Breast Pump Do’s and Don’ts

In 2014, the CDC estimated that 83 percent of new mothers choose to breastfeed their newborns. Breastfeeding is very beneficial for both mom and baby, but it can become inconvenient once you head back to work or want to have a much-needed date night. Purchasing a quality breast pump is the best option to provide your baby with the nutrients they need when you aren’t able to breastfeed.

If you’ve never purchased or operated a breast pump, or stored breast milk, here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

DO Purchase the Ideal Breast Pump for Your Needs

There are several different types of breast pumps on the market. Here are some of the most popular breast pumps available, and information that will help you decide which option is best for your needs and budget:

  • Manual. A hand-operated pump is an inexpensive option that is perfect if you stay home with your baby. However, if you’re going back to work or don’t have a lot of time to pump, it’s not the best option.
  • Battery operated. Battery-operated pumps come at several price points. These are often the best option for a mom who will only be away from baby for a few hours a day because a battery pump takes more time to pump an adequate supply of milk.
  • Electric. An electric pump is typically a more expensive option, but they have several benefits. For example, if you’re returning to work, don’t have a lot of time to pump, and want to get the most out of one sitting, an electric pump is a great choice.

For mothers who are having trouble with their supply or whose babies cannot latch correctly, a medical-grade breast pump is a great option. These pumps are the most expensive option available, but if you are having issues with breastfeeding, ask your doctor if this is the right choice for your needs and budget.

DO Learn When and How Often to Pump

When and how often you pump is dependent upon several factors. For example, if your baby is premature or if you are having trouble producing, begin pumping as soon as possible after giving birth. This will help you stockpile your milk supply and will help you increase your milk production.

It is recommended that you wait around 45 minutes to one hour after their last feeding before you begin pumping. This will allow your body to replenish its milk supply.

After you return to work, try to pump according to your baby’s regular feeding schedule to ensure your milk supply doesn’t lessen. Don’t hesitate to let your boss or supervisor know that you will be pumping often throughout the day. Many companies will accommodate nursing mothers, allowing a private room to be used.

If this is your first baby, it may take a few days or weeks before you can build up an adequate supply. If you’re concerned your baby isn’t getting enough milk or you are having trouble operating your pump, don’t hesitate to contact your physician or a lactation consultant.

DON’T Store Your Breast Milk Improperly

Collecting and storing your breast milk correctly is critical because it will help prevent contamination. Here are a few tips to help you properly store your breast milk:

  • Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before pumping.
  • Store your milk inside the containers provided with the pump, a hard plastic or metal container with a tight-fitting lid, or a bag that is specifically designed for storing breast milk.
  • You may allow breastmilk to sit at room temperature for 4-6 hours at 66-78F.
  • You can store breastmilk in a cooler with frozen ice packs for 24 hours at 59F.
  • Store your breast milk in the refrigerator for up to three to 8 days at 39 F or lower.
  • Store your breast milk in the freezer for six to twelve months at 0-4F.

Also, thaw breast milk in the refrigerator only. The thawed milk can remain in the refrigerator for no longer than 18 to 24 hours. And remember, do not refreeze thawed breast milk.

Don’t Forget to Clean Your Breast Pump

Cleaning your breast pump regularly is critical to prevent spreading bacteria. To begin, remove the tubing from the pump. Remove the breast shields and the valves. If the pump is electric or battery-operated, set the box that holds the batteries or any other electrical components aside. Rinse the tubing, valves, and breast shields with lukewarm water before washing them with hot soapy water.

Rinse off the soapy water and allow the components to air-dry completely before reassembling the pump. Depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, you might be instructed to sanitize parts of the pump in boiling water periodically. Follow these directions as needed.

If you’re purchasing your first breast pump, you might be overwhelmed with the options and unsure of how to use and care for the unit. If you are ready to start shopping, begin your search with Corner Home Medical.

  • Important information from You may be able to get help with breastfeeding at no cost. Health insurance plans must provide breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding. These services may be provided before and after birth. Your health insurance plan must cover the cost of a breast pump for free or with a co-pay. Your plan may have guidelines on whether the covered pump is manual or electric, a standard pump or upgraded one, and when you’ll receive it (before or after birth). Talk with your doctor and your insurance provider for more information.