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How to Express Breast Milk with a Breast Pump

Nothing can beat the best breast pump in the world = Baby. Having said that, many mothers, especially working mothers, will still rely on a breast pump to provide the “best food” for their babies. However, many mothers are always clueless about whether they are using it correctly or how they can have more yield with the breast pump on hand. Why not follow the tips below to help set you on the path to successful pumping!

Choose the correct flange size

Choose the correct flange size
Nipple shrinking or expansion

Don’t you need to get the perfect size of shoes to walk? Similarly, you also need the right flange size to extract breast milk so that it will not hurt the nipple unknowingly. The left nipple can vary from the right nipple too. Nipple tends to be bigger and sensitive in the early days or when you have engorgement. Some mummies may experience nipple shrinking to a smaller size or expanding to bigger sizes when they lactate or pump over time. 

Don’t know what size fits you best? Click here to download a printable flange-size ruler. The rule of thumb is to get 2-4 mm bigger than the current nipple (before pumping). 

Have a warm compression

Warm Commpression
Avoid warm compression

Don’t you need to get the perfect size of shoes to walk? Similarly, you also need the right flange size to extract breast milk so that it will not hurt the nipple unknowingly. The left nipple can vary from the right nipple too. Nipple tends to be bigger and sensitive in the early days or when you have engorgement. Some mummies may experience nipple shrinking to a smaller size or expanding to bigger sizes when they lactate or pump over time. 

Don’t know what size fits you best? Click here to download a printable flange-size ruler. The rule of thumb is to get 2-4 mm bigger than the current nipple (before pumping). 

Breast Massage

Check and massage the breasts

In the early days, the breastmilk was thick and easily congested at the milk ducts. Massaging the breast helps loosen the milk ducts and remove the lumps (congested milk ducts). Always massage your breast in a circular motion from top to bottom, left to right.  

Choose the suitable pumping mode or rhythm

Choose Suitable Pump Mode
Should I turn the pump to the highest suction level to maximise the yield?

Nowadays, most electric breast pumps come with 2 pumping modes, which mimic how your baby is sucking from your breast. Stimulation mode is fast, light sucking. Vice versa, Expression mode is generally slower with heavy sucking. Always start with stimulation mode to help trigger the let-down reflex. Turn to expression mode when your body is in a “let-down” reflex. 

Should I turn the pump to the highest suction level to maximize the yield? The answer is “NO”. Try to turn to the suction level similar to or 1 level higher than your baby’s suction level. The pumping process should be comfortable, gentle and “pain-free” to the breast.

Breast Compression while Pumping

Have breast compression while pumping

Many mummies use breast compression to compress the breasts while pumping or nursing gently. It helps to improve milk flow and empty the breasts efficiently and thoroughly. How long should I do it? Always gently compress the breast during pumping (particularly when you are having let down or in expression mode).

Click to watch a video on How to do breast massage for milk production.

Hand Expression

Hand expression

Studies show that hand expression after pumping can help generate more milk production and prevent blocked ducts (plugged ducts), a condition when the breast milk is congested or obstructed in a portion of the breast, either at the nipple or any milk ducts in the breast. 

Hand expression is a “life skill” for breastfeeding mothers because it’s convenient, free and handy when you want to relieve engorged breasts or have a quick manual pumping if the breast pump is faulty.

  • CUP around your breast in a C shape, 3 fingers distance from the nipple.
  • PRESS back to the chest wall
  • PRESS towards the nipple (without moving your hand from your breast)

Click here to watch a good demonstration of hand expression of breastmilk. 

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