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Breastfeeding and Pumping: A Newborn Primer

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 3

Mothers of newborns are naturally equipped with everything their baby needs for nourishment. But contrary to popular belief, moms of newborns aren't immediately bursting with breast milk post-labor. Truth is, the first milk is produced in such small amounts that moms may notice just a few drops of it in a feeding. And this is where pumping comes in… using a breast pump can help speed up a mother's milk production, especially in the critical first few days of a newborn's life. Getting your milk production up will help keep your baby full and happy, and will also give you the peace of mind knowing that you're giving your baby the purest and best possible food on earth… your milk!

Things You Will Need

Breast Pump

Step 1

Choose the right breast pump for you.

There are several big-brand breast pumps out on the market. But purchasing a breast pump is like a hunt for the perfect LBD (little black dress)… there can only be ONE. That's why you need to try and fit on the breast pump before you can really know which one suits you. Each Mom will respond differently to each breast pump. What may feel comfortable to one mom can be painful to another.

Hospitals usually offer to rent out breast pumps. Be sure to ask your hospital or your labor and delivery nurse about the breast pumps they offer. You can try different breast pumps in the comfort of your own post-partum room, then rent and bring home the breast pump of your choice. Once you've found the pump that feels just right to you, you can purchase your breast pump online or from local retailers. Popular brands include Ameda, Medela, and Avent.

Step 2

Breastfeed your newborn every 2 – 3 hours in a 24-hour period.

Newborns have small tummies and need to be fed more frequently. Also, the more often you breastfeed, the more milk your breasts will produce. It may feel like you're nursing your baby non-stop, but this is an important time for you both to practice this essential skill.

Step 3

If your milk has not "come in" yet, pump after each breastfeeding (every 2 – 3 hours in a 24-hour period).

A mother's milk supply increases significantly about 3 – 5 days after birth. Pumping after each breastfeeding will help increase the amount of milk you produce.

Step 4

Store your pumped breast milk.

Expressed breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 5 months.

Step 5

Keep a log of breastfeedings and baby's wet and soiled diapers.

A daily log will help you monitor whether baby is getting enough to eat… and there's an app for that! iPhone users can find several convenient apps that can help track baby's feedings and diapers. You can also easily print sample logs from the internet.

Don't give up!

Breastfeeding a newborn takes lots of patience. It's a skill that needs practice, practice, and more practice! So hang in there, and be persistent with baby on breastfeeding. The benefits for both you and baby are truly invaluable!

If you feel you need some guidance with breastfeeding your newborn, reach out to your local hospital or pediatrician's office for a Lactation Consultant. A Lactation Consultant can help you with various breastfeeding positions and breastfeeding issues.

Tips & Warnings

Engorged breasts feel hard, heavy, and painful, while the skin is red and hot. Engorgement usually occurs when a feeding is missed (such as when a baby suddenly sleeps through the night). This can be prevented by making sure that your baby feeds frequently and empties your breasts at each feeding (breastfeed 8 – 12 times every 24 hours). You can also use your breast pump to relieve fullness before breastfeeding your baby.


Jan 10, 2011 8:36pm
hi lees!
thanks for this article and the carefully written steps =)

although i personally don't believe in pumping the first few months-- just a preference i guess.
but yes, any stimulation will increase milk production be it via pump or direct feeding; i just prefer that baby gets to know milk source is from me; and vice versa, that my body gets to know stimulation is from baby =)

with my 1st, i didn't have any drops until day4. with my 2nd, i was dripping at 37weeks pregnant coz i was more nourished and taking natalac supplements.

thanks for sharing =)
keep on writing!!
Jan 10, 2011 9:06pm
Thank you for being a breastfeeding advocate. Breastfeeding is definitely the best. In fact, my 3rd girl had an infection at birth and had to stay in the new born ICU for 7 days. I breastfed her exclusively, going to the hospital every 2 to 3 hours and the pedia was very amazed that she recovered and got well in less than a week. One tip also for moms whose nipples are very sore or start to crack or dry up due to the excessive breastfeeding, after each session, express a little milk and rub it around the nipple area. I felt it was better than putting vit E or lanolin. Thanks for your article, Lisa.
Jan 11, 2011 5:33am
I did have a hard time expressing milk post delivery on my first child. Nothing was coming out. I tried everything, breast pump included. But now, being a mother of 4 breastfed kids, experience has taught me that what work best is massaging my breast and nipple to stimulate production of milk. Pressing warm cloth on the breast works for me too. I would start this a week before expected delivery date. The thing is, what may work for me may not work for others. And this is where we mothers should equip ourselves the best way possible by reading and researching what will work best for each of us. Thanks for the article lisa. I love breast pumps, it does come in handy whenever I have to leave the house for some time and whenever my breasts get engorged.TIP: when the nipple is sore from constant feeding, change baby’s position or angle so that baby won’t suck on sore spots.
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