Everything You Need to Know Before You Start Pumping!
If you are planning on giving your baby breast milk at all, you should prepare to pump, too. Even if you intend to breastfeed exclusively, being prepared to use a breast pump and store breast milk will equip you with everything you could need, in the case of a breast milk emergency!
If you are interested in learning more about all things “breast pumping”, we are glad that you are here! In this article, we will educate you on everything you need to know before you start pumping!
What does it mean to “pump”?
If you have never used a breast pump before, the idea of it might feel a little bit daunting. The concept of it would certainly sound foreign to someone without experience! With that being said, pumping is very natural and is a lot less intense than it sounds.
Since the beginning of time, women have breastfed. Most people are familiar with that concept. Milk is expressed from the breast when a baby drinks and it comes out of the nipple. Milk can also be expressed when a woman uses her hand to massage the breast and nipple so that milk comes out.
"Pumping" is simply using a machine to speed up the process of hand expression. When you use a pump, you connect a “flange” to the breast and extract milk from the breast using a manual or electric machine.
Why do women pump?
Women choose to pump for many reasons, including the following:
1. So that their baby can reap the benefits of breastmilk!
There are times when it is extremely difficult for a baby to latch on to its mother’s breast to nurse. There are other times when a mother wants her baby to reap the nutritional benefits of breast milk but doesn’t feel comfortable breastfeeding directly.
Whatever the reason, there is an answer! Pumping milk allows you to nourish your baby through bottle-feeding, spoon-feeding, or syringe-feeding (shoutout to the parents of tiny premature babies!).
Some of the incredible, worthwhile benefits of breastmilk include: strengthened immunity, easily absorbed nutritional components, antioxidants, enzymes, decreased risk of SIDS, it is easily digestible, and it is free!
2. To relieve engorgement pain!
In the early days of breastfeeding, the body’s milk production system is not regulated yet. This can result in an overproduction of milk, which leads to engorgement of the breast. Engorgement is when the breast is so full of milk that it is uncomfortable, achy, and even painful.
The only way to relieve engorgement completely is by emptying the breast. This is, of course, where pumping comes in!
3. So that someone else can feed the baby!
While breastfeeding is a beautiful way to create a strong bond between mother and child, it can be exhausting. When the mother is the only person who can feed the baby (at all hours of the day and night), she will quickly feel drained, or even burnt out.
Pumping milk creates an opportunity for someone else (partner, loved one, friend, etc.) to feed the baby. This is a great way to help an exhausted mom to find time to practice self-care!
4. To store in case of emergency!
Even if you decide that you would prefer to primarily breastfeed, it is still a good idea to keep a stash of breastmilk in your freezer for emergencies. In the case of an emergency, your baby will be comforted by the familiar taste and texture of their mom’s milk!
5. To use for other purposes!
Did you know that breast milk serves many purposes? Breastmilk is a natural remedy for many ailments, including ear infections, acne, teething pain, cradle cap, diaper rash, eczema, and a sore throat.
What do I need to pump?
To have a successful pumping journey, it is crucial to be prepared with all of the proper equipment that you will need to be efficient and comfortable.
Here are our pumping must-haves:
📌A Breast Pump
There are so many breast pumps available on the market that the thought of deciding which one to get can be daunting! Here are the most important things to consider when choosing a pump:
- Cost. Breast pumps can range from $20, up to $500+. Determine your budget, and stick with it. There are great options available at every price point!
- Portability. Are you looking for a pump that you can bring with you everywhere you go? Do you need something wireless? Are you content with a pump that needs to be plugged into a wall outlet?
- Pump type. There are two types of pumps available: manual and electric. If you are planning on only pumping occasionally, a manual pump will do the trick. However, if you plan on pumping an extensive amount or even exclusively, opting for an electric pump will keep things efficient and convenient.
For a deep-dive into what breast pump is right for you, check out this article: BEST BREAST PUMPS OF 2022
📌A Pumping Bra
Have you heard of a pumping bra before? Typically, pumping takes both hands and all of your attention to accomplish. When you invest in a pumping bra, you free up your hands so that you can multitask and use your time to its full capacity!
Our favorite pumping bra? The Hands-Free Lace Pumping Bra from Momanda. Featuring a sexy lace design, this bra will keep you feeling confident, productive, and supported!
📌Milk Storage Containers
If you decide to store your milk, it is important to do so in non-toxic, high-quality containers. You can choose between bags or bottles.
In consideration of this, it is also important to determine where you will store your milk. If you are storing it for a short time (up to 4 days), it can be stored in the fridge. If you are looking to store it long-term (6-12 months), you need to ensure that you have space in your freezer.
Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of storing your breastmilk? Organization is key! Always be sure to label your breastmilk with the date it was pumped, stored, frozen, and when it expires. By keeping it organized in your fridge or freezer, you can be sure that none of your liquid gold will go to waste!
Things You NEED to Know About Pumping
Now that you have a good grasp on the “how-tos” of pumping, we've got a few more tips for you to keep in mind. As you continue in your pumping journey, you will surely pick up your own hacks along the way, but for now, here are some of our favorites!
- Breast milk production is supply and demand. That means that the more milk your body requires, the more milk your body will produce. With that being said, if you are pumping to relieve engorgement, it is important not to overdo it, as this will only result in a continued excess of milk! For more information on breast milk production, check out this article: HOW TO INCREASE BREAST MILK PRODUCTION
- The amount that you pump does NOT equate to the amount of milk that you produce. This may sound confusing, but it's true! If you find yourself feeling concerned that your baby is not eating enough because you are pumping significantly less than you expected, do not be alarmed!
The amount of milk that your body produces as your baby suckles directly from the breast cannot be measured, as it will only be produced when your baby nurses directly. There is no need to fear that your baby is not being fed enough unless your baby stops gaining or is losing weight.
- If you experience pain while pumping, something needs to be adjusted. As moms, we sacrifice a lot to grow, birth, and feed our children. We normalize a lot of struggle and pain throughout that time, but some things are truly not meant to be painful! If you are experiencing pain while pumping, lower the suction levels and intensity on your pump to the lowest degree. If you continue to struggle with your pump, connect with a lactation consultant or nurse who may be able to support you personally.
Pumping is a fantastic way to provide your baby with the phenomenal gift of breastmilk, even if you cannot/choose not to breastfeed directly. By preparing yourself with all of the equipment you may need and educating yourself as much as possible, you will quickly learn how great pumping can be!
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