Moms who are exclusively breastfeeding may need to pump breast milk occasionally. The reasons may vary from returning to work or going on a couple’s retreat. However, one thing remains the same: your baby needs to be fed in your absence. As a breastfeeding momma, pumping breast milk is the answer. But do you know what you should and shouldn’t do when pumping? If you responded, “No” then you’re in the right place. I’m sharing breastfeeding tips to help you know what to do when pumping breast milk.
Related: Tips for Breastfeeding Moms to Survive Returning to Work
When You Should Begin Using a Breast Pump
I first want to say that as women, our bodies are pretty dope, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. Our bodies create milk specifically for our baby’s needs. This is why it is important for breastfeeding moms to hold off on using a breast pump within the two months of nursing. It takes at least six to eight weeks for our bodies to regulate our milk supplies to what our baby’s need.
How Often Should You Pump
When you are exclusively breastfeeding you should only pump when you’re going to be away from the baby for extended periods of time. For instance, you will be returning to work, school, or running an errand for more than two hours.
If returning to work or school, pumping breastmilk is recommended to start at least one week prior to returning, only AFTER a nursing session. This should allow you to save enough for the first couple of days or so. And while you’re at work or at school, use your pump to express milk for the remaining days you will be away.
Pump every 2 to 3 hours you’re away from your baby (sticking to your natural feeding schedule works best). Shorter timeframes do not give your breasts time to build up your supply, and longer timeframes can end up leaving your breasts uncomfortably full or engorged.
How Much Milk Should You Expect to Pump
The normal pump output is between 0.5 oz. to 4 oz. per breast per session. Any more than that verges on oversupply. I know, we all envy women pumping over 20 oz per session. I was one of those women. Armed with new knowledge, I know that I had an oversupply. This time around I am doing a lot better. When you know better you do better. I want the same for you!
Note: Your breast milk output will not be a lot since your baby has more than likely removed most of the milk while nursing. While your breast is never empty, the pump can only pull so much. Pumping WHILE away will give you your supply for the following days.
Not All Pump Sessions Are Created Equally
You may pump more milk in the morning versus the afternoon or evening. That is okay! Each session will yield varying amounts. You cannot compare output between sessions or between people because YOUR body makes what it needs for YOUR baby.
Related: Breastfeeding: Tips For Maintaining your Milk Supply
Say ‘No’ to Extended Breast Pump Sessions Pump
When pumping breast milk, try not to extend the session longer than 20-minutes. Anything longer can cause breast tissue damage. This limit does not apply to latching and nursing because of the differences between breast pumps and your baby.
Storing Your Pumped Breast Milk
When you are breastfeeding directly from your breast, there’s no confusing morning, non and evening breastmilk. However, there are always questions surrounding combining pumped breastmilk. Whether it can be done? Should it be done? And how it should be done. When I breastfed my first baby, I had the same questions. You’ll be relieved to know that breast milk from different pumping sessions on the same day CAN be combined as long as they are the same temperature.
Just remember when storing breastmilk…
Proper bottle and milk storage bag sizes should always be followed. Never place more than 4 oz. of breast milk in one bag or bottle.
Breast milk can be stored
- At room temperature for 2 to 4 hours
- Refrigerator for 2 to 3 days
- Freezer 3 to 6 months,
- Deep freezer 6 to 12 months
Maintaining Your Breast Pump is Crucial to Succesful Pumping Sessions
Breast pumps work as well as they are maintained. That means checking your breast pump regularly to see if any parts should be replaced or changed. Breast pump valves, backflow protectors, and tubing should be replaced about every month and a half to two months.