Lactation consultant LaShanda Dandrich answers the most commonly asked questions about breast pumping.
Q: When is a good time to start pumping?
If possible, hold off on pumping in the first 4–6 weeks* of breastfeeding.
*There are some exceptions to this unwritten rule. If there has been a suggestion to start supplementing infant, if you are using any breastfeeding tools such as a nipple shield or Supplemental Nursing System,if there is a concern of low milk supply due to hormonal issues, then it may be helpful to start pumping early.
Q: My baby feeds for an average of 40 minutes. Do I have to pump for 40 minutes as well?
No, Pumping sessions should really be between 15–20 minutes.
It would be better to pump more frequent sessions than longer duration sessions.
Q: How much of a milk stash do I need in the freezer?
The “Stash” of milk you need in your freezer depends on your individual lifestyle. The purpose of having a freezer stash is “back up” milk. It is there in the instances you do not have a chance to get all the pumping in you need to when you are away from baby. Or if you pump and get a little less than you usually do on a particular day. Also for those days when baby may need a little more than what was left (like during growth spurts).
Q: What if I need to pump to boost supply?
There may be times when you feel like your supply may take a “dip”. Adding in a pumping session even once a day can help increase your supply.
Q: When I pump I do not get a lot of milk. Does this mean my baby is not getting enough when they are feeding?
The pump is not the best indicator of milk supply. Especially if you are breastfeeding as well. Always check to see that baby is meeting minimum diaper output every 24 hours as well as gaining weight and meeting growth milestones. There are many cases where infant can take out more from the breast than the pump can. If concerned about milk transfer, get a test weight with a lactation consultant.
Q: Why does it hurt when I pump?
Pumping, just like baby latching, should not hurt. If it is hurting when you pump, please check the fit of your flanges. There should not be any rubbing of the nipple in the flange. This indicates a flange that is too tight. Also the breast tissue (areola) should not be pulled to far into the flange. This would indicate a flange that is too big.
Also do not turn your pump up to high. Even if directions indicate an optimal level to extract milk, the setting should always be to your comfort. Higher does not equal more milk.
Q: How should I perform breast massage for pumping?
Here is a video that beautifully demonstrates hand expression. The video is geared toward small babies, but the hand expressing technique applies to everyone!
More questions about breast pumping? You can contact LaShanda at the Uptown Village Coop. www.uptownvillage.coop
LaShanda Dandrich is a board-certified IBCLC and trained Postpartum Doula DONA.
In addition to cofounding Uptown Village Coop, she has worked as a breastfeeding educator in various hospitals and breastfeeding groups in New York.
She also consulted for Lilu during the development of the Lilu Massage Bra, which helps moms receive the benefits of breast massage, hands free.
LaShanda lives in Harlem with her daughter.