Using a breast pump, just like breastfeeding, should not be painful or distressing for a mother. And most women don’t consider either of them all that easy after all. Pumping your breast milk with a breast pump is something that you have to learn how to do correctly, and that can take some time. Unfortunately, if you use your breast pump inaccurately in the interim, it can cause you pain and breast or nipple trauma. Using the right technique will not only prevent this, but it will also help you pump milk from your breasts more efficiently.
Whether you’re just occasionally pumping a few extra ounces of breast milk or you’re pumping several times in a day, you can avoid pain and injury by simply understanding the most common mistakes and learning how to avoid them from our article. Read along to find out!
Keeping It Clean
Constantly wash your hands and your breasts before pumping and make sure your pumping equipment is really clean because you want to keep germs or any contamination away as much as possible. Bacteria and fungus can cause you sore, cracked nipples, thrush, or a breast infection.
Using The Right Pump Flange
The part of the breast pump that goes on your breast and nipple is called the flange, or breast shield. Many women use the standard size flange that comes with the pump, not comprehending that it’s not a fit all kind of product and that many breast pump brands also offer the option to buy extra shields in various sizes.
If you use a pump flange that’s too large, it will not be effective. If you use one that is too small for you, your nipples will rub against the sides instead of being drawn into the inner funnel, which can cause severe sore nipples. Before you go on to use the standard size flange, be sure that it’s the right one for you.
Positioning Your Breast
Once you have the right size flange, make sure that you’re placing your breast inside of it correctly. Your nipple should be perfectly placed in the middle of the flange. If it’s off the center, even by just a little, your nipple may feel and look like it’s been bruised after your session is done.
The Correct Suction and Speed
If you pump breast milk on high suction and at super speed, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get more breast milk or finish pumping more quickly. Alternatively, keep the suction and the speed of the pump on a low. Find a setting that is comfortable and mimics how your baby nurses, which will get your milk flowing nicely. Even if your baby has a really strong suck, it still does not equate to the strength of a pump on high suction.
The high settings can not only be painful to your breasts, but they may actually cause you to get less breast milk.
Avoiding Pumping for Excessive Periods of Time
Pump each breast for almost 10 minutes. If you still get breast milk after that time, you can pump for a longer time (maximum 15 minutes if you pump both breasts simultaneously and 30 minutes if you pump each breast discreetly). Continuing to pump breast milk for longer than the recommended maximum time can cause sore nipples and breasts.
Avoid Bicycle Horn Pumps
Bicycle horn or the bulb style breast pumps are small, portable, hand-operated pumps with rubber bulbs at the end that offer the source of suction. Many women use them to relieve infrequent breast engorgement, but they are not recommended. Since it’s difficult to control the suction of these types of pumps, they can cause damage to your breast tissue and put you at a bigger risk for breast issues such as sore nipples or mastitis. If you like to use small, portable, manual devices, there are safer options, such as pumps with squeeze triggers and regulating suction.
However, if you continue to have the breast pain, sore nipples, or bruising on your breasts while breast pumping, you are advised to make an appointment with your doctor. They can help you treat your breast or nipple trauma related to pumping and instruct you on the proper use of a breast pump. A lactation consultant can also provide you better guidance and assistance. These professionals can teach you how to use a pump correctly and safely and provide you with information and tips on how to get the best results with a breast pump.