When To Start Pumping Milk?

Pumping is a journey in itself – just like breast feeding. Considering modern lifestyle, they both run hand in hand – especially for working mothers. Initially it may seem daunting, but once you get the knack of it – it goes by like a breeze.

Doctors and lactation experts, advise primi mothers to wait for 4 – 6 weeks before they start pumping, to allow the mother and the baby to get used to a routine and a good latch. By this time a feeding routine is set, allowing the mother the time to space out her feeds and pumping sessions without wasting too much time and effort, and maintaining a good sleep pattern, especially through the night.

 But, in case of premature births and complicated pregnancies wherein the mother is unable to nurse the baby, it is advised to start pumping immediately post-partum to stimulate the production of milk.

Some women breast feed exclusively without pumping at all and that is completely normal. This is probably how the older generation lived and has managed to produce a healthy population.

Due to certain lifestyle changes – pumping has become a part of breast-feeding and if done right, it will reap the same benefits to both the mother and the baby.

Mothers who need to get back to work, start pumping early on. Pumping helps relieve engorged breasts and increases the production of milk. Pumping also allows a woman to store milk for when away from the baby. It must be kept in mind, that if there is an intention to pump and bottle feed the child in future, it must be incorporated, 2- 3 weeks in advance, so that it becomes easier for the healthcare provider or the nanny to take care of the child in the mother’s absence. This sets a comfortable and safe understanding between the mother, the baby and the health care provider.

When to pump?

Pump when in a relaxed and meditative state of mind, completely stress free and in a quiet environment, preferably in the presence of your baby and/or your partner. When pumping in the office, it is important to do it in alone, whilst imagining the baby very close.

Encourage letdown by a soft massage or a warm compress over the breasts before pumping.

The best time to pump is immediately after a feed with the baby, while the baby is still on the mother’s lap. It creates a better suction. Pump for 15-20 minutes, just like a baby would, on each breast. Initially there might not be much, but soon after, the let-down increases. Pumping immediately after a feeding session, ensures that the extra milk is not wasted and prevents leaking to a large extent.

If a mother is exclusively pumping, then it is important to schedule it in such a way that it mimics the feeding habits of the baby. This works like a timer for the mother’s hormones.

Power pumping can be done which is similar to cluster feeding.

Cluster feeding is a time when the baby demands more milk more often due to a phase called growth spurt. Power pumping enhances the production of prolactin which results in an increase in the production of milk. Power pump for every 15-20 minutes with a 10-minute break, every two hours.

How to pump?

Mothers can use a hand pump or an electric pump. A hand pump is usually a slow process and very strenuous on the mother. But it works for some.

If going for an electric pump, use a double electric pump. Ensure that the parts are sterilized and dry. Also clean the breast before the pumping session.

Position the nipple on the flange using your fingers and start the pump, at a low speed, initially.

There is no hard and fast rule around pumping. The idea is to make the journey more comfortable for the mother and the baby. Listen to the body, be receptive of the baby’s needs and take help, when needed. 

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