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Breast Pumps: Pumping Mama Tips

     Many of you are "pumping mamas" that is to say you pump when you are away from your baby for work or you exclusively pump and give breast milk in a bottle.  If so, there is some planning involved to maintain your breast pump and milk supply.  Here are some valuable tips to keep the milk flowing: 
     1.  Use a quality double electric breast pump.
The Hygeia EnJoye Breast Pump , the Spectra S2 or Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump are professional double breast pumps that offer a closed system with the proper suction and speed settings to maintain your milk supply.
     2.   Make sure your breast flanges are the right size.
The easiest way to get started finding the right fit is to look down at your nipple and your fingers at the same time.  If your nipple shaft (not including the areola) is the size of your ring finger, start with the standard size flange which is usually 24-27 mm depending on the brand of pump.  If it is smaller like your pinky finger, use an insert like the Flexishield in the standard flange.  If you nipple is wider like your thumb, go up to a custom-sized flange.
     3.   Pump every 3 hours that you are away from your baby.
If you miss or delay a pumping, make sure to put the next ones closer together so that you don't end up skipping a session.
     4.  Double pump for a full 10-15 minutes. 
Double pumping increases prolactin levels for a healthier milk supply than does single pumping.  You need to pump longer than the milk is flowing so if milk stops, don't stop your pumping session until you have pumped for 15 minutes.  Breast pumps like the Ameda Platinum are available for rental and offer a timer to ensure you are pumping for the optimal time period.  You can also use your phone timer to help you stick to the plan.
     5.  If you miss a pumping session, make it up!
If there was an emergency and you had to miss a pumping, make it up with two more pump sessions at home.  One after your baby's evening nursing and one right before you go to bed.
     6.  Maintain your breast pump by replacing valves once a month.
White duckbill valves like the ones used with Ameda and Hygeia pumps should be replaced frequently to maintain optimum suction.  Examine the end for tears or warping if you find suction to be lessening.  
     7.  If your pump has a filter or diaphragm, replace once every 2 months.
Hygeia filters should be replaced every 2 months and Ameda diaphragms every 2-4 depending on how they are cleaned.  Diaphragms should not be sterilized.  Use soap and water only on this Ameda part.
     8.  Simulate growth spurts by pumping every 2 hours.
Babies typically go through growth spurts at 3 weeks, 6  weeks, 3 months and 6 months.
Add three pumping sessions per day for five days in a row to effectively simulate growth spurts.  If you were a stay-at-home mom, your baby would be nursing more frequently so you need to do the same with your pump.  Note that the first growth spurt can show up as early as 10 days of age.
    9.  Use freshly expressed milk whenever possible.
Use the milk you pumped the day before for the next day instead of freezing it.  Fresh milk has the most antibodies.  Frozen milk is second best, but still far superior to any infant formula.  A rule of thumb to use the most fresh milk is to freeze Friday's milk, but use the fresh milk Monday through Thursday.  Your frozen stockpile can be used for low milk supply times like when your period returns, emergencies, and for mixing with solids after your baby is sitting alone and developmentally ready for them.  If you need help organizing your milk in the fridge, Breastmilk Bandit is a great labeling solution.
     10.  Your baby is the best motivation.
Sight, smell and sound can help trigger the milk ejection reflex aka let-down.  Look at a picture of your baby.  Drape a nursing scarf or receiving blanket around your neck that smells like your little nursling.  Play back a recording of your baby's coos or cries.  After all, you are doing this for your baby! 

Best wishes for a healthy milk supply and a happy baby!


  1. Some fabulous tips. It can be hard to keep up the motivation with breast pumping somethings, but it is so worth it. I think a quality, double pump is the most important part.


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