Having and raising a baby is hard in itself but adding work and pumping takes it to a new level. Breastfeeding is extremely beneficial both for the mother and baby. If there is a need for you to be away from your baby for reasons like work and such, a breast pump is what you will need to still provide breast milk to your baby. In this article, we will help you know the basics of using a breast pump and also the benefits of having one.
What is a Breast Pump?
Breast pumps are medical devices that are helpful for nursing mothers who are separated from their infants because of work, school, or other tasks, and also for mothers who are struggling with milk supply. Pumps are used to increase the amount of milk expression by making vacuum pressure on the breasts which mimic the baby’s natural suckling pattern.
The book Medical Devices for Pharmacy stated that the blood prolactin level increases by 1.3-1.5 times with breast pump use. A mother with a sick or premature infant in the neonatal intensive care unit needs to use a breast pump for an uninterrupted milk supply.
According to Leah DeShay, CLEC from AeroFlow Breast Pumps, breast pump suction mirrors a baby’s natural sucking through several phases such as let down wherein it stimulates the nerves in your breasts like when a baby is actively sucking and then signals the release of oxytocin. This helps contract the small muscles that surround your milk-producing tissue that squeezes milk into your ducts. And then it mirrors when the baby is slowly sucking down and swallows milk.
Do you need a Breast Pump?
A breast pump is very useful to collect and supply milk for mothers who need to return to work while they are away from their babies. But you do not necessarily need a breast pump to breastfeed.
It can be beneficial in various situations. AeroFlow Breast Pumps listed some of those benefits:
- Breast pumps can relieve engorgement and prevent mastitis. Engorgement is the swelling, tightness, and an increase in the size of the breasts when too much breast milk accumulates in the milk ducts. While mastitis is an inflammation of breast tissue that sometimes involves infection.
- You can still provide breastmilk to your baby even if there are latching challenges or other complications.
- This gives your partner or other caregivers the capability to help with feedings and strengthen their bond with the baby.
- Breast pumps build and maintain an adequate supply of milk.
- It gives you time to do other things that need you to be away from the baby for a few hours without missing feeding time.
- It is very convenient. Some breast pumps weigh less than a pound and you can always put them in your bag. There are battery-powered ones that you can use if there are no other power sources available.
Types of Breast Pumps
You can choose from manual or electric breast pumps. Manual pumps make a vacuum by repetitive pushing or squeezing the device with the hands or feet. No electricity or battery is needed. They are also less costly, noisy, and portable. Electric pumps need a power source or battery to generate a vacuum and they can be personal-use or multiuser pumps.
How to Use a Breast Pump
Breast pumps are easy to assemble and use. It comes with flanges or breast shields. Which are funnel-shaped plastic parts placed over the nipple and areola to create a seal. The nipple is gently pulled into the flange tunnel to release milk.
- Before using your breast pump, sterilize it first. Read the manual carefully if it’s dishwasher safe. Be familiar with the suction settings and pumping cycles. Try on the flanges to make sure they fit but it’s not recommended to try your pump out.
- So to start, find a relaxing place that is free from distractions to allow the release of oxytocin that stimulates the let-down reflex. Make sure your arms and back are well supported while pumping. Put a warm compress on your breasts to enhance let down. Massaging your breasts before and after can also help.
- Place the breast shield on the center of your breast over the nipple and set the vacuum pressure. The pumping rate can be adjusted to mimic the baby’s sucking motion. Switch breasts every 5 minutes to ensure that each breast gets 15 minutes of total simulation. Remove the breast shield after pumping then unscrew the bottle and place a cap on it. And then make sure to clean the parts as directed in the manual.
- You can store the breast milk at room temperature for 4-6 hours or refrigerate it for up to 5 days. If your pumping sessions hurt, don’t ignore it. The sensation should be similar to comfortable breastfeeding which is some pressure and gentle tugging, according to Ashley Georgakopoulos, Motif Medical Lactation Director.
- Use the breast pump in the morning when moms tend to have more milk. By sticking with a breast pumping schedule, your body produces more milk. And lastly, remove the breast pump after 25-30 minutes, because by this period both of your breasts will become entirely empty.
Breast pumps are useful devices for nursing mothers who need to remain separated from their infants due to work-related reasons and find it difficult to maintain a timely milk supply. Breast pumps that work for some women may not work or even cause injury to other women. So it is better to find counseling about breast pumps and relevant techniques that would help mothers to express their milk.