, if there are breastfeeding issues (like if baby isn't getting enough to eat and therefore losing weight), she says a new mom should begin pumping right away. "Any time your baby is getting a supplemental bottle, you should be pumping," Lori says.

When to start pumping
After the initial six weeks, so long as the breastfeeding is going well, she says, "Women can pump at will if they are going back to work or school or need to travel." She also notes that a woman going back to work should start pumping and storing milk about two weeks before the end of her maternity leave, and only pump once a day. (If a woman pumps too much, she'll end up with super-engorged breasts once she returns to work and can't pump as much as she had been doing at home in conjunction with nursing, she warns.) She also adds, "You need to use that valuable time with your newborn, not pumping."

And while many women feel "anxiety" that they won't have enough milk, she ensures that if a woman pumps once a day for the two weeks prior, she should have plenty of milk for the first day away from baby, plus a one-day "emergency" stash.

How long will pumping take?
Lori notes that a 15-minute pumping session should express about 95 percent of the mother's milk supply -- and with reasonable comfort. However, she advises, if a woman is not getting enough, the pump could be to blame. She added that a woman should be able to pump a sufficient amount of milk within that time and without discomfort or additional "tricks" (we'll get to that…). If she's not getting enough, then she believes that the woman may not be using the best pump for her needs.

Types of breast pumps
Lori says that there are all kinds of great pumps out there, but she recommends the Medela brand. However, with any brand, there are several types, so a new mom should determine her need for the pump before purchasing one. While a single-side handheld trigger pump, such as the Medela Harmony (pictured, right), is very cost effective, Lori cautions that it's really only for very occasional use and best for stay-at-home moms that only need to be away from baby once or twice a month.

"A woman pumping three to four times a day will really only be successful with a good double-sided electric pump," Lori says. The Medela Pump in Style (pictured, above) is her pick. And for moms that have breastfeeding issues (engorging, cracked nipples, etc.), Lori recommends renting a hospital-grade pump, like the Medela Symphony, to get the most milk in the least amount of time and in the most possible comfort.

Once a new mom has the correct pump, the next step is ensuring she's maximizing her pump sessions. Many new moms have probably heard tips such as staying well hydrated and picturing waterfalls to help increase milk supply, but Lori insists that if breastfeeding is going as it is supposed to and a woman is using a good pump that is suited to her needs, she shouldn't have to do anything additional to stimulate the milk. If there is a problem, Lori says, "It could be the pump or how she is using it."

Tips for expressing milk with a breast pump
Lori advises that a woman ensures she's in a relaxed, quiet environment while pumping. She suggests: "Taping, then listening to, baby's cries, looking at a picture of baby or keeping one of baby's blankets nearby while pumping." She added visualization is an excellent way to help assist in let-down. She tells her clients to envision "a bottle overflowing with white milky fluid."

Every pump is different, so a new mom needs to carefully read the instructions for assembling her pump before getting started. Don't forget to wash hands before pumping! For the most comfort, a woman should place the breast cup or shield over her breasts, then turn on the machine and adjust the levels (or squeeze the hand mechanism of a manual pump). The breasts should be positioned so they are not pinched while pumping. Remember, this process should not hurt, though it can be slightly uncomfortable. There are varying sizes of breast cups, so a woman should make sure she has the right fit. Also, it's important that the parts are cleaned thoroughly after every usage!

While pumping may not be as sentimental as nursing your child, it's still an excellent way to ensure that baby is getting your milk. So get pumped about pumping!

Video: Tips for breastfeeding

More breastfeeding tips:

-- Breastfeeding and birth control: What are your options?

-- Breastfeeding and returning to work or school

-- Breastfeeding and weight loss

-- Breastfeeding does not cause breast saggings

Tags: bottle electronic lacatation medela pumping

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