Your Most Asked Pumping, Breastfeeding and Breast Milk Questions – Answered!

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You may have a long list of pumping, breastfeeding and breast milk questions you need answered. If that’s the case, you are definitely in the right place mama!

This post 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?

Free Pumping Schedules

An image of a cell phone with a free pumping schedule on the screen.

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 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.

Below, you will see a short list of good pump choices for your everyday breast pump and a must-have portable pump for things like pumping on the go and pumping while driving.

Hospital Grade Pumps

  1. Spectra S1 or S2
  2. Medela Pisa
  3. 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.

Portable Pumps

  1. Milk Genie Plus (10% off)
  2. Nekan Double Electric Breast Pump
  3. BabyBuddha Double Electric Breast Pump (10% off)

Question About 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!

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.

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 the session and shoot for multiple letdowns.

On average, most women take 20-40 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.

Read: Breast Pumping 101: When to Start, How Often and How Long

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 and the breasts feel flaccid.

Use sunflower lecithin to help keep the milk ducts free from clogs and have a less inhibited flow.

What is A Letdown?

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 letdown is.

According to parents.com, a letdown is the release of breast milk from the breasts when nerves in your breasts and nipples are stimulated.

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.The formula of a letdown infographic

Read: How Many Calories Does Pumping Burn? The Formula Revealed

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!

You may also wonder how to manage pumping at night and caring for your little one at the same time. 

Those tips will be in this related read, Pumping at Night: The Ultimate Middle of the Night Handbook.

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. 

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.

Storing breast milk chart infographic image.

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 the longing for many breastfeeding moms 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

Consuming Lactation Aids

These bullet points deserve 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.

Read more about lactation aids and supplements here to also see product suggestions.

Power Pumping 

Incase you aren’t familiar with what power pumping does or what it is – here’s the quick breakdown.

Power-Up breast pumping infographic to demonstrate power pumping

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.

Here’s a list:

  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Topical Cabbage
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Yarrow

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.

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.

And your last resort (or maybe first, not here to judge) is to have hubby suck out the clog for you. 

My Breasts do not Evenly Produce the Same Amount of Milk, is this Normal and how do I fix it?

The answer to this breastfeeding 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.

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.

FREE Pumping at Work Handbook

Ultimate pumping at work bundle printable pack display image.

Conclusion 

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.

Read: How to Pump More Milk and Maximize Your Pumping Efforts!

Pumping, Breastfeeding and Breast Milk FAQ’S: A Quick Look Back

  • 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!

References:

  1. Overactive Letdown – parents.com
  2. Breastfeeding Recommendations – cdc.gov
  3. What is Mastitis – mayoclinic.org

Read Next: Breastfeeding and Pumping Schedule: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

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