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The list was long when it came to everything I didn’t know about pumping breast milk at the beginning of my exclusively breast pumping journey.
Pumping breast milk is a completely new concept for some women, which can make it feel very intimidating!
Luckily, you’ve found the right resource here to find answers to many if not all of your commonly asked breast pumping questions!
PS: Make sure you hang around until the end!
Common Breast Pumping Questions
In this article we’ll go over the most common breast pumping questions and I’ll give you the answers, but If there is anything I missed, you can find additional resources here:
- Making Sense of Breast Pump Parts and Equipment
- Exclusive Pumping Schedule: From Birth and Beyond
- Breast Pumping 101: When to Start, How Often and How Long
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 a free breast pump through insurance with them along with the best breast milk storage system!
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 exclusive pumping 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.
Hold that thought and let’s Pause on the breast pumps for one minute, because I want to share something very important with you first.
Free Pumping Schedules
Question About Pumping at Work
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 milk supply.
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 breastfeeding goals.
Join the thousands of other women who have already enrolled and are benefiting from this course!
P.S. 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.
Best Hospital Grade Pumps
- Spectra S1 or S2
- Medela Pisa
- Medela Symphony
I also recommend a manual pump, like the Medela Harmony. A small and portable pump is also a must-have for exclusively pumping moms.
How long do I need to pump at each session?
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 the session and shoot for multiple letdowns.
On average, most women take 20-60 minutes to evacuate all breast milk.
However, If you are seeking to increase your milk supply, there are a number of different methods you can use.
Power pumping is one of these and that takes an hour to complete.
How do I know that I have fully emptied my breasts?
I see this question circulate a lot and it is a good one!
Many women wonder how they will know for sure that they fully expressed all breast milk during a pumping session.
Sometimes, just waiting for the milk to stop flowing isn’t a 100% sure fire way to know because many women will have multiple letdowns during a session.
I recommend giving yourself enough time on the pump to have at least a couple letdowns (what is a letdown?) and the breasts feel flaccid.
Use sunflower lecithin to help keep the milk ducts free from clogs and have a less inhibited flow.
When can I drop a pumping session?
It won’t be long into your pumping journey that you will start asking yourself this question with much anticipation.
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!
How long is freshly expressed or pumped breast milk good for?
Treat breast milk like you would cows milk, if stored in the fridge, it can last up to 5 days. (source)
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.
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.
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.
How do I increase my milk supply?
This is the echo of a breastfeeding mom and understandably so. We all want to be able to provide our little one with enough of our breast milk to keep them full and healthy for as long as possible.
Here are some ways you can quickly begin to produce more milk:
- Consume lactation aids
- Power pump
- Stay hydrated
- Rest and sleep
- Avoid anti-lactation foods and substances
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 (what is mastitis) very quickly.
There are a number of different things you can do 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 lechitin, this will help keep the lines lubed.
Dangle pumping is also an effective way to use gravity as an aid.
If you can, try and have baby nurse, their suck is much stronger than a pump’s.
Placing cabbage leaves on the clog is also a remedy proven to work really well.
However, be careful not to allow the cabbage to touch any other place on your breast, as It can dry up milk supply.
- Use a manual pump
- Hot shower or compress and pump right after
- Massage and hand express while pumping
- Increase dosage of sunflower lechitin
- Dangle pumping and gravity
- Nurse baby
- Cabbage leaves on clog
My breasts do not evenly produce the same amount of milk, is this normal and how do I fix it?
The answer to this pumping question is, yes! It is perfectly normal to have one breast that produces more or less breast milk than the other.
We like to lovingly refer to the under-accomplishing breast as the “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.
Pumping Questions and Answers: A Quick Look Back
I think that concludes this Q&A for now! I hope I was able to answer some nagging concerns you previously had about pumping.
Let’s quickly recap on the highlights of what we covered…
- 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!
Conclusion and Bonus Pumping Solutions!
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