Pumping your breast milk allows you to provide your baby with a steady supply of milk—which can be helpful when you are traveling or going back to work, according to BabyCenter. Pumping breast milk may not feel natural or easy to you, which may cause you to question if you are pumping enough breast milk.
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There are three methods of pumping breast milk, according to KidsHealth. These include pumping by hand, by electric pump or manual pump. While each will allow you to express milk, breast pumping via a pump device may prove a faster option.
Using a Breast Pump
To pump the optimal amount of breast milk via an electrical pump, you should position the breast phalange—shield—over your nipple, according to BabyCenter. The pump will then work to extract the milk. If you experience pain or an itching sensation, the pump may not be correctly attached. Other pumps that work mechanically require you to press a mechanism or plunger that will work to express the milk.
To express milk by hand, place your clean thumb and index finger around your breast in a “C” shape. Compress and rotate the fingers to express the milk.
You may not pump a large amount of breast milk the first few times you start to pump, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. The amount of milk you are able to pump is often synonymous with how often you pump—the more you pump, the more you will make. This makes it necessary to drink plenty of fluids daily to ensure you are hydrated enough to produce a sufficient amount of milk. The amount of milk you are able to pump depends on the time since you have last pumped, according to Nancy Morhbacher, an international board-certified lactation consultant on Ameda.com, a breastfeeding and health website. For example, pumping between breastfeeding your baby may equal half of your baby’s typical feeding. Pumping during a missed feeding can be the equivalent of a full feeding.
Pieces of the Puzzle
The amount of breast milk you pump may depend upon several factors, according to Mohrbacher. These include your baby’s age, time between feedings, time you are pumping, type of pump, your skill at using the pump and your mood and mindset at the time. Pumping when worried or stressed may slow your milk production, according to Keep Kids Healthy. Keep in mind also that you produce more milk in the morning.
Keep in Mind
If your baby seems to be eating more milk from the bottle than you pump each session, this is not cause for concern, according to Mohrbacher. Because milk tends to flow easier from a bottle than the breast, your baby may tend to eat more from the bottle. For this reason, portion the milk from your pumping sessions to the amount your baby typically eats—usually between 3 and 4 ounces.