Last Reviewed: August 2013
Six Weeks to Six Months
Expressing/pumping breast milk
Expressing breast milk by pump
Expressing your breast milk is not the same as breastfeeding; therefore the amount you collect is not necessarily the amount of milk that is available for your baby in your breasts.
Breast milk expression may be easier once your milk supply has been established (e.g., this takes about 4-6 weeks).
Choosing a pump
See Types of pumps for information of the variety of pumps available. Individuals with breastfeeding expertise can provide advice on the type of pump that is best for you. If your baby is still hospitalized you should discuss the need for a pump with the hospital staff.
Using a pump
How long should I pump?
- Pick an appropriate flange to suit your nipple size and breast shape.
- Moisten your breast with water to improve seal and suction.
- Use only as much suction as needed to maintain flow.
- Avoid long periods of uninterrupted suction which may damage your breasts/nipples.
- Change the collection container when it becomes three quarters full to prevent milk from backing up into pump.
- Turn your electric pump off before removing the flange from your breast to minimize nipple damage.
You will need to tailor the length of your pumping session to suit your own needs. Average length of pumping time is 10-20min per breast. Switch to your other breast once the flow slows down on the first side if using a manual or single electric breast pump. Switching several times may stimulate several milk ejection reflexes allowing you to collect more milk. Stop expressing when your milk flow is minimal or has stopped.
Helping your Milk to Flow:
- Stimulate ‘let down’ by: using warm compresses, massage, hand expression, visualizing
baby, having scent of baby’s clothing nearby, listening to music or by relaxing
- If ‘let down’ has not occurred, start pumping using short, quick pulls until you see milk
- After ‘let down’, use slower, gentle pulls to draw milk out
Cleaning your pump
- Pumping equipment should be cleaned according to manufacturer directions
- Clean, dry equipment should be kept covered when not in use
- Breast Milk Pumps (PDF file, 64KB)