Using a Breast Pump While Breastfeeding: Tips and Advice

A mother using the Momcozy V1 Hands-Free Breast Pump - Hospital Grade while cradling her infant

What Ways Are Best When Feeding Breast Milk to My Baby?

Feeding breast milk to your infant is a big decision, but most new parents agree that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the inconvenience of it. In fact, many feel that bottle feeding is more of a hindrance to an ever-busy schedule. 

Let's discuss some of the most relevant advice a new mom needs from the time she decides to breastfeed until she is comfortable with the demands of feeding breastmilk to her baby. We'll see what things she must keep in mind to breastfeed correctly and how using a breast pump can help her supply and her baby's well-being.

Deciding to Breastfeed

Planning and being prepared with the right tools is a crucial step for new parents who are considering breastfeeding their infants exclusively. This preparation ensures a smooth transition into breastfeeding and allows you to make the best choices for your baby's health. During the last month before your due date, there are a few key things to keep in mind: (1)

  • Insurance providers usually require a prescription from your ob-gyn to cover the cost of your breast pump.
  • Some plans only cover specific breast pump models, so ensure you know this before ordering your machine.
  • Most pumps have warranties, but they are for a limited time, so order early enough and maintain the duration of it.
  • Find a lactation consultant (LC) who can support you after your child's delivery. Ensure they are in your insurance provider's network. Many hospitals offer LCs to assist new moms post-birth.
  • Prenatal breastfeeding classes are available and are encouraged so that new parents aren’t overwhelmed with new information post-birth (2). 
  • Planning for immediate skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby after delivery is crucial. Discuss this with the delivery team to ensure it's accommodated. This practice signals your body to produce breast milk and initiates that special bond between you and your baby.
A mom breastfeeding her baby.

A mom breastfeeding her baby.

Breastfeeding Benefits for You and Your Baby

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies have breast milk exclusively for six months. At six months, foods may be introduced into your baby’s diet while continuing to breastfeed for one full year or longer. It is by the mutual desire of the mother and the baby whether breastfeeding goes on longer than that (3). 

Breast milk is readily available at any time. It is not contaminated because it is always at the right temperature and ready to feed. Breast milk has no cost. Children fed breast milk have improved neurodevelopmental outcomes, and their dental health is better than those who drink formula. 

Nutrition

The nutritional value of breast milk is extraordinary! At first, breast milk will be colostrum. This thick liquid is rich in protein and helps your child stay hydrated. Colostrum is full of antibodies from the mother that help shield your baby from infections. It protects against certain illnesses to which you’ve already built up immunity. Breastfed babies have a low risk for medical conditions such as diabetes, ear infections (otitis media), asthma, and obesity. Babies receiving breast milk have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). 

The colostrum will change and mature after breastfeeding for three to five days when the mother’s milk “comes in (4).” Your baby's nutritional needs will change as they grow, and your breast milk will change along with them. Breast milk will always be the best source of nutrition for your baby.

Mom’s Benefits

Breastfeeding may also be an advantage for mothers, allowing them to return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster. Nursing a baby delays the chance of fertility and promotes the closeness of mother and infant. While you breastfeed, mothers will produce a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin helps the uterus return to its size before pregnancy and reduces the amount of vaginal bleeding that occurs after delivery.  When the baby drinks her breast milk, the risks of high blood pressure (or hypertension), Type 2 diabetes, and breast and ovarian cancer decrease (4). 

Breastfeeding Your Baby the First Days and Weeks

Knowing what to expect when you first bring your baby home is valuable. Anticipating some of the ups and downs of being your baby's sole source of nutrition is necessary so you will not feel overwhelmed. 

Your baby will nurse frequently in the first few weeks to build up your milk supply. Some babies breastfeed almost 20 times daily if you count each breast as a feeding. Your infant’s demand will determine and increase your milk supply. 

It’s best to breastfeed only in the first few weeks so you have no problems with their latching. Babies may become confused if you introduce a bottle before they are consistently suckling at the breast. The same applies to pacifiers in the first few weeks (5). 

Does My Baby Get Enough?

You’ll know your baby is getting enough of your breast milk if they seem satisfied and are not rooting or fussy after a feeding. Your breasts will feel fuller when it is time for the baby to nurse once again, and sometimes, the baby’s hunger cry will produce a let-down sensation in your breasts with some leakage from your nipples. You may need to wear disposable or cloth pads in your bra to soak up the leaks.

Other signs that your baby is getting enough from your breast milk:

  • Your baby is gaining weight after the first few weeks.
  • You breastfeed eight to twelve times in 24 hours.
  • Your baby is urinating and has enough poops during the day; usually, five to six wet diapers and at least three poops by day three of their life (6).
Mom wearing the Momcozy All-in-One M5  Wearable Breast Pump while cuddling with baby.

Mom wearing the Momcozy All-in-One M5 Wearable Breast Pump while cuddling with baby.

Using a Breast Pump

Breastfeeding your baby is best. Pediatricians and lactation consultants alike recommend breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life before including any other foods. Then, breastfeeding through the first full year and introducing food into the baby’s diet (3). 

It is best to take breastfeeding classes during the last trimester. They can help parents better understand: 

  • how breastfeeding your baby works
  • how to establish a healthy supply of human milk
  • the best nursing positions
  • how to help your baby latch
  • how to know if your baby is getting enough milk
  • who to call for help if advice or answers are needed

When considering breastfeeding or using a breast pump, you do not have to rely on just one option. After your baby has established a good latch and you feel that they can drink breast milk from a bottle without nipple confusion, you can use a combination approach.

Do I Need a Breast Pump?

Breast pumps are essential when breastfeeding a baby. Although it is not recommended to do anything but feed your baby from the breast for the first few weeks, after the baby is comfortable, a breast pump can ensure that there’s a supply of human milk stored for use when the mother must be separated from the child. 

Sometimes, some situations call for pumping exclusively. These may include:

  • A premature baby
  • Cleft palate at birth
  • Painful breastfeeding
  • Trouble latching
  • Mothers separated from the infant due to illness or other circumstances.

In these cases, pumping and storing breast milk allows you to create a stockpile of human milk. Premature babies may be unable to latch on until they are more mature. Being born with a cleft palate makes feeding difficult at the breast. If the baby cannot latch on comfortably, a mother may feel pain or discomfort, and pumping can avoid this. 

If breastfeeding your baby is delayed, pumping immediately after birth can help increase milk production. The baby will still get the colostrum, which is full of vital proteins. 

Insurance Coverage

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 entitles all new moms in the United States to a free breast pump and free breastfeeding supplies through their insurance. Hospitals do not supply new parents with a breast pump. 

Because of the ACA, insurance companies must cover a breast pump and supplies for their members who are pregnant or new mothers who have just given birth and are breastfeeding. However, the ACA does not specify what kind of breast pump is covered by insurance and what price range. 

Call your insurance company by your third trimester and ask specific questions such as these:

  • For what types of breast pumps do you provide coverage?
  • Where and how do I get my pump?
  • Is a prescription necessary?
  • Can I upgrade my breast pump?
  • Are hospital-grade pumps covered?
  • If I want a hospital-grade pump, will I have to pay anything more?

Insurance plan coverage must include some kind of free pump and supplies for new mothers. The only reason they may not be is if your plan existed before March 2010 and is considered a “grandfathered” plan. These plans do not have to comply with the provisions of the ACA.

You can appeal if your plan is not “grandfathered” (8).

Types of Breast Pumps

Consider where you will be pumping your breasts. A corded device may be all you need if you only pump at home. If you take the pump with you, a portable version, either battery-powered or rechargeable, would be more helpful.

There are different types of breast pumps, each of which works differently (7). 

Manual Breast Pump

A manual breast pump is usually single, which means you remove the milk from one breast at a time. You must squeeze the lever on the pump to produce suction, which helps the milk come out. Manual pumps are low-cost and do not require batteries or electricity to function. 

Milk Collection Devices

These devices collect breast milk from one breast as your baby is nursing on the other. They are usually silicone; some use suction to draw the milk out, while others passively collect the milk that would otherwise leak from your breast.

Battery-Powered Breast Pumps

The battery-powered pumps are easy to transport as they do not need electricity. They use a motor to create suction and remove the milk into a collection container. 

Electric Breast Pumps

These pumps require a wall outlet. The electricity powers a motor that creates suction and collects the expressed breast milk into a collection container. 

Some powered pumps are also available in double pumping styles, which can simultaneously remove milk from both breasts. These double pumps are a big time-saver!

Momcozy Mobile Flow™ Hands-Free Breast Pump | M9

Momcozy Mobile Flow™ Hands-Free Breast Pump | M9

Wearable Breast Pumps and Hands-Free Breast Pumps

Both types are powered pumps that allow you to tuck the devices into your bra and go. You can use your hands without holding onto the breast pump parts. The Hands-Free pumps attach to your chest to stay in place without being in your bra. 

What is the Best Breast Pump?

The answer to this question is simple: the best breast pump to get is the one that best fits your needs. There is a wide variety of breast pumps available. If you have trouble deciding the best type, talk to your lactation consultant or obstetrician. Think about these questions before meeting with them so they can look for the features that will work best for you:

  • Will I be pumping often?
  • Where will I use the pump?
  • How much time do I have for each pumping session?
  • What pump can I afford?
  • What pump will my insurance help to cover?

How Do I Use a Breast Pump?

The first step is to read the instruction manual. Studying the manual is crucial, as learning about the pump can save you time as you use it.

After reading the manual, these are the general steps for using your breast pump:

  1. Wash your hands and chest before drying them with a clean towel.
  2. Put the pump together following the instructions.
  3. Find a comfortable place, preferably near an outlet, if you are using an electric pump.
  4. Place the flange (or breast shield) over your breast with the nipple in the middle of the opening. 
  5. Begin pumping, using the instructions to describe how to start the machine.
  6. Continue pumping until the milk flow has dwindled. Continuous pumping may take 10 to 15 minutes per breast.
  7. Break the seal by gently putting your finger between your breast and the flange.
  8. Remove the milk container from the pump. Use the milk immediately or store it in a dated container or bag with the date and amount expressed on it (7). 

Breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for no more than four days or in the freezer for up to 12 months. Use your supply in date order to always use the earliest date first. 

Clean and sanitize your pump according to the directions in the manual provided with it. This step is significant in the baby’s first few months when the immune system builds up resistance to germs.

 

Key Takeaways

Breast milk is best. 

Whether exclusively breastfeeding, exclusively pumping and bottle feeding breast milk, or using a combination of both, your baby and you will gain greater rewards and health outcomes. 

Consider all types of breast pumps before choosing yours.

Choose the type of breast pump that best suits your needs. Contact a lactation consultant or obstetrician if you need help choosing a breast pump. 

Comply with the directions in the user manual for your breast pump machine. 

References

  1. Cummings, Holly. How to Prepare for Breastfeeding in the Month Before Birth. November 2022. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/experts-and-stories/the-latest/how-to-prepare-for-breastfeeding-in-the-month-before-birth#:~:text=The%20last%20month%20of%20pregnancy,ordering%20the%20pump%20any%20earlier.)
  2. Newman, Amy. Breastfeeding 101: Tips for new moms. April 19, 2021. Mayo Clinic Health System. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/breastfeeding-101-tips-for-new-moms
  3. Arthur I. Eidelman, Richard J. Schanler, Margreete Johnston, Susan Landers, Larry Noble, Kinga Szucs, and Laura Viehmann. Breastfeeding, Section On,  Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/129/3/e827/31785/Breastfeeding-and-the-Use-of-Human-Milk.
  4. Cleveland Clinic. “Breastfeeding: How to Start, Benefits & Common Concerns.” June 7, 2021. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from  https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/5182-breastfeeding.
  5. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Breastfeeding Tips for Beginners. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://www.chop.edu/pages/breastfeeding-tips-beginners
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Newborn Breastfeeding Basics. March 21, 2023. Retrieved June 20, 2024, https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/breastfeeding/newborn-breastfeeding-basics.html
  7. Cleveland Clinic. What To Know About Breast Pumps. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2024,         from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/25244-breast-pump
  8. Forbes Health. How To Get A Breast Pump Through Insurance. May 19, 2021. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://www.forbes.com/health/womens-health/how-to-get-a-breast-pump-through-insurance/

 

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