How to Pump Breast Milk

Learn all the tips and techniques you'll need to master breast pumping. We'll tell you what kind of pump you should get, when and how long you should pump, and how to store the breast milk.


Heading back to work soon? A breast pump will be your new BFF. Here are all the tips and techniques you'll need to keep providing your little one with breastmilk. Check to see if your insurance company will cover the cost of buying or renting a bump. If you plan to use one at least once a day, choose a double electric one, which will better stimulate the breasts and allow you to get the job done faster. Start pumping once or twice a day, a few weeks before your maternity leave ends to stockpile milk, and get the hang of it. Since your body tends to make the most milk in the morning, try to pump after that first feeding, when you're likely to have milk left over. Anytime your baby does not fully empty both breasts, you can also pump the one that still has milk. Attach the breast shields to the bottles, then fit the shields to your breasts. Turn on the pump and gradually turn up the vacuum so that your breasts are effectively stimulated to cause let down without causing pain. You should see your nipples moving rhythmically and milk should begin to drip into the bottle. With the double electric plan to pump for about 15 to 20 minutes every two to three ours that you're away from baby. Pump for a minute after the flow stops, so that your breasts are fully drained. Turn the pump off, and use a clean finger to press on your breast above the rim to break the suction. Then roll the rim down so that the top lifts off your breast before the bottom. This will help any milk that's in the shield to drop into the bottle instead of on to you. After each session, wash your pump parts with hot, soapy water and rinse well. Sterilize the pump parts once a day. You can store breast milk in BPA-free bottles, or specially designed bags. If you're freezing it, fill the container only about two-thirds of the way to the top to allow for expansion. Milk will keep for about four hours at room temperature, five days in the refrigerator, and six months in the freezer. Be sure to label it with a date as well as your child's name if she attends daycare. Once you thaw frozen breast milk you'll need to keep refrigerated and use it within 24 hours. You milk production may decrease once you head back to work. The key is to nurse often in the evenings and on weekends. The more milk you're moving, the more you'll make.

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