How Do I Use A Breast Pump?


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Like breastfeeding, pumping is a learned skill.  Most mothers are able to express only a few drips of milk when they first try a breast pump.  With practice and knowledge of how the breast works, the mother will soon become more efficient at pumping. 

No matter what method of pumping is used, the success of pumping depends on the body's ability to "let-down" to the pump.  Sometimes if mothers don't see milk immediately after beginning pumping, they start to pump harder or increase the suction with the mistaken idea that more pressure with "pull" the milk out.  Doing this can cause discomfort and anxiety and actually discourage the let-down response.  Understanding how the let-down works makes understanding pumping easier.

The let-down reflex releases milk from the back of the breast into the ducts to make it available to baby or the pump.  As the nerves in the nipple and areola are stimulated by baby's sucking or the action of the breast pump, the pituitary gland receives a signal to release prolactin and oxytocin into mother's blood stream.  Prolactin relaxes the mother and stimulates the alveoli to produce more milk.  Oxytocin causes the alveoli to contract and squeezes milk into the ducts.  

Preparing the breast pump

Getting Started

Helpful Hints

Relaxing and realizing that the pump is a friend is the most important thing a mother can do.  There are many things mothers can do to help themselves relax such as putting a picture of baby on the pump; play cards or a game with her mate or friend; watch television; read a book; talk on the phone.  Watching the milk collection bottle is not helpful.

Easing the transition to the breast for the sick baby


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Breastfeeding Answers is made available by Ameda®