- breastfeeding mother pumping with Medela Symphony breastpump
You can express your milk by hand expression or with a breastpump. To determine which type of breastpump is best for you and your needs speak with your lactation specialist.
Expressing breastmilk is a learned skill so give yourself enough time and patience to master that skill. Do not feel disappointed if you will gain only little or no milk when you use the breastpump for the first time. Consider your first pumping sessions as practice sessions.
- Before using a breastpump for the first time, read and follow the instruction for use.
- Whether you hand express or use a breastpump, wash your hands before you start expressing your milk.
- Find a comfortable place to express your milk.
- Select a breastshield (the part of the pump that is shaped like a funnel) that fits your breast. The breastshield should closely surround your nipple but leave enough space so that your nipple is not rubbing against the wall of the shield and can move freely back and forth. Your nipple should be at the centre of the breastshield.
- If your nipples are very large you might need a bigger breastshield. Medela offers breastshields in different sizes.
- Moisten the breastshield of the breastpump to get a better seal.
- Pump at Maximum Comfort Vacuum (see below*)
- The key for successful milk expression is stimulating your let-down-reflex. Discomfort or pain will hamper your let-down.
- Massage your breasts before and occasionally during pumping to encourage your let-down and milk flow.
- Double pumping does cut your pumping time in half (to 10-15 minutes or less), and your prolactin levels are higher when you use a double pump, so you may produce more milk in less time. When you pump one breast at the time, switch from on side to the other several times.
- Milk expression should never be painful. If you feel some pain immediately interrupt the pump session and ask your lactation specialist for advice. Do not risk damaging your sensitive breast tissue by incorrect use of a breastpump!
Maximum Comfort Vacuum
Maximum Comfort Vacuum is the highest vacuum a mother can tolerate and still be comfortable.
How can Maximum Comfort Vacuum be achieved?
A mother can determine their own Maximum Comfort Vacuum by increasing the vacuum until pumping feels slightly uncomfortable (not painful), then decreasing slightly. This final vacuum is the mother's Maximum Comfort Vacuum.