Breast Pumping Tips

ExitCare ImagePumping your breast milk is a good way to stimulate milk production and have a steady supply of breast milk for your infant. Pumping is most helpful during your infant's growth spurts, when involving dad or a family member, or when you are away. There are several types of pumps available. They can be purchased at a baby or maternity store. You can begin pumping soon after delivery, but some experts believe that you should wait about four weeks to give your infant a bottle.

In general, the more you breastfeed or pump, the more milk you will have for your infant. It is also important to take good care of yourself. This will reduce stress and help your body to create a healthy supply of milk. Your caregiver or lactation consultant can give you the information and support you need in your efforts to breastfeed your infant.


Follow the tips below for successful breast pumping.

Take care of yourself.

  • Drink enough water or fluids to keep urine clear or pale yellow. You may notice a thirsty feeling while breastfeeding. This is because your body needs more water to make breast milk. Keep a large water bottle handy. Make healthy drink choices such as unsweetened fruit juice, milk and water. Limit soda, coffee, and alcohol (wait 2 hours to feed or pump if you have an alcoholic drink.)

  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

  • Exercise as recommended by your caregiver.

  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep when your infant sleeps. Ask friends and family for help if you need time to nap or rest.

  • Do not smoke. Smoking can lower your milk supply and harm your infant. If you need help quitting, ask your caregiver for a program recommendation.

  • Ask your caregiver about birth control options. Birth control pills may lower your milk supply. You may be advised to use condoms or other forms of birth control.

Relax and pump

Stimulating your let-down reflex is the key to successful and effective pumping. This makes the milk in all parts of the breast flow more freely.

  • It is easier to pump breast milk (and breastfeed) while you are relaxed. Find techniques that work for you. Quiet private spaces, breast massage, soothing heat placed on the breast, music, and pictures or a tape recording of your infant may help you to relax and "let down" your milk. If you have difficulty with your let down, try smelling one of your infant's blankets or an item of clothing he or she has worn while you are pumping.

  • When pumping, place the special suction cup (flange) directly over the nipple. It may be uncomfortable and cause nipple damage if it is not placed properly or is the wrong size. Applying a small amount of purified or modified lanolin to your nipple and the areola may help increase your comfort level. Also, you can change the speed and suction of many electric pumps to your comfort level. Your caregiver or lactation consultant can help you with this.

  • If pumping continues to be painful, or you feel you are not getting very much milk when you pump, you may need a different type of pump. A lactation consultant can help you determine if this is the case.

  • If you are with your infant, feed him or her on demand and try pumping after each feeding. This will boost your production, even if milk does not come out. You may not be able to pump much milk at first, but keep up the routine, and this will change.

  • If you are working or away from your infant for several hours, try pumping for about 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. Pump both breasts at the same time if you can.

  • If your infant has a formula feeding, make sure you pump your milk around the same time to maintain your supply.

  • Begin pumping breast milk a few weeks before you return to work. This will help you develop techniques that work for you and will be able to store extra milk.

  • Find a source of breastfeeding information that works well for you.


  • Store breast milk in a sealable sterile bag, jar, or container provided with your pumping supplies.

  • Store milk in small amounts close to what your infant is drinking at each feeding.

  • Cool pumped milk in a refrigerator or cooler. Pumped milk can last at the back of the refrigerator for 3 to 8 days.

  • Place cooled milk at the back of the freezer for up to 3 months.

  • Thaw the milk in its container or bag in warm water up to 24 hours in advance. Do not use a microwave to thaw or heat milk. Do not refreeze the milk after it has been thawed.

  • Breast milk is safe to drink when left at room temperature (mid 70s or colder) for 4 to 8 hours. After that, throw it away.

  • Milk fat can separate and look funny. The color can vary slightly from day to day. This is normal. Always shake the milk before using it to mix the fat with the more watery portion.


  • You are having trouble pumping or feeding your infant.

  • You are concerned that you are not making enough milk.

  • You have nipple pain, soreness, or redness.

  • You have other questions or concerns related to you or your infant.