Breastmilk is not sterile and its anti-infective properties hinder the growth of bacteria.
Still, you do not want to introduce "outside" bacteria unnecessarily when getting
ready to pump, during the actual pumping session, or when storing milk or transporting
milk. To reduce the risk of infection, consider the following:
Read the instruction manual first, but you may have to experiment with different techniques
and settings on the breast pump before you find ones that work best for you. Here
are some general tips for using a breast pump:
Make sure the breast flange is properly fitted. The flange is the funnel-shaped part
that centers over your areola, which is the pigmented ring around your nipple. If
you have a question about the fit, ask your healthcare provider or lactation consultant.
Massage your breasts before you pump, as this results in faster let-down and milk
with more fat. Massaging your breasts towards the end of the pumping session will
ensure that you fully drain your breast of milk and may help you to make more milk,
if you need to.
Some mothers moisten the rim of the breast flange before pumping to create a better
seal on the breast.
Try different techniques for obtaining a seal on the breast. Some mothers prefer to
center the breast flanges on the nipple and areola first and then turn the pump on;
others turn the pump on first and then place the flanges over the breasts.
Start the pump at the low or minimal suction setting and gradually move the setting
to increase the level of suction. The level should be set as high as comfort allows.
Decrease the suction if it causes discomfort.
Suction cannot be maintained if the seal of the flange on the breast is broken. If
you do not see a rhythmic pull and release of the nipple or areola within the flange,
check the seal. Sometimes the tube can disconnect from the flange and needs to be
reattached. Sometimes a portion of your clothing is under the edge of the flange and
needs to be removed.
Expect to pump for a few minutes before you see a steady flow of milk. Most pumping
sessions will last 10 to 20 minutes, but you can pump as long as the milk is flowing
and is comfortable for you. Some women will experience a "second let-down." After
the milk has stopped flowing, if they continue to pump, it will flow again.
Do not fill collection bottles more than two-thirds full to avoid any back flow or
spilling of milk and to allow for expansion if milk is to be frozen. If you easily
fill bottles, have additional collection bottles ready. Stop and change bottles as
needed. You also might use bottles that hold more.
When you are ready to stop pumping, slide a clean finger under the rim of the flange.
This should break the seal between the flange and the breast tissue. If milk has pooled
in a flange, tilt forward so that milk can drain into the collection bottle as you
remove the flange.
Keep in mind that women are able to pump very different amounts of milk. Working with
your healthcare provider and/or lactation consultant will help you to determine how
much milk you may be able to pump. Even a small amount of breastmilk is very good
for you and your baby.
Be sure to properly store your pumped milk and appropriately clean your pump parts