Everything You Need to Survive Pumping–With Your Sanity Intact
All of the best breast-pumping tips for new moms, along with recommended products. Whether you’re going back to work or you just had a baby and have questions about pumping, what to use, when to pump, how to get the most milk, or anything else.
As I gazed into the eyes of my premature baby, all of the anxiety of my previous experience rolled back over me. I have to make sure this baby is fed was all I could think. “Can I get a breast pump?” I blurted out, ignoring all formality.
A few days after my first baby’s birth, I found myself crying as the ER nurses attempted to find a vein in his tiny arm to start an IV. A c-section, milk coming in late, and a very jaundiced baby all led us to that point. I wasn’t going to let that happen again.
If you’re a first-time mom, pumping may seem like a great mystery to you. Like me, you may find yourself unboxing that breast pump sooner than you expected.
If you breastfeed your baby for a while, you will become a pumping pro, especially if you’re a working mom. But I’ve put some information together to help get you started with the information I found along my breastfeeding and pumping journey.
Breast Pumping Tips for New Moms
So Many Pumps to Choose From…
If you don’t already have a breast pump, check to see if you can get one through your health insurance provider (try Aeroflow or Byram to order online through your insurance).
I personally use the Spectra S2 because it was covered by my insurance, is hospital grade, and has good reviews. The great thing about the Spectra is that it’s hospital grade and none of the milk goes into the tubes, making it more sanitary and easy to clean. I liked it so much that I got a second one when I had my second baby! The Spectra S2 is not rechargeable (the Spectra S1 is the rechargeable version).
There are a lot of different pump options, even some that are wearable.
I also found having a manual pump to be helpful. It was easy to use quickly or on the go since I didn’t have to plug it in. I used this a lot to pump out a few ounces of milk before feeding my baby when I had an oversupply. Similarly, you can use a Haaka, which some people love, to drain some of the milk out or to catch extra milk from one breast while Baby is feeding from the other.
Take the Guess Work Out of Storage
Here are the guidelines for breastmilk storage from the CDC.
Why Would You Ever Pump With a Newborn?
First off, if you just had your baby and you can get him/her to latch, don’t stress about pumping. Your milk supply becomes established at around 6 weeks. Your body won’t produce more than this established demand. This is because your baby will never drink more milk than he/she does at 6 weeks (AG, 2022).
If you add an extra pumping session or two in during these first 6 weeks, that milk will be established as part of your regular milk supply.
You absolutely do not have to pump with your newborn, but you may want or need to pump with a newborn for any of these reasons:
- Your baby is in the NICU
- Your baby won’t latch at all or consistently
- Breastfeeding is painful (read my post on breastfeeding for first-time moms for help if this is the case)
- You want to build a freezer stash
What You’ll Need to Pump With Your Newborn
If you need to pump to feed your newborn while you or they are in the hospital, ask the nursing staff for a breast pump. They will provide you with a pump and a kit with all of the parts you need. Both of my babies were born 3 or more weeks early and ended up with severe jaundice. My first had to spend a day in the NICU and then both ended up having to be admitted to a children’s hospital in their first week.
My second also would not latch for the first month. Both the hospital where I delivered and the children’s hospital were extremely helpful in providing me with a pump, pumping parts, and bottles.
Most pumps also come with everything you need to complete a pumping session and feed your baby, so you don’t need to worry about buying anything extra before your baby is born.
When Pumping Hurts
Flange size is important in making pumping comfortable. Pumps typically come with a 24mm and a 28mm flange. If your nipple gets pulled down into the flange, it’s too big. If it rubs the sides, it is likely too small.
Finding the right size is going to be helpful if you are experiencing discomfort. (Check out this guide from Aeroflow to determine your best flange size.)
Maymom offers different flange sizes if you do find you need something other than the 24mm or 28mm.
Pumpin Pal is another option. The set you order comes with two sizes to help you find the one that works best for you and they have some sets that have silicone flanges. They work with you to help you find the perfect fit.
When to Pump
If you are exclusively pumping, pump every 2-3 hours and feed your baby that milk.
If you are pumping and breastfeeding to build your supply, start with pumping after your baby’s first-morning feeding. An article on Ameda’s blog offers these suggestions:
Pump in the morning. Many moms get the most milk first thing in the morning.
Pump between breastfeeding, either 30-60 minutes after nursing or at least one hour before breastfeeding. This should leave plenty of milk for your baby at your next feeding.(2022)
I would suggest getting some pumping bags to store your milk. Write the date and time on the bags.
The Dreaded Return to Work
If you are a nursing mom in the U.S., your employer is required to provide a space and reasonable time for you to pump when your baby is under one year old (U.S. Department of Labor). Here are some of my breast pumping tips for new moms at work.
How to Get More Milk
If you know you are going back to work at some point, you may want to pump regularly starting in your baby’s second month (when he/she is 1 month old). This will help you establish a higher volume of milk than your baby needs and will build a freezer stash so you don’t have to stress about running out of milk when you go back to work.
Typically, your baby will get more from you than the pump will and this can cause you to come up short of your baby’s need when pumping.
When I went back to work with my first (he was 5 months old), I hadn’t built up a freezer stash or pumped regularly. He ended up drinking more milk while I was gone than I was pumping.
This was extremely stressful for me. I started pumping every night after I put him to bed to try to build up my supply and my freezer stash. Unfortunately, I got a minimal amount of milk at that point and struggled to build up my supply. It was just too late to tell my body to make more milk.
With my second I had a large freezer stash from my early pumping and got a lot more milk when I pumped, so pumping early on is going to make the biggest difference in the amount of milk you can get.
Know How to Pump to Get the Most Milk
I used this guide from Pumpingmamas.com when I was pumping with my second baby and I’m convinced it helped me get more milk. It is specifically for the Spectra, but her website has lots of information about pumping and different pumps if you have something else.
Here’s What You Need to Bring to Work
- A bag for your pump and everything that goes with it (I used this one because it has an insulated compartment, but if you have the Spectra, it doesn’t fit much more than your pump and supplies)
- An ice pack and/or insulated bag (if your bag doesn’t have one)
- Microwave sterilizing bags
- A pumping bra (see options below)
- Milk storage bags
- An adaptor to pump directly into storage bags (if needed)
There are two options for this. You can use a bra that you put on just while pumping or wear a bra all day that has a pumping feature built into it.
I like the Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra as a pumping bra because it is adjustable. I’m fairly busty and some of the popular brands would not fit around me. This one is good because you can throw it in your bag and wear whatever bra you feel most comfortable in throughout your workday.
However, I would say that I prefer the Kindred Bravely Nursing and Pumping Bra simply for the fact that I don’t have to remove or open up my entire bra to pump. This one makes it a lot easier to just attach the pumps and go.
Pumping into Bags or Bottles?
I started out pumping into bottles. I’d come home with 4-6 bottles a day and spend my first 10-15 minutes at home dumping my milk into bags, labeling them, and then washing out the bottles. It was exhausting and I felt like I was wasting my time.
I finally broke down and bought an adaptor so I could pump directly into the storage bags and it was a game changer for me. I’d come home, drop the bags in the freezer, and go about my day.
With some pumps, like the Medela, you don’t even need an adaptor. Personally, I’d recommend skipping the bottles unless you aren’t freezing your milk at all.
Note: You cannot microwave the Maymom adaptor, there is a metal piece that melts the plastic and destroys the adaptor if you do.
When to Pump at Work
Try to pump when your baby would be eating. If your baby isn’t on a schedule and you can’t pin this down, pump every 3 hours if your baby isn’t taking solids and every 4 if they are. If you are struggling with supply, continue pumping every 3 hours even if your baby is eating solids.
So if you find yourself asking for a breast pump at the hospital, I hope this article has given you the tools to know what to do from there. If you’re a first-time mom, I’ve gathered all of the information you need to get ready for motherhood in this article for first-time moms.
AG, M. (2022, February 25). Breast milk production: How supply and demand works. Medela. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.medela.com/breastfeeding/mums-journey/breast-milk-supply-and-demand
Break time for nursing mothers. United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/nursing-mothers
Breast pumping: A guide on when and how long to pump: Milk101. Ameda. (2022, July 7). Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.ameda.com/milk-101/milk-101-article/when-and-how-long-to-pump/#:~:text=Pump%20in%20the%20morning.,baby%20at%20your%20next%20feeding.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, January 24). Proper storage and preparation of breast milk. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/recommendations/handling_breastmilk.htm
Flange Size Chart. Aeroflow Breastpumps. (n.d.). Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://aeroflowbreastpumps.com/flange-size-chart
Lisa Williams, L. E. C. (2022, May 14). Spectra Pump Settings: Pro tips for the most milk. Pumping Mamas. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://pumpingmamas.com/spectra-pump-settings/