Lorna C. Aliperti, APRN, IBCLC

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Pumping Ideas

Which Pump?

For more than occasional pumping, most women prefer the Medela or Ameda hospital grade rental pumps, Medela Pump in Style or Ameda Purely Yours. For intermittent pumping, Medela’s Harmony hand pump and the Isis are good.

How To’s

If the baby isn’t breastfeeding, pump approximately 8 times a day, including one pumping at night—between 12am and 5am—when prolactin levels are highest (prolactin is the milk-production hormone). Frequent pumping is most important during the first two to three weeks because prolactin receptors are being established.

Pumping both breasts at the same time increases prolactin levels—and saves time. Pumping time can vary from 5-20 minutes total or on each side if you are single pumping. Give yourself time to get used to the pump—you may only get a little the first times you try. Don’t stare at the pump and worry about how much you’re getting. This can slow your flow– try to relax–watch TV or read, whatever works for you.

Use a heating pad or shower before pumping to help open the milk ducts. Try massaging your breasts with olive oil before pumping—this can promote letdown and reduce friction from the pump.

Once a day, to fully empty your breasts, pump—then take a break or even a shower—and pump once more for five minutes. This will protect against plugged ducts and help keep your supply up.


It is not necessary to wash the kit every time (for a healthy full term baby). Put the parts in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator between pumpings. Wash once a day. Hands free pumping is easier. You can buy products such as the Easy Expression Bustier, cut holes in an old sports crop top or pregnancy bra (mark and cut out over the nipples), or use rubber bands to help keep them in place. This will leave you free to adjust vacuum, compress and massage the breasts for extra let-down or to manage plugged ducts, or read, go online, etc.

Most women produce more milk in the morning and less in the late afternoon and evening. If the breast shield on the pump is uncomfortable, you may need a different size—Medela has several breast shield sizes larger and one smaller than the one that comes with the pump. These are called Personal Fit Breastshields. They also have SoftFit breastshields that are flexible and promote letdown which some moms prefer.

If your baby isn’t removing milk effectively, keep nursing times short or skip them. You won’t be able to pump in addition to nursing for extended periods eight or more times a day. It is milk removal that increases supply.

Soapy Milk

Before storing more than a few bottles of milk, test one frozen bag or bottle.  Occasionally women have high levels of lipase in their milk, an enzyme which can make it taste soapy or unpleasant after it is stored.  This is fine if baby drinks it, but if your baby rejects the milk, you can scald it–heat to approximately 180 degrees or until bubbles appear around the edge of the pan before storing to solve this problem.  More information can be found here:  “When stored milk smells soapy or rancid”,   Or in this helpful article from a mom who dealt with the problem herself — “Battling and Resolving Excess Lipase”

Increasing supply

Power Pumping

Power pumping is used to increase the mother’s milk supply. It simulates the stimulus that a natural growth spurt puts on the breast—more vigorous, more frequent and longer suckling to trigger increased release of prolactin from the pituitary gland. It can be repeated as often as once every seven days and usually produces extra milk within 48 hours of finishing one cycle.

  • Pick one hour, three days or nights in a row.
  • Pump 10 minutes then rest 10 minutes.
  • Pump another 10 minutes, then rest 10 minutes.
  • Pump an additional 10 minutes.
  • This provides approximately 30 minutes of pumping in a 50 minute period.

Power Pumping Boot Camp

Some moms prefer to concentrate their efforts for a few days and power pump at every pumping before returning to their regular pumping schedule.