Pumping And Expressing Breast Milk

4 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

Pumping And Expressing Breast Milk

A lot of new mothers, especially working mothers, rely on pumping and expressing breast milk to feed their babies so that they can get back to work but still continue nursing. This is for the simple reason that breast milk is the primary source of nutrition and is very important to increase the immunity of the baby. In short, breast milk is a superfood. Because of its nutritional value, it is not wise to stop breast milk in the early developmental stages of the baby.

However, there may be situations in which the baby is not nursing well or the mother is not able to feed the baby well because of some temporary health issues. During such a situation, it is important to express the milk to establish and maintain milk supply. By expressing, you will also have your milk available to feed the baby when you are away from the baby for work. Continue reading to know more about pumping and expressing breast milk.

In This Article

What Is Expressing Breast Milk?

Expressing is a method of taking breast milk from the breasts of the mother without the baby needing to suckle. This can be done by using:

  • The hands
  • A manual pump
  • An electric pump

The expressed milk can be used for feeding the baby later.

Why Would I Need To Pump My Breast Milk?

Why Would I Need To Pump My Breast Milk_

Not all mothers are able to feed their babies on demand, as they may not be able to stay with their babies round the clock due to various reasons. A mother may consider pumping her breast milk:

  • If the milk production is less: Pumping helps to stimulate your milk production and increase the milk supply
  • If the mother is working: If you have to stay away from your baby due to your work expressing milk and storing it will help you continue nursing while you are away. Also read: Breastfeeding And Working Mothers
  • If the mother has engorged breasts: The pain and pressure experienced due to engorged breasts can be relieved if the milk is pumped out
  • In case of multiples: If you have more than one baby, then expressing milk will help to ensure all your babies are getting sufficient milk
  • If the mother has to stop feeding temporarily: If the mother is on any medication that might not be suitable for the baby as a result of which she has to temporarily stop breastfeeding, or if the nursing mother has some health issues that make breastfeeding difficult temporarily then expressing milk will help to maintain the breast milk production
  • If the baby is premature: A preterm baby may not be able to latch on to your breast properly. Pumping and giving the milk with the help of a syringe or spoon (depending on the health condition) will be necessary in such circumstances

When To Start Pumping And Expressing Breast Milk?

When To Start Pumping And Expressing Breast Milk_

Some women who breastfeed start pumping the breast milk soon after their baby is born to increase milk production. If you are returning to work then it is advisable to start pumping a couple of weeks beforehand to get the hang of it.

How Often Do You Have To Pump Breast Milk?

Until there is a well-established milk supply, try to get no less than 8-10 pumping sessions in 24 hours. Ten sessions per day are better, especially if you have twins or multiples. Even if not spaced evenly, what you have to remember is:

  • Never take a break for more than 5 hrs
  • How many times the milk is expressed amid the day is more significant than the duration of expressing milk

Usually, electric pumps take around 15 minutes to pump both breasts. Whereas, a hand pump will take only around 45 minutes to finish pumping both breasts. Eventually, the mother can find out the pace and routine of expressing milk.

How Much Breast Milk Should Be Pumped?

How Much Breast Milk Should Be Pumped_

The quantity of the milk that should be pumped depends on different factors like:

  • Baby’s age: Newborns need a small amount of milk. Preemies need still lesser quantities and as the baby grows the quantity of milk expressed should be increased
  • The gap between two pumping sessions: The quantity of breast milk pumped depends on how often the milk is pumped
  • The pumping method used: Electric pumps to express more milk in a short time than the manual ones or expressed by hand
  • Time of pumping: A lot of women are able to pump more milk in the morning and then eventually decrease through the day. This is because milk production varies throughout the day
  • The mood of the mother: When the mother is relaxed, more milk can be expressed than when she is stressed, angry, or sad. If you have negative feelings when you sit down to pump, then adrenaline is released into your bloodstream, which obstructs your milk flow

Exclusive pumping should aim to express 750 – 1035ml of milk per day (the quantity increases when there are multiples). However, this will not happen initially. The baby mostly consumes more expressed milk than during breastfeeding sessions, as expressed milk provides faster and steadier flow.

Maintaining Milk Supply With A Breast Pump

Pumping and collecting as much breast milk as possible helps to maintain the milk supply. It also helps increase milk production as empty breast urges the body to produce more milk. Therefore, if the milk production seems less, increase the number of pumping. However, overdoing it can cause adverse results. Never spend more than 3 hours per day on pumping breast milk. Also Read: Storing Your Breast Milk

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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