For new mothers, using a breast pump can be intimidating. If you're new to pumping and aren't sure how to use a breast pump, it's important to know that the process isn't complicated. Once the pump is assembled (be sure to read the instructions!), all you need to do is:

  1. Place the breast shield over your nipple
  2. Turn the machine on, if it's electric, or squeeze the mechanism if the pump is manual.

While the actual process is simple, it can take practice to feel comfortable with how to breast pump and to produce enough milk to store for your child. Building up a milk supply will allow you to feed your baby with your nutrient-filled breast milk even when you cannot be there in person. Whether you are going back to work or leaving the baby in the care of friends or family, most women find that using a breast pump gives them the feeding flexibility that they need. Read on for six helpful tips for how to use a breast pump if you are new to the process:

1. Follow the Manufacturer's Instruction Manual

Read the pump instructions carefully. Wash your hands and all components of the breast pump thoroughly before you use them. While using a breast pump shouldn't be difficult, check to see if your pump has any special features that you need to be aware of before you start. If you have an electric pump, make sure that your batteries are charged or the power cord is attached tightly and plugged in.

2. Relax

Find a comfortable place in which to pump. Most women find that it's easier to express their breast milk when they are away from distractions and relaxed. Position yourself so that your shoulders are relaxed and your back and arms are supported. Applying a warm compress to your breasts can enhance let-down when using a breast pump, as can massaging the breasts before and during pumping. Be patient, especially when first figuring out how to breast pump. It can take several minutes for your milk to begin to flow, so don't worry if it's not immediate. It's a good idea to practice pumping before you need the milk, and this will get your body used to a breast pump and you'll be more comfortable with the process.

3. Get the Right Fit

Make sure that your pump fits you correctly. Your breast shields should surround the nipple but still allow enough room so that your nipple can move freely. If you are concerned that you might not have the right size, a certified lactation consultant can assist you with determining what breast shield size you need. Hold the shields between your thumb and index finger, and start pumping at the lowest suction level. You can increase the suction and speed until you find a point that is both comfortable and efficient. Pumping should never be painful.

Keep your breast pump parts clean.4. Follow a Routine

Pumping at the same time every day may help your body stimulate more milk flow to satisfy the extra demand. Morning pumping is often recommended, as this is typically when women produce the most milk. Reportedly, looking at their baby has proven to be effective in helping mothers produce more milk. If you're away from your child or concerned about how to use a breast pump more efficiently, try looking at a picture or listening to a recording of your baby while you pump.

5. Clean Your Equipment as Directed

Once you're finished using the breast pump, remove the breast shields. Unscrew the storage containers and secure the lids on them. Wash all of your equipment with warm soapy water and set the pieces out to air dry.

6. Properly Store Your Milk

Once you've figured out how to use a breast pump comfortably, make sure that you're storing the milk you express properly. Make sure that you're using appropriate and sterilized storage containers. Label each container using a waterproof marker with the date the milk was expressed. Place the container in the back of the refrigerator or freezer; it's safe to use refrigerated breast milk for up to five days and milk frozen in your refrigerator's freezer for up to two weeks. If you are away from home, you can temporarily store your breast milk in an insulated breast milk cooler. Breast milk can only be left out at room temperature for four to six hours.

Bonus Tip: Get a New Breast Pump Through Insurance!

Aeroflow Breastpumps has helped mothers all across the country get breast pumps at little or no cost through their insurance. Aeroflow Breastpumps carries the industry’s top leading brands, and we make the ordering process incredibly easy. Start by filling out our Qualify Through Insurance form online today and see how easy it is to get a new breast pump!