Top 5 Things to Know When You Get Your First Breast Pump

Top 5 Things to Know When You Get Your First Breast Pump
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New Mom’s Guide: What To Know When You Get Your Breast Pump

If you’re a new or expectant parent, nursing and breast pumps may seem like something of a mystery to you—and that’s totally normal! We want to help you feel confident about expressing your breast milk, so we’ve put together these five things to know when you get your first breast pump.

Set Up Your Pump Before Baby Arrives

The less stress you have in those first few weeks after baby comes home, the better. That’s why we recommend setting up your pump and familiarizing yourself with how it works before your little one arrives.

  • Follow the instruction manual that came with your pump when setting up. This will help you become familiar with the parts while learning how to assemble and use the pump. (Pro tip: You can find the official instruction manuals and helpful product videos for most Medela breast pumps on our website.)
  • Make sure all the parts are working properly so you’ll have plenty of time to return or exchange anything.
  • Before using your breast pump, be sure to sterilize it. You can place parts in the dishwasher if they are dishwasher safe. If not, boil the parts in water for approximately five minutes and allow them to air dry.
  • Become familiar with your breast pump’s settings and options, what they do, and how they can benefit you.
  • Accessorize! You’ll want to make sure you have all the breast pump accessories you’ll need, including nursing pads, a nursing pillow, breast pump storage bags, lanolin for sensitive nipples, and more.

When and How Long To Pump

Pumping is extraordinarily helpful if you’ll be returning to work and want to build up a milk supply. It also allows your partner or other caregivers the opportunity to feed and bond with your baby while affording you a much-needed rest. Finally, pumping helps relieve engorgement and prevent mastitis, a painful inflammation or infection of breast tissue.

If you decide to begin pumping in the hours after birth, be sure to request and use a hospital-grade (multi-user) breast pump like our Symphony PLUS(R) with Initiation Technology (rather than a personal use breast pump). This will ensure you have a well-established milk supply (typically two to four weeks post-birth) before introducing a personal use pump, particularly if your little one isn’t nursing well or you choose to primarily pump for your baby. Once you’ve started pumping, plan to pump for at least 15 – 20 minutes per session and 1 – 2 minutes extra after the last drops of milk.

While we don’t recommend that you begin pumping until your milk supply is well-established in the weeks following birth, we understand that there may be other reasons to start pumping right after birth or before your milk supply is firmly established. In those situations, the Symphony PLUS(R) Breast Pump can help you initiate, build, and maintain your milk supply.

If you’re preparing to go back to work and wish to build a supply of pumped milk for times when you’re away from your little one, try getting into the habit of pumping at regular intervals during those times. Such as between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or between noon and 6 p.m.—whatever your usual work schedule may be. This will encourage your body to adapt to those pump times in advance, so you can continue providing your little one with breast milk even after you return to work.

How To Know That You’re Pumping Correctly

When you’re pumping correctly, you should feel a natural tugging sensation. If you’re experiencing pain, try lowering the suction setting on your pump. Additionally, you’ll want to make the most of your pumping sessions by measuring your nipple diameter to ensure you have the correct flange (breast shield) fitting for a comfortable and productive pumping experience.

It’s completely normal to express only a few ounces the first several times you pump. Give your body time to get used to the pumping process, and be sure to pump and/or nurse at least every two to three hours. Remember, your milk is produced on a supply and demand basis! Rest assured that, before long, you’ll be expressing enough for your baby’s needs. If you have supply concerns or you are worried that your little one isn’t getting enough milk, be sure to get in touch with a lactation consultant or your baby’s pediatrician right away for professional support and solutions.

How Much Milk To Expect

It’s essential to make sure you fully empty both breasts before you discontinue pumping. In the first week you may only express between 1-2 ounces when you pump. As you continue to pump and your baby nurses, your output will increase to as much as 5 ounces over the months ahead. 

Cleaning Your Pump

It is critical to clean your pump regularly to avoid bacteria growth. You can clean parts by hand by scrubbing items in hot, soapy water. Make sure to rinse and air dry thoroughly before using again. You can also wash your pump parts in a dishwasher if they are dishwasher safe. Use hot water and a heated drying cycle. It is also recommended you sterilize your pump parts once a day if your baby is three months old or younger.

For additional details, be sure to refer to your breast pump’s Instructions for Use or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for cleaning your breast pump kit.

Pumping ensures that you always have a good supply of your “liquid gold” whenever baby is hungry. You might feel a bit nervous at first, but we’re confident you’ve got this, mamma! You’ll get the hang of it in no time at all.


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Asheley Rice

I am a pop culture and social media expert. Aside from writing about the latest news health, I also enjoy pop culture and Yoga. I have BA in American Cultural Studies and currently enrolled in a Mass-Media MA program. I like to spend my spring breaks volunteering overseas.

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