Most mothers would rather nurse than pump, I understand. However, if your baby isn’t nursing, pumping helps you build and keep your milk supply. Here are some practical tips.
1. Remember to always wash your hands before you pump.
Prolactin is one of the important hormones for milk production. Holding your baby directly skin-to-skin increases your prolactin levels. When your baby is away, your prolactin levels drop. So hold your baby early and often!
If your baby is in the N.I.C.U, the staff can help you with this. It’s well documented how skin-to-skin helps babies stabilize and calm, even premature and sick infants. You and your baby both need and deserve this.
Hand Expression with Pumping is more effective than just pumping.
Expressing by hand helps your milk flow to the areolar area, where the pump can draw more.* As the milk moves down the ducts, it collects fat along the way, which is good. Eight times in twenty-four hours of full-to-soft cycles is the minimum. By that I mean, your breasts feel full, you pump and your breasts feel softer. You feel full again in awhile, pump and feel softer. Repeating this cycle keeps your milk production hormones high.
Especially in the first two weeks, your body needs at least eight full-to-soft cycles in a twenty-four hour period. This doesn’t mean exactly every three hours. You can vary the timing… just as long as you don’t go for more than four hours at a stretch.
Short and Frequent (power pumping) or Longer and Further Apart.
Power Pumping: Set up your pump in a convenient place. Every hour, for five minutes, pump. No need to clean everything right away, you’ll be back in about 45 minutes. Do five-minute pumps every hour for three hours in a row. Include some hand expression at the start.
Longer pumping takes about thirty minutes with about three hours in between.
• Do five minutes of hand expression, ten minutes of pumping. Pause and go back to
• Five minutes of hand expression, ten more minutes of pumping. That’s about thirty minutes total. You can pump longer if you want. You can do this two hours or three, though no more than four hours if you want to keep your supply up.
This is unique work that only you can do for your baby. Other people can do the laundry, make food. As long as you keep a supply, you’ll have some breast milk for your baby. That’s profoundly important for both of you.
Definitely, call an IBCLC . Get answers to your questions so you can keep up the good work.
*The image of the breast is to help you see how expression and massage help the milk flow.