How Breast Pumps Work

Breast Pumping Tips
Storing breast milk helps build up a supply for later. And dad can help with feeding time.
Storing breast milk helps build up a supply for later. And dad can help with feeding time.

Once you have the right pump, it will still take a while for you to learn to read your body and master the process. Following these tips might make expression go a little smoother:

  • Relax: Breast pumps are supposed to mimic a baby's natural nursing rhythm, so by thinking of your baby, and not the pump motor, your body will achieve let-down faster. It might be helpful to carry a photo of your child or a blanket that smells like him or her.
  • Pump both breasts at the same time: We've already mentioned that emptying both breasts simultaneously will cut pumping time. Double-pumping may also increase the production of prolactin [source: Mayo Clinic]. Keep pumping and drain breasts as much as possible to maintain a full milk supply.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine: What you put in your body eventually gets passed to your baby through breast milk. Your baby may become restless if he or she ingests too much caffeine. Smoking is harmful for the general health of the entire family and also can reduce milk production and change the taste of milk [source: Mayo Clinic].
  • Prevent chafing: If you're in pain and can't relax, let-down will be that much harder to achieve. Try rubbing lanolin cream or vegetable oil inside the breastshield to lubricate the process [source: Corley]. A properly fitting breastshield will also reduce chafing and minimize friction. Manufacturers offer different sizes and inserts to suit every user.

Breast-pump manufacturers like Medela and Ameda feature helpful hints on their Web sites about their products and the best ways to use them. Another helpful resource for moms is La Leche League, an international organization that educates and informs mothers, legislative members and the community about breastfeeding. If you prefer to talk with someone one on one, contact your local hospital and find out if they employ lactation consultants. These staff members can answer any questions you may have in regards to breastfeeding and pumping, and can show you the best ways of keeping your baby happy and healthy.

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