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Common Questions and Answers for Breastfeeding and Expressing Breast Milk Using a Breast Pump

By Upliftingfam @upliftingfam
Common Questions and Answers for Breastfeeding and Expressing Breast Milk Using a Breast Pump

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Disclosure:  This post is for informational purposes only.  If you have any further questions, please contact a lactation consultant for additional help.  

Does it hurt to express breast milk using a breast pump?

A breast pump shouldn’t hurt when you are using it.  Most models of electric breast pumps have a setting that adjusts the amount of suction.  Set the suction level to a setting that is comfortable; however, it needs to be strong enough to express the breast milk.  If adjusting the suction level, you may need to purchase a different size of breast shield.

How much milk should I expect to pump?

The average person should expect to pump around 2-3 ounces per breast.  Do not get discouraged if you don’t pump this much during a session.  The amount will vary depending on the time of day, when you last pumped, when your baby last ate, or directly following a feeding.

How can I increase my milk supply?

The best way to increase your milk supply is to pump often and completely empty your breasts.  The best way to tell if your breast have been fully emptied, is to pump an additional 5 minutes after the milk stops flowing.  This will trigger your body to produce more milk.  You can also use supplements such as mother’s milk tea, fenugreek, and blessed thistle to help your body to produce more milk.  Learn more about increasing your breast milk supply here.


Why is my breast pump losing suction?

Check the valves and membranes for cracks or tears.  If the membranes are torn then they do not operate properly and cause a loss of suction.  Also, if the valves get a crack in it, it no longer functions properly.  If the membranes don’t have a tight seal against the valve, then suction can be lost.   Check the tubing regularly for cracks.  These parts need to be replaced on regular basis for maximum benefits.

Do I need anything special to pump breast milk into?

Most breast pumps come with a one to four 4 or 5 ounce bottles, depending on the breast pump model, to pump your breast milk into.  Some breast pumps have pump and save breastmilk bags.  These bags allow you to hook them directly to your pump, so that you can pump your breast milk directly into the bag.

 How I store breastmilk when I am away from home?

It is important to store your freshly pumped breast milk properly.  Some models of breast pumps come with a cooler and ice pack, making it easy to store your breast milk.  If the breast pump doesn’t have a cooler and ice pack, then you should purchase one separately if you can’t store the milk properly while away from your baby or home.  Freshly expressed breast milk can safely sit out at room temperature for around 4 hours (at 66 to 72 degrees).

 Do I need to purchase additional breast pump parts and accessories?

Many mothers find it beneficial to keep extra breast pump parts and accessories on hand, such as valves, membranes, and tubing.   Also, some mothers purchase additional parts to have a spare set of parts to leave at work, swap out at home, or keep them in their breast pump bag.  Having a spare set will keep you from having to wash your breast pump parts immediately after each use for the next pump session.

 How often should I pump?

You should pump whenever your baby would eat.  Ideally, you should be pumping every 2 to 3 hours to maintain your supply.

Do I need to wear a nursing bra?

It is important to wear a bra that fits your breasts properly.  Breast Feeding Bras">Nursing bras often allow you to continue to wear your bra while you breastfeed.  Nursing bras are designed with a flap that unsnaps so that your nipple is exposed so that you can feed your baby easily.

Do you recommend sleeping in a nursing bra?

When a mom breastfeeds her baby, she will need to wear a bra or Nursing Cami">nursing cami at night so that she can place nursing pads on the breast to prevent milk from leaking.

Are Nursing Pads Necessary?

Yes, when a mother is breastfeeding her baby it is natural for her breasts to leak.  Wearing breasts pads helps protect her clothes from being stained or from becoming wet from leaking milk.  Find out what type of breast pads are available: disposable vs reusable nursing pads.

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Originally written on July 12, 2012.

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