Breast Pump 101
Updated: Jun 11
Welcome to Breast Pump 101!
Let's jump in...
Start by calling your insurance company because under the Affordable Care Act your breast pump is likely covered. Ask how and when you can go about obtaining one - do you need a MD prescription, can you purchase through an online or preferred supplier, durable medical equipment company (DME) or purchase then submit receipt? You want to check the pump offerings with each supplier because they will not all be the same. Don't forget to ask your insurance about lactation support coverage! Read this.
Truth - You need to know these resources anyways because they are a critical support system for you! They will also help you decide on the best pump for you. There are many pump options. All pumps are not equal and your needs are unique to you.
Receive pump - OPEN pump! Really look at all the parts, read instructions and learn how to put it together. Yes, its a lot of pieces and you'll wonder why its so complicated but you will get the hang of it! A lil humor goes a long way with pumping ;).
Truth - You don't want to be learning how to use your breast pump when an issue arises. Having a general idea of how to put it together and how it works will only help and ease the overwhelm (enter deer in headlights look). Remember those resources above? Now you know where to get help!
How does it work? Breast pumps initially start out in stimulation mode (fast, light pattern) before switching to expression (slower, deeper pattern) milk removal mode. Why? Because baby goes to breast stimulating with fast, light suckles until oxytocin releases the bolus of milk through a let down which longer more longer, deeper sucks manage.
Truth - If you are within the first 3 days of birth, hand expressing will provide more milk output along with pumping. It's always a good idea to be doing some hand expressing and/or hands on pumping to maximize milk production and output.
Milk making 101 - breastfeeding is a hormonal response, hormones drop at birth allowing your lactation hormones to spike, this along with frequent (minimum of 8x a day) breast stimulation and milk removal tells the body to keep making milk. Recall your breast changes early in pregnancy? Thats when you began producing colostrum (the first milk). Yes, you come pre-filled and ready to feed baby! Milk volume increase or "coming in" (but remember you've had colostrum since early pregnancy) occurs on average day 3-5. Watch this free breastfeeding class!
The breast pump is a fake baby that you have zero attachment to until you train your body to work with it. The less you think of yourself attached to this piece of plastic and the more you think, look, sit next to, flip through pictures, listen and smell all things adorable baby and RELAX the more oxytocin and milk flows. It takes a little time but create a routine so your body catches on and starts responding to the pump. Average pump time is 15-20 minutes. Read this on REPITITION (by Elisabeth Sherratt FNP,CLEC @the_lactation_np)
You should never be in pain while pumping and your breasts are glands so be gentle with them! Harder, faster, stronger, painful does not apply here.
What if you're in pain? Turn down your vacuum/cycle and read this on flange fit.
I bet your wondering about...
Breastmilk storage (always time and date, leave a designated permanent marker nearby)
Cleaning breast pump parts https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/healthychildcare/infantfeeding/breastpump.html
Have more questions? How can I help? I offer Virtual Consults to anyone in the USA here