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Breast Pumps: Using More Often While Nursing Promotes Lactation & Storing Breast Milk for your Infant

How Does a Breast Pump Work?

Breast pumps work by creating suction, so that when the pump is applied to the breast, the milk is pulled from the nipple and into a storage container. Like all appliances, you can choose between slower and faster models; the price you pay will reflect the bells and whistles of the model you choose. If you think you will be needing to bottle feed your baby either breast milk or formula, start teaching her about bottles early on: make sure to include a bottle feeding once every day or two so your child can get used to drinking from a bottle as well as from the breast, and you'll have fewer problems with changing from breast to bottle later on.

How to Find the Best Breast Pump for You

There are a few considerations besides cost that will probably influence your choice of breast pumps. You will want a pump that works comfortably and efficiently and that's easy to assemble and clean. Comfort is a big issue: look for a pump with adjustable suction pressure, so you can tone it down if it hurts when you use it. The fact is that everyone's nipples are sensitive, but we all have different levels of sensitivity, so you want to be able to control the amount of pressure behind the pump. You can also buy specially sized breast pads that will increase your comfort when pumping, and hot or cold pads that fit inside your bra after pumping to ease soreness.

Efficiency is also an issue. Some people prefer hand pumps because they're quiet and they allow the user to pump one breast while feeding the baby from the other. This saves time because your letdown reflex is already engaged for better milk flow, and you're nursing anyway, so you don't have to take time from another activity to pump. On the other hand, some electric breast pumps are equipped with a system that lets you pump both breasts at the same time, and since electric pumps can also work pretty fast, you can fully empty both breasts, keeping milk production at its highest. With a single-breasted electric or battery operated pump, you can expect it to take around 30 minutes to pump your breasts.

Battery operated pumps can be used by women on the go, since they don't need to be plugged in, but much depends on your organizational capacities. If you're the kind of person who always has a store of fresh batteries in a drawer, you might do just fine with a battery-operated pump. If you're the sort who can't find the pump each morning, let alone the batteries, you might prefer another method of powering the pump.

How Often and How Long Can I Pump and Store Breast Milk

Like nursing, if you pump your breasts often, you'll get the most from your milk flow. Experts say the best time to pump your breasts is in the morning, when milk flow is highest, but since most women pump their breasts because of scheduling difficulties, you can do it any time it works for you. Make sure you have adequate cold storage for milk pumped away from home: use a small cooler with dry ice to keep the milk cold until you can get it home to the fridge or freezer.

Babies only take a few ounces of milk at a time, and most women produce plenty of breast milk to feed their infants. Breast milk can stay at room temperature for up to ten hours, or if you have plenty on hand, you can get it into the freezer within an hour, where it will safely keep for months. If your freezer keeps ice cream hard, you can expect stored breast milk to last six months, but make sure you label the freezer bag with the date so you can check it. Also, when storing breast milk in freezer bags, don't fill them all the way to the top: only freeze a single feeding portion at a time, because once it comes out of the freezer and thaws, it won't stay useful for long—about 30 minutes.

Continue reading more information about How to Stop Breast Feeding

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