1. When do I need to start pumping my breastmilk?
If you are exclusively breastfeeding, take that first month to feel confident with breastfeeding. You can then begin pumping and offering bottles to your baby when he/she is about 4-6 weeks old. If you wait too long to introduce a bottle, your breastfed baby may refuse to take a bottle! (I learned this the hard way with my first daughter!). You can also begin using a silicone pump (like a Haakaa) in the first month and beyond to start saving a little extra milk.
2. Why do I need to pump my breastmilk?
You don’t need to pump unless it fits into your goals/lifestyle. However, there are many reasons a mom may choose/need to pump, including: having a baby that isn’t currently breastfeeding, the ability to allow another person to feed baby a bottle, when mom is away from baby, to increase milk supply, to store breastmilk, to donate breastmilk, to relieve engorged breasts, to help pull out the nipples before a nursing session, “pumping and dumping”…..the list goes on and you may find your own unique reasons.
3. How long should I pump for?
Between 10-25 minutes is usually sufficient for most moms to empty their breasts. If you are pumping to increase your supply, then you should pump for 2 minutes after you see the last few drops of milk.
4. Do I need to have a “stash” of breastmilk in my freezer?
This is up to you! Some moms feel more comfortable having plenty of milk stored in the freezer, as this gives them more freedom to come and go as they please or to return to work knowing they have plenty of milk stored for baby. Other moms may not have a large stash of milk and choose to pump only when they know they are going to be away from baby. And some moms fall somewhere in between! Regardless of what your preference is, remember that there is no right or wrong answer so do what works best for you!
5. What’s the best way to store my milk?
I prefer breastmilk storage bags that can store 5oz of milk or more as they lay nice and flat in the freezer (lay the bag on a flat surface, like a box, when freezing). Once they are frozen flat, you can then “file” them in a Tupperware style container in the freezer with the oldest date in front. I also recommend having a variety of ounces stored. For example, freeze some with 2 oz, 3 oz, 4 oz, etc., so you can then pick the right amount to thaw without wasting any milk.
6. I don’t produce much milk when I pump, is my supply low?
Not necessarily! Many moms find that their babies are much more efficient at removing milk from the breast than their breast pump. Even if it looks like you’re not pumping much, remember….if baby is gaining weight and having 8-10 dirty diapers/day, you’re making enough milk!
7. Can pumping help to increase my milk supply?
Yes! Breastfeeding is a supply and demand process, which means when milk is removed from the breast it signals your body to produce milk. If you wish to increase your milk supply, continue to nurse your baby on demand and add in 1-2 pumping sessions daily (ideally at the same time each day) and you should notice an increase in milk production in about 3-7 days.
MORE MILK REMOVED -> INCREASES MILK PRODUCTIONLESS MILK REMOVED –> SLOWS DOWN MILK PRODUCTION
8. When my baby starts sleeping through the night, do I need to wake up and pump?
Maybe! In a perfect breastfeeding world, your body will get the signal to slow down milk production during the nighttime hours to allow you to get some much needed rest. However, some moms find that long periods of sleep without removing milk from their breasts can decrease their milk supply. Once baby starts sleeping through the night, keep a close eye on your milk supply. If you’re noticing that your supply is decreasing significantly, you may want to wake up and pump in the middle of the night to boost your supply.
9. How often should I pump when I’m away from baby?
As a general guideline, you should pump once for every missed feeding. If you miss 3 feedings during the day, you should pump 3 times, etc.
10. Other than a pump, what other pumping supplies do I need?
There are so many great pumping supplies available! Comfort flanges, silicone flanges, hands-free pumping bras, nursing/pumping bras, pumping storage bags, breastmilk storage systems, battery options, car chargers, special soaps for washing pump parts, storage totes, cooler systems for breastmilk…..there’s something for every pumping need!