Breast pump and Expression basics

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Hey, mama if you are getting ready to kick start your milk supply treasure house, I am here to give you the what-is-what with pumping I like to consider myself a mama of pumping/expressing breastmilk. So, the info here is from experience, research and learning the hard way until I got it the right way. Here goes with the full 100 of breastmilk expression. Just to get it out there, this is me talking to you as a mum which means the tone will be informal; you and me talking things through. So, let us cut to the chase.

The topic of how to go about starting your pumping (expressing of your breastmilk) journey will be taken in stages. They are as follows:

  • What to look for in a pump

  • Preparation for expressing your milk

  • Do’s and don’ts of pumping

  • Pumping basics

Before you can start pumping you need the right equipment. There are three different methods of expressing breastmilk: hand, manual, and electric. Each has there place and really depends on your needs.

By hand —if you plan on pumping occasionally this method is effective and less costly, but it takes more time so it’s not suitable for the long haul.

Manual —this method requires you operating the pump yourself with the milk coming out when you pump. A manual pump is more cost effective and does well if your pumping needs will be minimal. Remember to always read the manufacturer’s instructions before using.

Electric —this method is the more costly of the three but it has some super benefits that makes it worth the expense.

Here are the key features with choosing an electric pump:

  • The pump should have a massage mode as it helps to stimulate your breast and helps with the let-down reflex.

  • A double breast pump is also good to get because it will allow you to pump from both breasts at the same time which is a plus for a working mum who may pump at work.

  • The pump should also be quiet as this will give you the freedom to pump at any hour and also on the job. The building doesn't have to know it is your pump time.

  • It should also be portable; this will give you great flexibility to pump on the go, and the freedom to do so in any room in your home.

  • The pump should be a closed system. You do not want a situation of the milk backflowing; this is not hygienic. It also demands more of your time with cleaning and maintenance.

  • You should be able to select the speed you wish to pump at.

  • The pump should cycle similar to how a baby would feed at the breast, that is, suck and release as quickly as a baby does, approximately every one to two seconds.

An electric pump like Minbie’s makes it easier to start a pumping program and maintain it. This makes pumping less demanding, and the Minbie pump has all the features listed above. Important to keep in mind always read the manufacturer’s instructions before using.

Preparation for pumping

You will need to set the stage to start the action:

Start Clean —hygiene is key, wash your hands before and after pumping. Ensure that your equipment and the area you may rest your bottles or bags are clean.

Choose a comfortable spot and position —select an area that is private where you can be relaxed. (This is better for stimulation of your let-down reflex). You should also have a comfortable chair available that can support your arms and back.

Prepare your environment and your body —set up what you will need for your session: pump, bottles or bag, rag for drips. Have a drink of water and a snack too in case you get hungry, plus your phone. Maybe have some music or a movie going and take that potty break before starting if necessary.


Patience —when you first start it may take some practice, so give yourself time to learn the skill. Don’t wait until your breast is so full they are engorged. This can be very uncomfortable and will make it more difficult to express.

Pick your time —your milk production will have a cycle once breastfeeding is well established. Usually, your flow keeps pace with the times you normally breastfeed your baby so try for these times when at work. You can also set a pattern by pumping the same time each day. Any time between midnight and 4 am is also good because this is when prolactin is at its highest making for a better milk supply. Sleep should not be compromised if you feel the need to sleep over pumping. Babies much prefer a healthy mum to a pumped out mum.

The do’s and don’ts


Never ignore discomfort —expression should not hurt so if you feel pain when using the pump stop and make the necessary adjustment to the suction, speed, or the placement of the cups.

Don’t pump new milk on top of older milk even if it is the same day. Use a fresh bag or bottle, you can combine the milk for feeding but you should allow the new milk to cool before doing so.

Don’t start pumping before giving birth. This can send you into early labour because it may stimulate hormones that tell your body that it’s time to push that little one out.


When to pump after feedings?

A good schedule to go with is 30-60 minutes after nursing or about an hour before your next breastfeeding session.

When away from baby try expressing the times that your baby would normally feed.

Try to maintain a balanced diet and also drink enough water for hydration.

Use the right breast pump and use it correctly


Expression/pumping basics

How long after you pump can you breastfeed?

Many moms get the most milk first thing in the morning. Pump between breastfeeding, either 30-60 minutes after nursing or at least one hour before breastfeeding. This should leave plenty of milk for your baby at your next feeding. If your baby wants to breastfeed right after breast pumping, let them!

When should you start?

Two things to work with:

One:  if you are not able to have your baby directly on your breast in the early days after birth, it is important to begin expressing as soon as you are able, and as often as your newborn would feed (about 8-12 times in a 24 hour period).  If your breasts become engorged, this is another time to begin pumping so as to help your baby attach.

Two: when you have established a good milk supply and your baby is nursing well at the breast, this is a good time to start pumping. Plus waiting until then may be easier because you would have gotten over the newness of motherhood and feel more settled after the birthing.

Can you pump and breastfeed at the same time?

You can pump one breast while nursing on the other if you want to increase your milk production and the amount you need for storage.

How often should you pump when breastfeeding and for how long?

A pumping session generally takes around 10 to 15 minutes if you're pumping both breasts at the same time. If you pump one breast at a time this may take between 20 to 30 minutes. It can be done half an hour after a feeding or one hour before a feeding several times a day depending on how much you need for storage.

Should you pump until empty?

If you are a good producer with a great milk supply, you can pump only what you need. You don’t have to empty your breasts. If you are looking to increase your milk production you can pump until the milk stops (up to 20 minutes).

How long to go without pumping?

You don’t have to put yourself on the clock with a strict regimen. The thing to remember is to not go longer than 5-6 hours without pumping in the first few months.

Storage tips:

Up to six hours at room temperature no more than 25 degrees C

Up to 24 hours in an ice box

Up to five days in the back of the fridge at 4 degrees C or colder. Don’t store near meat or anything that can contaminate the milk

Two weeks in a fridge’s freezer compartment

Six months in a freezer at minus 18 degrees C or lower

I hope this information will help you as you continue in your expressing and breastfeeding journey. Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line at Minbie should you have any questions or just need to talk.


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