Pumping Milk – A Practical Guide for New Moms

SafeSleep 4:1:18Pumping Milk – A Practical Guide for New Moms

It’s no secret that breast milk works wonders for preemies or babies in the NICU – it’s the healthiest option for full-term babies, too. But what if you are going to be away from your baby for several hours or more? If you plan on continuing to breastfeed, you’ll need to start pumping milk.

Why might I need to pump?

Your body produces breast milk on a supply-demand basis. If you aren’t feeding your baby every few hours, your body will compensate by making less milk because the demand is less. If you are going back to work, for example, but want to continue providing breast milk for your baby, you’ll have to use a breast pump to extract the milk as often as your baby normally eats. Pumping can help you produce more milk by stimulating a “let down” as frequently as you need, and you can pump any excess milk that your baby doesn’t drink to avoid engorged breasts. It’s convenient, too – if you have breast milk on hand, your partner or other family members can feed the baby and give you some time away!

Breast milk is an especially valuable commodity for babies in the NICU. The nutrients and health benefits breastmilk offers cannot be replicated by manufactured formula. Even though many preemies or high-risk babies can’t breastfeed initially, moms can provide breast milk to be given through a feeding tube or bottle until the baby is able to breastfeed.

Types of breast pumps

There are many kinds of breast pump designs, but the basic idea involves placing over the breast a plastic flange (a funnel-shaped cup) which connects to a bottle or other container that holds the milk. If you’d like to try pumping your breast milk, there are two breast pump options:

  • Manual pump – These pumps are powered by your hand and are a low-cost option for moms who only pump on occasion. They don’t, however, draw the milk out very quickly.
  • Electric pump – For women who must pump frequently, an electric pump is more effective. Electric pumps plug into an outlet or run off batteries. They are capable of collecting milk from both breasts simultaneously but can cost several hundred dollars.

A quality pump can get expensive. If you are pumping for a baby in the NICU, ask about using or renting a hospital breast pump. These are high quality pumps that are designed to be used with an accessory kit so the pump itself remains sterile with multiple users. If you want to purchase your own, avoid buying a used pump. Check with your insurance company – many insurance plans will cover the cost of a breast pump.

Stimulating milk flow without your baby

A big disadvantage to pumping milk is that it can be more difficult to make the milk let down. And no wonder! A machine is no substitution for your soft newborn baby. Here are some ideas to help:

  • Get comfortable – pumping could take 10-30 minutes.
  • Hold something that reminds you of your baby – a blanket, photograph, or stuffed animal might do the trick.
  • Pump in a quiet, soothing environment
  • Make sure your pump equipment fits properly as you shouldn’t feel any pain
  • Press a warm, clean washcloth to your nipples
  • Softly rub your nipples

Pumping milk can be a great solution for women who wish to provide their baby with nutritious breast milk but may not have the option of being home with baby full-time. While pumping milk is certainly challenging, you can pump milk for your baby if you determine to do so. You can always ask for help from a lactation consultant if you have any specific questions about breastfeeding or pumping milk.

Just as a breast pump can be an important tool for new mothers, our baby monitor helps parents keep track of baby’s sleep position and breathing movements while sleeping. Learn more about the wearable MonBaby device here!

Do you have any tips for women who are interested in pumping? Share in the comments!

Sources:

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/breastfeed-pump.html

https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/pumping-and-storing-breastmilk

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