Before You Pump
Best Laid Plans
Some women plan on using a breast pump so that they can give their baby a bottle and are prepared to do so as soon as baby is born. Many women do not plan on using a bottle and prefer to breastfeed exclusively. In some cases, a mother who didn’t plan to may end up having to pump her breasts. Certain unforeseen circumstances can dictate the need for pumping. If a baby is born early, or has to be under special care at the hospital, there is a chance that he or she may not be able to nurse right away. In this instance, a mother will need to pump her breasts in order to feed her baby and encourage her milk to come in.
Supply And Demand
If you are pumping from the start instead of nursing, you will likely only get a small amount if colostrum each time you pump, especially if circumstances prevent you from holding or being close to your baby. If your baby is in the care of nurses in the hospital, they will likely be feeding your baby on a schedule and you will be trying to give them as much colostrum as possible to meet your baby’s needs. When your milk comes in you will see a significant increase in production. Make sure that you only pump as much as your baby needs. If you pump your breasts until they are completely empty, your body will automatically start making a larger supply of milk to match the demand. This will lead to a cycle of having to pump frequently to relieve the breasts, which in turn, will continue to cause over production. Learn how to alleviate the pain from engorgement due to over production in our post about breastfeeding.
Keep It Up
If you are trying to increase your milk supply, you can pump your breasts after your baby nurses and store the pumped milk in the refrigerator or freezer for later use. Make sure to label with date and time and store each batch of pumped milk separately. Never heat breast milk on the stove or in the microwave. Simply put the bag or container of milk in a cup of hot water until it is warm and then transfer it into the bottle. Please make sure to reference the milk storage guidelines before using your stored milk to ensure milk freshness and to avoid contamination or spoilage.