Using a breast pump
- Be sure to read the instruction manual for the breast pump and collection kit. For the best compatibility, both items should be manufactured by the same company.
Breast milk isn’t sterile, but you don’t want to introduce "outside" bacteria when getting ready to pump, during the actual pumping session or when storing or transporting milk.
- Always wash and rinse your hands thoroughly before handling any clean pump parts, your breasts or the milk collection bottles and containers.
- Certain pump collection kit parts must be cleaned and sterilized, according to the instruction manual. Most recommend thorough cleaning of these parts after each use and sterilizing parts at least once in 24 hours.
- The collection bottles and containers that attach to the pump and are used to collect and store your milk should be sterile.
You may have to experiment with different techniques and settings on your breast pump before you find ones that work best for you. The following are some general tips:
- Some mothers moisten the rim of the breast flange before pumping to create a better seal on the breast.
- Some mothers prefer to center the breast flanges on the nipple and areola first and then turn the pump on. Others turn the pump on first and then place the flanges over the breasts.
- Start the pump at the lowest suction setting and gradually move the setting to increase the level of suction as high as comfort allows.
- Suction can’t be maintained if the seal of the flange on the breast is broken, so check the seal of the flange periodically. Also watch for the rhythmic pull and release of the nipple and areola within the flange.
- Expect to pump for a few minutes before you see a steady flow of milk.
- Don’t fill collection bottles more than 2/3 full to avoid any back flow of milk and to allow for expansion if milk is going to be frozen.
- When you’re ready to stop pumping, use a clean finger to press in on your breast just above the pump breast flange. This should break the seal between the flange and the breast tissue. If milk has pooled in a flange, tilt it so that milk can drain into the collection bottle as you remove the flange. Then turn off the breast pump. (Some mothers turn the breast pump off first, and then break the seal between the flange and the breast.)
Caring for your breast pump and collection kit
- Read the instruction manual and follow the recommendations for cleaning pump equipment.
- The pieces of the collection kit come apart for individual cleaning.
- The pump itself and the tubing portion of the kit do not have to be cleaned and should be kept dry or they will not work appropriately. (These pieces never come in contact with milk that is being pumped.)
- After each use, rinse all parts that come in contact with the breast or milk in cool water first. A cool rinse removes residual milk without coagulating hard-to-clean protein. Then thoroughly clean these same parts in hot, soapy water. Rinse in hot water, and air dry between each use.
- Most manufacturers recommend boiling/sterilizing all parts that come in contact with the breast or milk once a day.
- Don’t use a dishwasher to clean or sterilize the parts that come in contact with the breast or milk unless the instruction manual suggests this method as an option.