|Once your milk has “come in” you may find it easier to use a breast pump, either manual or electric. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s directions regarding use, cleaning and sterilization.|
How to use a hand pump
- Stimulate the nipple by hand and start the flow by hand expressing.
- Place the pump shield centrally over your nipple and press it firmly into your breast.
- Use the pump gently but quickly at first - this helps with the let down reflex and mimics what your baby does when they first start a breastfeed.
- Once the milk is flowing use a slower speed but stronger suction.
- There should be no pain or discomfort.
How to use an electric pump
|Double pumps are recommended for longer term expressing. It has the benefit of being time efficient and also helps with your milk supply. For mothers of twins or other multiples it is also recommended.|
|Stimulate the nipple by hand and start the flow by hand expressing.|
|Place the pump shield centrally over your nipple and press it firmly into your breast.|
|Use at high speed but low suction at first (some pumps have a speed setting).|
|Once the milk is flowing, slow the speed back to medium and increase the suction to a comfortable level for you but helps the milk flow well.|
|Your nipple should move freely in the pump shield, with little of none of your areola being pulled into the pump shield.|
- If you are unsure about the breast fit, seek advice from a breastfeeding specialist.
- There should be no pain or discomfort.
- Double pumping (expressing both breasts at once) will decrease the time needed to express.
Expressing with a double electric pump kit
|Follow steps 1-5 for the single pump.|
|When you are ready then place the 2nd pump shield your other nipple.|
|Express for 10-15 mins total or until the flow is reduced to drops.|
|Some mothers find that expressing both breasts by hand for a minute or so after the pump helps to get a few extra mls and help maintain their milk supply.|
|At any time you can use the pump as a single pump if you prefer.|
Purchasing a breast pump
|There are various things you should consider before purchasing a breast pump, such as:|
- if feeding is going well you may not need to purchase a pump
- hand or manual pumps are intended for occasional use 2-3 times a day
- some hand pumps are able to be used with electric breast pumps
- electric pumps are for more frequent use e.g. more than 3 times a day or for a long period of time
- if you have a premature baby it is best to use an electric breast pump.
|The choice of pump for you is determined by how often you will use it. It is best to seek expert breastfeeding advice before hiring or purchasing any pump equipment.|
|Pumps are available for hire and purchase from:|
- Australian Breastfeeding Association
Cleaning the breast pump equipment
- Dismantle all pieces of the breast pump kit after use
- Rinse with cold water all parts that come in contact with breast milk
- Wash in warm water and dishwashing detergent
- Rinse thoroughly under warm running water
- Allow to air dry while draining on clean paper towel before storing in a clean closed container or plastic bag
- It is recommended that the equipment is disinfected daily especially if your baby is in a Special Newborn Care Nursery.
- The equipment can be disinfected daily by using a process such as boiling (see below), Milton solution (follow manufacturers directions) or a home steam steriliser (follow manufacturers directions).
Boiling method of disinfection
- Thoroughly clean all parts as above
- Completely immerse all parts of the breast pump kit in water, bring to the boil and continue to boil rapidly (completely submerged) for five minutes uninterrupted
- Remove the items without touching the inside of the containers. Long handled tongs, which have been disinfected along with the breast pump kit, may be useful
- Allow to air dry while draining on clean paper towel before storing in a clean closed container or plastic bag.
Guidelines for storage of breastmilk at home
|Room temperature |
(26°C or lower)
(4°C or lower)
|Freshly expressed into container|
|6-8 hours |
If refrigerator is available store milk there
Store at back where it is coldest
|2 weeks in freezer compartment inside refrigerator|
3 months in freezer section of refrigerator with separate door
6-12 months in deep freeze (-18°C or lower)
|Previously frozen – thawed in refrigerator but not warmed|
|4 hours or less – that is, the next feeding|
|Thawed outside refrigerator in warm water|
|For completion of feeding|
|4 hours or until next feeding|
|Only for completion of feeding|
See also related fact sheet: Breastfeeding: Expressing breast milk
Where to get more information
|Royal Women's Hospital|
Cnr Grattan St & Flemington Rd
Parkville VIC 3052
|Tel: (03) 8345 2400|
|Your local Maternal & Child Health Nurse|
|Tel: 13 22 29|
|Australian Breastfeeding Association|
|Tel: 1800 mum 2 mum (1800 686 2 686) Breastfeeding Helpline|
|The Royal Women’s Hospital does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided in this fact sheet or incorporated into it by reference. We provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.|
|Published: Jan 2008|