All the pieces to your breast pump may initially look intimidating, but it’s not hard to learn to use a breast pump. Follow these basic instructions to pump milk for your baby. For more information on expressing milk, see Nineteen Tips for Better Pumping.
- Get ready. If this is your first time using the pump, follow the instructions that came with the pump regarding cleaning and/or sterilizing before use. Assemble the pump parts, following the instructions. Sit in a comfortable chair, next to a table that will hold the pump. Have a storage container handy for the milk.
- Get set. Take a few moments to relax and breathe deeply. Close your eyes. Think about your baby at the breast. Or imagine yourself in a favorite, calming setting. This step helps you relax so that your milk will flow.
- Go. Center your nipple in the pump’s flange (or flanges if you’re pumping both breasts at once). If the pump comes with several sizes of flange, choose the one that fits the best–not too big, but big enough so that the nipple and areola do not rub against the plastic as you pump. Then operate the pump. If it has several suction settings, try the gentlest one first. You can increase the suction if necessary to get more milk. At first, you’ll see only drops of milk appearing in the flange, but after your milk ejection reflex is triggered, you’ll see the milk spray out of your nipple.
- When to stop. Continue pumping until the milk is no longer flowing. If you’re pumping one breast at a time, switch to the other side and pump until the milk stops flowing on that side. Then pump each breast again. If you’re double-pumping, you might want to pump a minute or two longer after the milk flow stops to see if you can trigger another let-down and get more milk.
- Store it. Pour the pumped milk into your selected container (see Storing and Transporting Breastmilk.) Fasten the lid tightly, date the label, and refrigerate or freeze.