Learning to use a breast pump may require time and dedication, but the effort is worth it. Read our expert advice on milk extraction, which will help you on your way to effective extraction.
As with all the worthwhile skills, you may need some time to familiarize yourself with the use of a breast pump. The key is to be patient, even if you can not extract a large quantity immediately. After all, the breast pump will not cause you the same feelings as your baby. But, over time, your body will learn to activate your milk ejection reflex when performing the extraction, so the amount of milk extracted should increase.
1: It is not necessary to go in a hurry when it comes to starting to draw milk
During the first four weeks, you and your baby will work together to start and establish your milk supply. If your baby is healthy and breastfeeding is going well, you will not need an extractor for this purpose. However, the extraction is very useful if you have to be separated from your baby at any time (see the following advice). If not, enjoy these moments with your baby and rest assured that even if you plan to express milk regularly in the future, it is not necessary to “train” your body to express milk during the first weeks.
2: Unless your baby can not breastfeed
If your baby can not feed directly to the breast, perhaps because it is premature or has special needs, or if you have to be separated for any reason, start double breast milk extraction as soon as possible after delivery.
Studies show that starting the extraction during the first hours (when a healthy newborn usually makes its first take) helps the mothers to produce a greater volume of milk in the first days and weeks, so it offers babies are the best option to feed exclusively on milk from their own mother.
If you expect your baby or babies to be born prematurely, require intensive care or have a problem that makes breastfeeding difficult, get ready in advance. Obtain information on the extraction, acquire the equipment you may need and ask for the help of a health professional, a specialist or a lactation consultant.
It is likely that there is a double breast pump for hospital use in your hospital or maternity unit, so ask the staff to teach you how to use it. It is important to express milk at the time your baby would, in this way, your breasts receive the message that they should continue to produce milk. In the beginning, try to perform 8 to 10 extraction sessions every 24 hours 3, and keep this frequency when the milk rises.
3: Control the times
Your first extraction session should last at least 15 minutes. Do not worry if you do not get a lot of milk at the beginning; this extra and regular suction will soon stimulate your breasts to produce more milk.
Some mothers indicate that if they perform the extraction one hour after a feeding, they get more milk; others prefer to perform the extraction just after alternate takings. Extract milk at different times to see which one best suits your situation. When you find the most appropriate times for you, keep them so that your body gets used to the use of the breast pump and to the extra demand of your milk supply. You may be tempted to increase the time between extractions in an attempt to obtain a larger volume of milk. However, if you wait until your breasts are full, an extraction session will not empty them completely so the key is to express milk regularly and frequently.
4: Maintain hygiene
Always wash your hands before and after each extraction, and clean all parts of the extractor that have been in contact with your milk or with the baby’s mouth. You will also have to disinfect them after cleaning at least once a day. Make sure you completely dry all the pieces so that you can store the extraction set in a transparent bag or container until the next use.
5: Get ready
To avoid interruptions during the extraction session, keep everything you need at hand before you start. You may want a drink and something to eat, the telephone or the remote control of the TV, bottles or bags to store the extracted milk, and a muslin towel to clean any drip.
An extraction bra with special design will allow you to have your hands free, which will facilitate the operation of the controls and allow you to do other things during the extraction.
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