The use of the breast pump brings up many doubts and concerns. Let’s see if we can resolve some, and if you have any more, feel free to ask us your questions in our comments.
Do I have to sterilize the pump every time I use it?
No. The manufacturers recommend that you sterilize the pump before it is used for the first time. After that, it is not necessary. Cleaning it the way you wash dishes in your kitchen is sufficient: by hand with soap or in the dishwasher.
It is recommended that you sterilize the pump if it has been used or you are borrowing it from someone else.
Are all breast pumps the same?
No, there are many different types of breast pumps: electric, manual, double pump, simple, etc. Every mother, based on her needs and how often the pump will be used, should find the most convenient one for her.
Also, like most consumer products, there are so many brands to choose from. Some, unfortunately, are not great, as they create a constant suction on the nipple. Sometimes this causes an issue with the extraction of the milk because it damages the nipple.
Is it better to use an electric or manual pump?
Depends on what you will use it for. Will you use the breast pump for a specific goal, or will it be used daily? How old is the baby? Does your baby only breastfeed, or are they eating solids? Something else to consider, electric pumps are more expensive. Then there are personal preferences to consider: Does it need to be silent, or do you not mind either way? Would you prefer it to be small and easy to travel with, or will it only be used at work or home? For all of these reasons, one pump is not necessarily better than the other. It all depends on your preferences and situation.
There is not much breastmilk coming out, is that all my baby is drinking?
No. The amount expressed with a breast pump is not proof of the amount of breastmilk you are producing. No matter how good, a breast pump will never have the same capacity for suction as your baby. They are by far best at this task; breast pumps are just a good imitation.
To achieve good milk extraction, the following is necessary:
- An adequate breast pump
- Knowing how to use it
The breast pump is an easy way to extract accumulated milk from the breast. Therefore it is simpler to extract milk when the baby, for whatever reason, has nursed less, which may make a milk let-down more difficult. The stimulation caused by the breast pump sends a signal to the mother’s brain that it should produce milk. This takes time and practice, especially as it takes some time to get used to at first, and some mothers may be a bit apprehensive.
I would like to increase my milk production. When should I pump my milk?
Increasing milk production, whether for relactation or to store milk, is not an easy task.
To achieve an increase in milk supply, stimulation and emptying of the breast should be increased as well. Therefore the breast pump should be used frequently, whenever possible, but for short periods of time. Using the breast pump twice a day for an hour does not help. It is better to use it many times a day for short periods of time – minutes.
Leaving the breast pump in a designated, comfortable spot near you, set up and ready to go, is important too. If the breast pump is not a double, then start with one breast, then move to the other side when no more milk comes out of the first, and then repeat both breasts once more. This process should not take more than a few minutes. The more milk is produced and coming out, the longer the process will take.
Remember it is better to pump 8 times a day for 3 minutes than twice for 2 hours. The trick is always: often for a short amount of time.
I have to pump. When is the best time, so there is milk when my baby wants to breastfeed?
As mentioned, breasts are never empty; they always have milk. But the breast pump does extract the accumulated milk from the breast and could delay the immediate increase in milk production. So, as to not leave the baby without milk, here are some ideas about extraction:
- You can pump at any moment of the day
- During the feed: you can pump from one breast while the baby drinks from the other.
- Before a feed: don’t worry that your baby could be left without milk; you can have another milk let-down of milk with just two minutes of the baby nursing.
- At the end of a feeding: you can pump whatever milk the baby did not drink
- An hour after a feeding: some mothers prefer this option since they pump more easily this way
It hurts a lot when I use it; is that normal?
If the breast pump is causing you pain, check how it is expressing milk from your breast. Is your nipple moving in and out of the suction cup, or is your nipple pulled continuously?
Breast pumps that perform by pulling the nipple continuously are not the best, and it puts your nipples at a higher risk of nipple damage and soreness. But if your pump is performing proper suction, it is possible that you are using the wrong funnel or cup size.
How do I know which funnel size to use?
Some popular brands take into consideration that everyone has different-sized nipples. Just as when you buy shoes, and not everyone has a size 7, there are also many sizes available for breast pump funnels.
To know what size you need, measure your nipple and add 2 mm to the measurement.
Another way to find your size is to try out the funnel. When it is your right size, the nipple should fit inside, along with a small part of the areola. But your nipple should not touch the walls of the cup. If it touches or too much areola fits in the cup, it is not the right size.
I do not like the idea of using a breast pump
Many women feel uncomfortable when using a breast pump. Some mothers say that they feel like cows being milked or that they can’t stand the sound it makes. If this is your case, maybe you can try manual extraction. Manual extraction is used all over the world and allows you to pump without those unpleasant feelings.
Do you have any more questions?
If you have any more questions about breastfeeding and motherhood, we can help. Please download our free app, LactApp, for iPhone or Android. In the contact section of the app, you can find an in-app consultation channel where our experts will answer your questions.