Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pumping! Part I

It is estimated that as many as 85% of women use a breast pump at some point during their breastfeeding journey.

This is not because it is necessary, but it has become the cultural norm in our society.

I can say with absolute certainty that for most moms, it is definitely possible to breastfeed a baby without pumping.

However, most women want the flexibility to be able to leave their baby with someone else at some point.

I can also say with certainty that some women would not have breastfed if they didn’t have this option.

Common Questions About Pumping

  •             When should I start pumping?
  •             What kind of pump should I get?
  •             When is the best time to pump?
  •             How much should I get when I pump?
  •             Can I use a borrowed pump?

We will look at each of these questions.

Confused woman

The first question will take the longest to answer, so this post will be devoted to that. I will answer the other questions in a follow-up post.

When Should I Start Pumping?

The short answer is, pump when you need to.

Really, the question should be, Why should I pump? That is the question I am going to answer in this post.

Reasons for Pumping

1. If your baby is born and won’t, or can’t breastfeed.

  • Most babies will start breastfeeding if they are placed skin-to-skin right after birth, and left there for an hour or two.
  • For a whole variety of reasons, some babies won’t.
  • Depending on where you give birth, you may be able to keep your baby there until he does breastfeed.
  • If you have to be separated, make sure you get your baby back skin-to-skin as soon as you can.
  • Around 12-24 hours after birth you should start pumping if your baby hasn’t breastfed. The stimulation will help your milk come in.
  • If your baby is too premature or too sick to breastfeed you should start pumping by 3-6 hours. This is the recommendation by Baby-Friendly USA. You will need to continue pumping regularly, approximately every 3 hours until your baby is well enough to stimulate your milk supply.

Mother holding newborn baby

2. If you need or choose to supplement your baby in the first 4-6 weeks of breastfeeding

  • If your baby is getting something other than your breastmilk that is stimulation that you are not getting.
  • If your baby is being supplemented with formula it will take longer for her to want to breastfeed again.
  • Supplementing with formula and not pumping is how moms slide down that slippery slope, and end up formula feeding because they end up having an inadequate supply. They just don’t get enough stimulation.

Newborn baby bottlefeeding

3. If you have an insufficient milk supply, pumping can help you make more milk.

4. If you have enough milk, but your baby can’t get enough out for proper growth.

  • This can happen for a variety of reasons.
  • If you’ve got a good milk supply and your baby needs to be supplemented, pump it and give it to your baby in the most appropriate way.
  • Methods of supplementation will be covered in another post.

5. If your breasts get engorged and your baby can’t latch on, sometimes pumping can help soften them.

  • This will only work if it is milk making your breast firm.
  • If it is swelling, which is often the case when the milk first comes in, pumping is not going to help
  • In that case, a technique called Reverse Pressure Softening will be more effective
  • If you are engorged and your baby doesn’t take enough milk from your breasts to soften your breasts. Severe engorgement that is unrelieved can destroy the milk-producing cells. So, if your baby doesn’t need as much as you are producing and it’s uncomfortable for you, you should pump until you are more comfortable.

6. If you miss a feeding in the first 4-6 weeks.

You are establishing your milk supply during this time.  Missing a feeding can affect your milk supply.

After 4-6 weeks missing a feeding may be uncomfortable but your breasts will usually adjust the supply according to stimulation and emptying.

7. You will need to pump if you want someone to give your baby a bottle regularly, but don’t want to miss feedings, you will need to pump at those times. That plan you had of your partner giving a bottle in the middle of the night so you can sleep through a feeding? That’s not going to work, especially in the early weeks. This is not to say you can never miss a feeding, but it’s just not a good idea in the early weeks.

8. If you want to build a stash of milk in your freezer. 

It’s important to have a freezer stash if you are going back to work or school and for emergencies

9. If you are going to be separated from your baby regularly your baby to get your milk. . Pumping is also important during regular separations to keep up your milk supply

10. Women who have a sensitive milk supply may need to pump in the middle of the night when their baby starts sleeping long stretches.

11. If you have to take a medication that is incompatible with breastfeeding and you are told to pump and discard the milk (this is called “pump and dump.”)

Many moms are told to pump and dump when it is not actually necessary. I always recommend getting the second opinion of a Lactation Consultant (LC) regarding pumping and dumping.

Go ahead and pump, just don’t discard any milk until you’ve talked to an LC.

When Should You Pump

I just gave you all of the different reasons WHY you should pump. 

Why you are pumping will affect WHEN you should pump.

Photo credit: found_drama via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: found_drama via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. If you are pumping for the first bottle then pump right after a feeding. 
  2. Pick the time when your milk supply is most abundant. For most moms that is in the morning hours. You just want to take the leftovers and not cut into their next meal. You also don’t need a lot of milk because the first bottle you offer, you just want to see what your baby thinks about it. He may love it, he may hate it. I’ll talk more about this when I talk about introducing a bottle in another post.
  3. If your goal is to build a stash in the freezer, for emergencies or just flexibility, pump in the morning, right after a feeding, until you have the amount you want in the freezer. The amount you will get will vary from mom to mom. Never compare yourself to other moms.
  4. If you are trying to get a stash in the freezer for going back to work or school, you may need to pump after a feeding more than once a day. That will depend on how much you get and how far in advance you start working on it. I recommend that moms start at about 6-8 weeks, just to see how much they are going to get, and this can help them determine how often they will need to pump each day, and how long it will take them to build that stash.
  5. If you have a sensitive milk supply, and your baby is sleeping long stretches, you will need to figure out how long you can go before you need to pump. This will involve some trial and error. If you think your milk supply is going down, try pumping a couple of hours after your baby goes to sleep. If that doesn’t help enough, if your baby sleeps past 7 am try waking at 5 am to pump. This can be one of those times when you have to choose between getting as much sleep as you’d like and maintaining your milk supply. The good news is that most moms won’t need to do this.

 

One last thought

Pumping can be easy to figure for most moms, but if it’s complicated for you, talk to a lactation consultant. She will help you figure out what your needs are, and what is appropriate for you. If breastfeeding is going well, give yourself at least the first 2-3 weeks to just work out a rhythm with your baby.

Next Time

Everything else you wanted to know about pumping!

Please share this post by clicking on the icons below. If you want to be notified of the next post, click the subscribe button on the sidebar. Thanks for reading!

 

 

When to Pump

You can see, there are a lot of different reason WHY to pump, and the reason will affect the WHEN to start pumping. Some of

Photo credit: found_drama via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: found_drama via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-Sthese I have addressed in the WHY. Here are a couple of answers in terms of WHEN if the answer is not clear in the above list.

  1. If you are pumping to stimulate your supply then you will want to pump within 15-20 minutes of the end of a breastfeeding. You want to tell your body to make more milk. If you wait longer, say an hour, you will probably get more milk in the bottles, but you are also cutting into your baby’s next meal.
  2. If you are wanting to get enough milk for the first bottle you offer, pump right after a feeding, when your milk supply is most abundant. For most moms that is in the morning hours. You just want to take the leftovers and not cut into their next meal. You also don’t need a lot of milk because the first bottle you offer, you just want to see what your baby thinks about it. He may love it, he may hate it. I’ll talk more about this when I talk about introducing a bottle in another post.
  3. If your goal is to build a stash in the freezer, for emergencies or just flexibility, pump in the morning, right after a feeding, until you have the amount you want in the freezer. The amount you will get will vary from mom to mom. Never compare yourself to other moms.
  4. If you are trying to get a stash in the freezer for going back to work or school, you may need to pump after a feeding more than once a day. That will depend on how much you get and how far in advance you start working on it. I recommend that moms start at about 6-8 weeks, just to see how much they are going to get, and this can help them determine how often they will need to pump each day, and how long it will take them to build that stash.
  5. If you have a sensitive milk supply, and your baby is sleeping long stretches, you will need to figure out how long you can go before you need to pump. This will involve some trial and error. If you think your milk supply is going down, try pumping a couple of hours after your baby goes to sleep. If that doesn’t help enough, if your baby sleeps past 7 am try waking at 5 am to pump. This can be one of those times when you have to choose between getting as much sleep as you’d like and maintaining your milk supply. The good news is that most moms won’t need to do this.

 

One last thought

Pumping can be easy to figure for most moms, but if it’s complicated for you, talk to a lactation consultant. She will help you figure out what your needs are, and what is appropriate for you. If breastfeeding is going well, give yourself at least the first 2-3 weeks to just work out a rhythm with your baby.

Next Time

Everything else you wanted to know about pumping!

Please share this post by clicking on the icons below. If you want to be notified of the next post, click the subscribe button on the sidebar. Thanks for reading!