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You may have a long list of pumping, breast milk and milk supply questions you need answered. If that’s the case, you are definitely in the right place mama!
This article has explanations for how long you need to pump, pumping at work, letdowns, breast milk guidelines and literally so much more!
Ready to learn mama?
This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosures here.
How Long do I Need to Pump For?
As a new pumping mama, you may be wondering how long you should be pumping for at each session. Unfortunately, this pumping question isn’t as straight forward to determine, but let me give you some guidelines to go by.
If your goal is to fully empty your breasts, set a pumping time that ensures the most breast milk possible was removed during that session and shoot for multiple letdowns.
On average, most women take 20-40 minutes to feel like they have sufficiently evacuated all breast milk. However, not pumping frequently enough is definitely a pumping mistake you want to avoid, especially in the beginning.
Establishing your milk supply early on with a solid breastfeeding and pumping schedule is crucial.
How do I Make Sure to Fully Empty my Breasts?
I see this question circulate alot and it is a good one! Many women wonder how they will make sure that they have fully emptied all breast milk during a pumping session.
You will want to use lactation tools like these Warming Lactation Massage Pads, which will help loosen and warm up stubborn milk ducts to help with milk production and removal. PSSST… Use code LOVEOURLITTLES10 to save 10% on your total Lavie purchase.
What is A Let-down?
Since you have seen this term mentioned quite a few times in the last couple sections, it’s only fair that you learn exactly what a let-down is and how to trigger one.
A let-down is the release of breast milk from the breasts when nerves in your breasts and nipples are stimulated.❶
These nerves are usually stimulated by a suckling baby, (or a breast pump) and this signals the release of Oxytocin.
Oxytocin is a hormone responsible for prompting the tiny muscles around your milk-making cells to contract, which squeezes beast milk into the milk ducts.
Pumpables makes these Liquid Shield Kits for pumping moms which mimic a baby’s natural suckling motion. Many women claim that these kits help them more easily have a letdown while pumping. If you would like to try them, shop the link for 10% off your entire order!
When can I Drop a Pumping Session?
It won’t be long into your pumping journey that you will start asking yourself, when and how do I start weaning from the pump?
The first pumping session you can drop will be around 4 months, when your little one starts to sleep through the night. This means, you can go from 8+ pumps per day to only 6 or 7!
You may also wonder how to manage pumping at night and care for your little one at the same time. The skill of learning how to multitask while pumping is gained through lots of trial and error and some adept education in the form of an online exclusive pumping class.
How Long is Freshly Expressed Breast Milk Good for?
Treat breast milk like you would cows milk, if stored in the fridge, it can last up to 5 days.
Always perform a sniff test before feeding to baby. If there are any offensive odors, taste it first before tossing. Sometimes an odd smell can be from high lipase (we’ll address that next).
Once baby has drank from a bottle of breast milk, but does not finish the breast milk, you may re-cool and re-heat the milk ONE MORE TIME and it is recommended to use leftover milk within two hours.❷
Frozen milk, once thawed, must be used within 24 hours of thaw. If my baby doesn’t finish a bottle of thawed breast milk, I typically will not re-cool and re-heat.
- Freshly expressed or pumped | Room temp. 4-6 hours | Fridge 4-5 days | Freezer 6-12 months
- Thawed, previously frozen | Room temp. 1-2 hours | Fridge 24 hours | Never refreeze thawed breast milk.
- Left over from a feeding | Within two hours after the baby is finished feeding.
Another good read you may find helpful is this post about combination feeding and how to combine breastfeeding and formula feeding.
What is High Lipase in Breast Milk?
High lipase happens to breast milk once freshly expressed milk is frozen. It is an enzyme that helps baby digest breast milk easier by breaking down the fats.
High lipase gives breast milk a sour or metallic odor and can alter the taste as well. Some babies refuse to drink breast milk with high lipase.
If this happens to you, scalding the milk before you freeze it will help reduce the amount of lipase.
You can also try adding a tiny bit of alcohol free vanilla extract to the breast milk your baby is refusing to drink. Supplementing with formula is also an option.
How do I Increase My Milk Supply?
This is one of the most common breast milk questions breastfeeding and pumping moms have.
We all want to be able to provide our little one with enough to eat to keep them full and healthy for as long as possible. So if you’re curious on what some of the best and proven methods are to increase milk supply, continue reading.
- Consume plenty of lactation aids
- Power pump
- Stay hydrated
- Get plenty of rest and sleep
- Avoid anti-lactation foods and substances
- Stick to a rhythmic pumping or breastfeeding schedule
Consume Lactation Aids
This bullet point deserves a little more explanation. You know that lactation aids are good for increasing milk supply, but what lactation aids?
Galactagogues are typically used in popular lactation aids. Which is a food, medication or herb that stimulates the secretion of breast milk from a lactating mother’s breasts.
Learn more about lactation aids and supplements and to see product suggestions that help with milk production most.
Incase you aren’t familiar with what power pumping does or what it is, here’s an infographic you can save to your Pinterest account for later.
Avoid Anti-Lactation Foods
The last bulleted breast milk question I wanted to elaborate on was what anti-lactation foods to avoid. Believe it or not, but there are plenty of foods and substances that can decrease your milk supply.
- Topical Cabbage
How do I Get Rid of a Clogged Milk Duct?
Uh oh, this is no fun and can turn dangerous quickly!
First of all, make sure you do not have a fever. If you start to feel ill, go straight to your doctor for antibiotics, as this can turn into mastitis very quickly.❸
With that said, there are a number of different things you can do at home to release a clogged milk duct:
- Try and pull it out with a manual breast pump, sometimes a manual pump can get a deeper pull than an electric pump.
- Take a very hot shower to loosen up the clog and pump right after and use massage while pumping.
- Up your intake of sunflower lecithin, this will help keep the lines lubed.
- Dangle pumping is also an effective way to use gravity as an aid to pull out stagnant clogs.
- If you can, try and have baby nurse on the affected breast as their suckle is much more efficient at removing milk.
- Placing cabbage leaves on the clog is also a remedy proven to work really well.
- You can have your husband try and suck it out.
- Put Epsom Salt and warm water in a Haakaa and suction to the affected breast.
- Use lactation tools to vibrate, warm and loosen the clog.
Sunflower Lecithin is also very useful to help keep milk ducts lubed and free from clogs that may inhibit flow and cause mastitis. You can purchase Sunflower Lecithin at Amazon with this link.
How do I Fix My Slacker Boob?
Do you have uneven milk supply or one breast that produces less milk than the other?
If your answer to this common breastfeeding question is yes, than you are normal and can now refer to your under-producing breast as your slacker boob!
Your body should naturally work this uneveness out in time, but if it doesn’t, you can pump longer on the slacker side and apply heat to that breast before a pumping session.
In essence, just give the lazy boob a little extra attention!
If you are exclusively breastfeeding, consider pumping for a few minutes after you have nursed on the slacker boob to increase the supply and demand.
How do I Prepare for Pumping at Work?
Do you have quite a few questions whirling around your head about how to manage your milk supply, work load and breastfeeding relationship while also working outside of the home?
If your answer is yes, then you must do what you can to be prepared. Pumping at work is a challenging undertaking and can greatly disrupt your supply, breastfeeding goals and your work.
Which is why I want to help guide you toward a resource that could potentially be a game changer for this challenging breastfeeding transition.
The Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Class will be a huge service in helping you transition back to work without losing your milk supply or your hope of breastfeeding on your timeline.
Join the thousands of other women who have already enrolled and are benefiting from this course!
If you enroll in any course through one of my links, I will send you my pumping and milk supply course for free, here are the details.
Here’s a FREE pumping at work downloadable handbook with useful documents and digital goodies. Such as pumping signs, your pumping at work rights, pumping schedules for work and more!
How do I Choose the Right Breast Pump?
First, make sure you apply for free breast pumps and supplies through insurance with Aeroflow!
They have been an amazing resource for myself and many other breastfeeding moms.
I have received multiple free breast pumps through insurance with them along with the Kiinde best breast milk storage system, which I love!
In order to choose which breast pump you will have the best results with, ask yourself, how often will you be using it? Will you be a full-time exclusive pumper or just occasional?
If you intend to exclusively pump and give your baby nothing but breast milk, a hospital grade pump is what you should opt for.
Finding the best breast pump for you and your unique breastfeeding needs is a crucial step toward your success as an exclusive pumper.
Likewise, when you’re not familiar with breast pumps in general, the task of choosing one seems somewhat intimidating.
Hospital Grade Breast Pumps:
These three hospital grade breast pumps are best suited for every day and full-time pumping use.
Pssst… Here is a 10% off discount link for you to use toward the SuperGenie if you find that to be a good fit.
Also, Pumpables has an engaged Facebook group you can join where the rest of your pumping and breastfeeding questions can be answered!
Pictured: Pumpables SuperGenie
Shop the link for 10% off (no email required)!
Portable Breast Pumps
- Pumpables Portable Genie Plus
- Nekan Double Electric Breast Pump
- BabyBuddha Double Electric Breast Pump
I also recommend a manual pump, like the Medela Harmony, but a small and portable electric breast pump is a must-have for all pumping moms.
Check out the pumps featured below and shop them with an exclusive discount!
Pictured: Pumpables Portable Genie Plus
Shop the link for 10% off!
Pictured: BabyBuddha Portable Pump
Use code LOVEOURLITTLES10 for 10% off!
Whew, you made it through!
That was also of pumping, breastfeeding and breast milk questions to answer. Hopefully the ones I chose for this article were also ones you REALLY wanted to learn more about.
Don’t forget to save an infographic by clicking the top left corner so that you can save this article for later reference. Below is one last look at the questions and answers you read about today.
- Q. How do I choose the right breast pump? A. Decide your pumping goals and select the best fit.
- Q. How long do I need to pump at each session? A. It is always best to pump until fully empty (to avoid clogs).
- Q. How do I know when I have fully emptied my breasts? A. No more letdowns and flaccid breasts.
- Q. When can I drop pumps? A. Once baby is sleeping thought the night.
- Q. How long is freshly pumped milk good for? A. 4-6 hours at room temperature.
- Q. What is high lipase? A. An enzyme that breaks down fat in breastmilk, metallic smell and taste.
- Q. How do I increase my milk supply? A. Power pump, lactation aids, hydrate.
- Q. How do I get rid of a clogged milk duct? A. See my top 7 tips.
- Q. My breasts do not evenly produce the same amount of milk, is this normal? A. Yes, totally normal!