Breast Pumps 101: A Guide for New Parents

Aug 2, 2022 | Birth Center, Breastfeeding

Every feeding journey is unique! Many families experience pumping as part of their feeding journey. In this article, we address pump basics, reasons people pump, and best practices for pumping. If you are experiencing challenges or stress in your feeding journey, we always recommend that you seek the support of a lactation consultant

Getting Your Pump

First things first, nearly every insurance company including Medicaid will provide you with a free breast pump. You will need your care provider to send a prescription to your insurance company; this is something we do in our office! The timeframe of when your pump will arrive via mail varies. For some companies, you can’t order until baby is born, while other companies ship it ahead of time.

We’ve found that many clients tend to like the double electric pumps that allow you to be hands free, like the Spectra S2. Many folks also like to have simple manual pumps that they can use on the go, such as the Medela Harmony. Another amazing product, which you can use in tandem with a manual pump (or while bodyfeeding) is the Haaka, which is a “passive pump.”

Lactation consultants can be helpful in determining the best flange fit or addressing pumping issues along the way. Additionally, some pump companies have lactation consultants you can schedule calls with!

Reasons to Pump

There are a wide range of reasons you may need or want to use breast pumps. You get to decide what way(s) of feeding work best for you and your family, and it’s okay to make adjustments or seek help along the way. Below are some of the primary reasons our clients pump:

  1. You prefer it. For some folks, body feeding can be activating due to trauma, sensory needs, or physical disabilities. We want to normalize the fact that some parents don’t feel comfortable breastfeeding, and they prefer to exclusively pump instead of using formula. Some families opt to use a combination of pumped milk and formula.
  2. You are healing latch issues. If you’ve developed irritation on the breast(s), you may need to take a temporary or long term break from bodyfeeding and focus on pumping. 
  3. You are preparing to return to work/are working. You may begin pumping before you begin the transition back to work to get into the rhythm and routine. While working, many parents find that pumping in the morning when breasts are full is helpful. We suggest pumping one side while baby feeds on the other side.
  4. You want to increase supply. Initiating pumping after baby bodyfeeds can be a strategy for boosting your supply. Lactation consultants can offer specific regimens and suggestions for supporting an increase in supply– beginning with something like 15 minutes of pumping every 2-3 hours initially.

Best Practices

These are a few best practices to follow while pumping to protect your and baby’s health and safety:

  • Get familiar with milk storage guidelines. We suggest the 555 rule– 5 months in the freezer, 5 days in the refrigerator, 5 hours at room temp (once pumped fresh or once thawed).
  • Clean the pump and attachments each time you pump. This helps avoid thrust and other fungal or bacterial growth. If you need a short cut, we suggest microwave steam sterilizer bags.
  • Avoid sharing pumps with tubing with other people because breastmilk can contain blood and possibly communicate diseases.
  • Have a small lunchbox or cooler specifically for pumping on the go or at work. Also, a reminder that all workplaces must provide time and space for pumping, as well as a place to store milk. Read more about the the law here.


Sweet Child O’ Mine Is Here For You

Your team of midwives is here to support you in navigating your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum journey, including feeding. Check out all of our services here, and find our article about breastfeeding here for additional info.We would be honored to be part of your team!

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