Pumping: How Do I Use a Breast Pump?

While there are many different pumps and brands on the market, they all work much the same way, except for a little more muscle power with the manual version.

In fact, the hardest part about the process might be putting the pump together the first time. After you've figured that out, however, the rest should be straightforward.


Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Try to be in a situation or place where you don't feel rushed or self-conscious.
  • Get into a comfortable sitting position. Much like nursing, pumping takes some time, so you should be comfortable.
  • Sit upright and place the pump breast shield over your breast, centering your nipple on the shield.
  • If your pump is electric turn it on the lowest setting to start, then slowly increase the strength. Most women feel comfortable enough to move the pump strength higher quite quickly, but it's important that you don't feel pain while you're pumping. Always use the strength that's most comfortable for you.
  • After you've reached a comfortable setting, continue pumping for 12 to 15 minutes (that's for double electric pumps).
  • For manual pumps, 20 to 25 minutes should be enough. Remember to switch breasts to get the best yield.

Tips for success:

  • Most importantly, relax and try not to focus on how many ounces you're yielding or how long it's taking.
  • Sometimes it helps to distract yourself by talking on the phone or watching a movie— anything but staring at the bottles watching for the milk.

This information is courtesy of Bravado Designs, the brand synonymous with women's breastfeeding success for 18 years.

Source: Heather Kelly is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) who also sits on the Bravado Breastfeeding Information Council Heather has been practicing in New York City since 2001.

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Heather Kelly
Heather is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
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