In my work as a breastfeeding counsellor, I am often asked about breast pumps. Here are my thoughts!

A breast pump can be a nursing mother’s best friend in her breastfeeding journey. It allows moms to continue breastfeeding even if they are away from their baby and helps mothers with premature infants initiate and sustain a healthy milk supply to provide their little ones with their life-saving milk. Whether you choose a manual breast pump or an electric model, there are a few basics to properly using and making the most out of your breast pump.

breast pump

Credit: Mike Prince

1. Assess Your Needs.

It is important to assess your needs when it comes to choosing a pump. Will you be using it daily? Bringing it to work? Will you be pumping occasionally for a night out? Knowing your personal needs and unique circumstances will help you choose the best pump for you. If you would only be pumping on rare occasions then you may be better off buying a good quality manual pump rather than investing in expensive hospital grade units. Likewise if you would be exclusively pumping, then it would make sense to invest in a top of the line pump.

2. Choose Wisely.

There is a dizzying array of breast pumps in the market today. After assessing your needs, read up and do your research on product reviews to help you make a decision. There are sellers who offer the use of trial pumps, check your local listing if this service is available in your area. Look into available parts and accessories in case you need them. Whatever pump you choose, ask if there are different sized flanges available. Using the wrong sized flange for your nipple size may injure your breasts and make pumping uncomfortable.

3. Read The Product Instructions.

After purchasing your pump, please do read the product instructions first before using. Especially for electric pumps and battery operated pumps, there may be a few preparatory steps to do, like initial charging, before you can start using them. The milk collection kits would also need a good and thorough washing and boiling to disinfect them before first use.

4. Find Your Spot.

After reading your product instruction manual and familiarizing yourself with how to operate your pump, find a comfortable spot where you can set up your pumping station. Choose a place where you can relax and keep distractions to a minimum. A stress free environment helps you achieve let down faster and helps increase the amount of breast milk you are able to express.

5. Relax and Pump Away.

The best tip for successful pumping is to relax and trust that your body is able to provide for baby’s needs. It helps to listen to music, read a book, catch up on social media or put your feet up and rest from your chores. Many pumping mothers, especially those at work or away from home find that looking at a picture of their baby or watching their videos or smelling one of baby’s used shirts triggers faster let down and increases the amount of milk they are able to pump.

6. Clean Up and Store.

After you pump, make sure you clean up your pump parts and flanges and to store your expressed milk appropriately especially if you will be traveling home from work with the milk. It is important to keep your pump clean to avoid contamination of your milk and also to ensure it stays in good working condition.


Knowing how to use your breast pump properly will go a long way towards keeping a healthy milk supply and helping you sustain extended breastfeeding.


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