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How to Express Milk by Hand

Expressing milk by hand is a skill that can be quite useful in some occasions. I’ve done it a few times on those times when I had to relive breast fullness but din’t have a manual or electric breast pump around.

This way of expressing milk can also be quite useful for moms that don’t get along very well with breast pumps and their plastic parts.

Here I will show you how to express milk by hand.  Practice a bit in your home, even if you have a breast pump, you don’t know if you are going to need it some day!  Remember to follow these steps with care.

Manual Milk Expression Tutorial

The first thing you need to do is massage the breast putting one hand on top and one hand on the bottom of the breast. This will stimulate the milk flow. It is very helpful being relaxed and in a comfortable position because that also influence the milk flow.

If you are stressed out and you are not comfortable, the milk will not come as much as it should.

 

milk-hand-expression

Now grab a glass, sterilize it and put it under the nipple. Use the other hand to grab the breast: put your index finger about an inch above your nipple and the middle finger an inch below. Now press on the area with both fingers, don’t press on the nipple itself. Doing this shouldn’t produce pain, if it does, it means that you are doing it wrong.  The only way to can feel strange -not painful -is when you are just starting to breastfeed.

You can alternate and use your thumb and index fingers if your hand gets tired. Use what feels more comfortable for you.

If you notice that milk isn’t flowing easily, just stop and massage the breast a bit more.  You can also try this out later, when you feel more relaxed.

In the morning you get a better flow of milk, I recommend you do this to make hand expression easier.

Storing the Milk

Once you’ve expressed milk on the glass, you can store it using bottles in the fridge.  Just be sure that all the bottles are correctly labels, with the older ones located on the front.

Milk stored in the back of the refrigerator can last to up to 5 – 8 days. Don’t put it on the door or it will last very few days.  If you want your milk to last longer, you can store it in a standard refrigerator freezer, where it can last up to 6 months.  Be sure to put it on the bak of the freezer though!

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Breast Pumping and Increasing Your Milk Supply

breast-pump-milk-supplyOne of the common problems among breastfeeding moms is not being able to provide as much milk as their baby needs. Most of the times, this can be solved by changing your routine and with the efficient use of a breast pump, it’s very rare that your body is unable to naturally produce the levels of milk your baby needs.

Here we will take a look at some tips and suggestions that will help you increase and recover your natural milk supply using a breast pump. But first, let’s begin wy taking a look at the factors that may be contributing to this issue.

What Causes a Low Supply of Milk?

While there is not a single specific cause as to why you don’t have an adequate milk supply, there are some factors that can contribute to this situation. Let’s take a look at the most common ones, perhaps you can spot those that are holding your supply down.

You may be too stressed. We repeat this many times in our website, the best way to breastfeed and pump is by staying relaxed. However, many moms find this to be very hard to accomplish, especially when they return to their jobs. Working moms have to return home after hours without contact with their babies and on top of that, they start feeling the stress of everyday life, making it difficult to maintain adequate levels of milk.

Sore nipples may keep you from producing milk. The pain you feel in your nipples can be enough to inhibit your body’s milk letdown reflex. I experienced this with my first baby. Sometimes babies bite your nipples hard producing pain, and the truth is that next time you need to breastfeed, you maybe scared of this happening again! Soreness can also be caused by medical conditions such as yeast infections, inverted nipples and tongue tie.

Talk to your doctor, he will recommend an ointment that will help your nipples recover faster from damage.

Breast surgery. If you’ve had breast surgery, there is a chance that you have a decreased milk supply due to damaged mill ducts. Augmentation and reduction can both cause problems, although these problems are more common with breast reduction surgery.

You are not breastfeeding often. Having a regular nursing routine will “train” your breasts to start producing more milk naturally, but if you don’t do it your body will take this as a signal that your baby doesn’t need as much milk. A similar problem can take place if your baby’s sucking strength is not strong enough. As you will see below this can easily be solved with the help of a breast pump.

Ways to Get Milk Supply Up With a Breast Pump

The best way to increase milk supply with pumps is by adding one more breast-pumping session in the day. It is advisable that you do this in the morning, when you have the highest supply of milk throughout the day. You can also vary this and breastfeed your baby in the morning before leaving for work and then add a pumping session when you get to work.

Don’t get too stressed about when to add the pumping session (remember what we said about stress and low milk supply!). There’s no right or wrong rule about adding a pumping session, but it’s your job to find out what feels more comfortable to you.

Another way to increase supply with a breast pump is by removing excess milk after your baby eats, every 2 or 3 hours. Pump after you nurse your baby so you breasts are empty and you send a signal for them to start producing more.

Also be sure to pick a breast pump that has different expression levels and cycles. There are pumps that automatically vary the speed and strength of suction to better mimimc the way a baby sucks milk from your breast.

Additional Resources

Ameda’s “Reaching Full Milk Production with a Breast Pump”. This two-page guide by Ameda gives you a more detailed overview on how to increase and maintain your milk supply with an electric breast pump.

Breast-Feeding: How to Increase Your Milk Supply. A simple guide with tips on how to increase your supply for moms who breast pump and breastfeed. It also has information on how to give your baby extra feedings.

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Breast Pumping Tips and Tricks Every Mom Should Know

These days many working moms are taking advantage of the power of breast pumps to continue providing their babies the benefits of breast milk, even when they are away from home.   But having a breast pump is only part of the equation. You also need to learn how to use it properly.

Here are some breast pumping tips and tricks that will make pumping easier, and help you get more milk in less amount of time without producing any type of discomfort.

Create a routine.  To do this, simply pump at the same time each day in the same way.  When I had to go to work I pumped early in the morning and at night. This routine let me breasts “know” that it was time to pump, stimulating the milk ejection reflex.

Get a hands-free bra.  These are special bras that have been designed to accommodate and hold in place the pumps’ shields and bottles, allowing you to express milk from your breasts while your hands are free to do other things.  The best bras let you even move around without risk of milk spilling on the floor.  A small investment can save literally hours of your time.

Massage your breasts before pumping.  This massage will help you relax and allow a better flow of milk.  I also massaged my breasts when I noticed the flow of milk slowing down, and it was very helpful! The massage must be slow, starting at the armpit and moving slowly down the breast.  Be gentle.

Visualize.  If you have trouble with milk let down, you can always use the power of the mind.  Visualization is a technique that is becoming increaisngly used in many fields, and you can also take advantage of it during your pumping sessions.  Imagine vividly that your breast is producing a good flow of milk, make the image bigger, brighter, more vivid and relax. Don’t force the images to be true, as this makes your body feel tense.

Don’t use the strongest suction since the beginning.  Contrary to what you may think, a stronger suction power won’t make milk come out faster, instead, it can cause discomfort and damage.  The good hing about modern electric breast pumps is that you can fully adjust suction power.  Our advice: start with the lowest setting and start increasing it slowly until you find the ‘sweet spot’.

Label milk bottles.  This is a great tip to keep milk organized when you are trying to build a freezer stash of milk.  Simply buy some labels and stick them to the bottles, writing down the date it was expressed.  Once in the freezer, get accustomed to putting the oldest milk on the front to be used right away.

Avoid boredom and RELAX.  Sitting in one place to pump your breasts regularly can get pretty boring, so it’s better to be prepared and have something with you that will relax you and make time pass faster.  A book is always a good friend, or can bring the iPad with you and use any game, app you ant!

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How Do You Choose a Breast Pump?

If you’ve never used a breast pump, you may have little clue about what to look for when choosing one.  There are some factors that you can keep in mind when picking a breast pump, and you will learn about them in this guide.

The right breast pump is one that provides all the benefits of breast milk to your baby, and at the same time feels effective and comfortable;  this, of course, varies from mom to mom, because each one of us has a different breast size and shape.

In general, you’ll find that the best breast pumps are those that better mimic the natural suckling of your baby, something that allows a better flow of milk.

What to Keep In Mind When Choosing a Breast Pump

Durability – Some breast pumps are sturdier than others and this is a factor that becomes very important if you are going to take your breast pump with you at all times.  Poor quality pumps tend to break easily, some because they fall to the ground, some because well… they simply break! And believe me… it’s a real hassle to have a useless pump when you practically depend on it every single day!

If you are going to pump regularly, several times a day, get a pump designed for this purpose with a strong durable motor and system.

Effectiveness – A good breast pump must have a suckling cycle similar to your baby’s.  Keeping into account that babies suck in average between 45 and 55 times per minute, a pump will be more effective if it is closer to that range.

A low cycling rate will not help you express milk effectively. It will take a longer time to do so and you can end up experiencing pain and discomfort.

It is better to opt for electric breast pumps with auto-cycling settings, which vary the speed and strength of suction to mimic how your baby feeds from your breast.  These pumps are much more gentle and do a great job at stimulating milk letdown.

Comfort – Having customizable speed and strength of suction is very important for a pump to be comfortable, but it also depends on the type of breast shield it includes.

There are brands that only offer one size of shield to accommodate all moms, but we all know that this is simply impossible to do, that’s why big breasted women have a harder time finding a comfortable breast pump. If you have large breasts, look for a pump that offers bigger breast shields.

Noise levels – What many moms don’t know when buying an electric breast pump for the first time, is that some motors can get loud! Even the quietest pumps in the market produce a low humming.

A quieter breast pump will help you when you want to pump discreetly or if you want to pump one breast at night while feeding your baby on the other, prior to go sleeping.

Portability – All manual breast pumps are very comfortable because they are small and fit in any baby bag.  But what about electric breast pumps?  The bigger ones are hospital grade pumps which are heavier and not designed to be portable.

Then in the market of single-user breast pumps we have all sizes of systems, and many of them come with a tote bag or backpack for easy and discreet transportation.  If you are going to take an electric pump with you make sure it is lightweight but durable.

A portable breast pump must work by plugging it directly on the wall and also with a rechargeable battery.

What’s the Difference Between an Open System vs a Closed System?

There’s a lot of debate online and offline about the use of closed or open breast pump systems.  What differentiates the two is that a closed system has a barrier which prevents milk from flowing back into the tubes, something that can lead to mold growth.

An open system is not bad though, it has been proven to be more efficient because it helps the pump compensate for different types of breasts and tissue elasticities. If you take good care of them and follow the cleaning recommendations of the manufacturer, you shouldn’t have a problem with mold growth though.

With this information you can make an informed purchase. In our best breast pump review we take a look at the features of the best brands and see how well they fare in each of these areas.  It’s a great place to get started!

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Best Hospital Grade Breast Pumps 2013

Best Hospital Grade Breast PumpsOf all the types of breast pumps available in the market, hospital grade pumps are the most durable and the ones that provide the best strength of suction. Thanks to the pumping mechanism of these pumps you can improve levels of oxytocin and prolactin, which in turn stimulate the production of milk.

Hospital grade breast pumps are also meant to be used by different users safely, according to the FDA. This is possible thanks to the design of these devices which include a barrier that keeps away contamination. To be used this way though, each mom needs her own milk collection kit.

In general hospital grade pumps do a more effective job at expressing milk, with a better suction and comfort. This comes with a downside though: they are bigger and heavier and not really meant to be carried everywhere like single mom electric breast pumps.

When Should You Use a Hospital Grade Breast Pump?

These types of pumps will be most used by moms who need to pump regularly several times a day and those who need to increase their milk supply.

Doctors also recommend using hospital grade breast pumps to feed premature infants or infants with problems such a cleft palate. It is also an invaluable aid for moms who have twins or multiple babies.

They are also helpful in companies that provide moms an office lactation room.

Top Medical Grade Breast Pumps

Medela Symphony Plus Hospital Grade Breast Pump

Medela Symphony Plus

This is the most advanced breast pump developed my Medela.  The Symphony Plus reduces drastically the time you spend expressing milk. It includes Medela’s proprietary 2-Phase Expression, which varies the strength and rhythm of the pumping system to imitate the natural sucking rhythm of your baby.

It also includes a program card, which you use to save your pumping settings, so you can have everything auto-adjust in just a few moments. It works with direct current or with a rechargeable battery pack.

Ameda Elite Electric Breast Pump

Ameda Elite Hospital Grade

The Elite is Ameda’s bet on hospital grade breast pumps, and is widely used by moms in hospitals across America. It includes a piston-driven motor that is controlled thanks to micro-processor technology. Each woman using the Elite needs a HygieniKit Milk Collection System which will allow them to pump safely, completely free of viruses and bacteria.

This breast pump is effective and very durable. The micro-chip technology helps you easily change the strength and speed settings of your pump.  The machine itself is not as big as other similar pumps, which makes it a more portable option.

Spectra Baby USA Dew 350 Advanced

Spectra Dew 350

I was really surprised when I first tested out the Spectra baby USA Dew 350 Advanced an effective and very portable hospital grade breast pump.  At just a fraction of the cost of the previous models, the 350 does a great job at expressing milk safely and comfortable with fully customizable options.

If you are a working mom and need to pump several times a day, you can buy one of these instead of renting a bigger machine.  The machine’s power really show its shine when you use it with a single breast shield, it loses a bit of suction power with the dual shield.

While I don’t think it is as good as a bigger hospital grade breast pump, the results come really close, and considering the price that’s saying a lot!

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Where to Buy Ameda Breast Pumps

Ameda is one of the most well-known breast pump brands out there, and in particular, the Ameda Purely yours has become one of the preferred models of electric breast pumps by moms who need to express milk regularly.

On the other hand, the company has also revolutionized the market of manual breast pumps with an innovative and award-winning design that helps you pump milk comfortably using one hand.

But where do you buy an Ameda breast pump?

If there isn’t a specialized store in your area, your best bet is to buy one online, and from what we’ve been seeing, Amazon has great discounts. Let’s take a look at them!

Ameda Purely Yours

This is a light, yet powerful double electric breast pumps that you can use at home or take it with you to express milk in a very short amount of time.  You can find it with or without a tote bag, so the choice depends on you and perhaps on your budget.

But what’s interesting is that Amazon is currently offering the Purely Yours with an incredible 34% discount AND is available for free shipping! So in the end, instead of paying $287 (for the model with tote-bag), you end up paying just $189.

If you prefer to have just the collection kit without the tote-bag,it costs you $225 BUT with Amazon’s 34% discount you end up paying just $148.97.

Ameda One Hand Breast Pump

By taking a look at ti you may doubt this is a good manual breast pump, but in fact it is one of the most effective and comfortable pumps we’ve tried!  The unique design allows you to express milk using just one hand, so if you buy two of these you can manually pump both of your breasts at the same time!

You can buy the Ameda one hand breast pump online, but this time Amazon doesn’t offer a discount, perhaps because manual pumps are already at an  affordable price! It costs $34.99.

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When to Breast Pump When Breastfeeding

Okay, so you are planning to buy a breast pump, or you may have already bought one! What’s next? You need to know when to use the breast pump when you are breastfeeding.  This, of course, varies from case to case, so here let me share with you at what moment it is better to start using the device.

After Breastfeeding to Empty Your Breasts

I recommend moms that if there’s still milk on the breast after they have finished breastfeeding, it is a good idea to express what’s left with a breast pump.  During the first days of your baby and later down the line it can help you reduce breast engorgement.

Breast engorgement is a serious issue, because if you have this problem for a prolonged amount of time, you can end up suffering from mastitis, a rather painful breast tissue inflammation!

In The Mornings and at Night to Build A Supply of Milk

Moms who need to go to work can take advantage of the mornings and nights to ensure the baby is well-fed while they are away from home.  You can feed your baby on one breast while pumping the other at night, just be sure that the pump you choose isn’t too noisy!

In the mornings I recommend using a breast pump bra which will help you express milk completely hands-free while you are getting ready for work. It’s a great way to save even more time!

After or Before Breastfeeding to Increase Milk Production

When the breasts are empty, your body receives a signal that makes them produce more milk.  Using a breast pump can help solve the problems of millions of women who complain of having a low supply of milk.

Another alternative is to use the breast pump before breastfeeding, so when your baby starts sucking the nipple, it sends a signal to the brain to stimulate milk production.  This is a rather drastic way of increasing your milk supply that seems to work for many moms out there.

If You Pump Milk Occasionally…

If you are a stay at home mom who needs to go out occasionally, then just make sure you pump your milk with enough time and plan ahead how much milk your baby will need, and try to express some more just in case.

Stay at home moms don’t need to necessarily get an electric breast pmp. a manual pump is good enough for the job and has a really affordable price.

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Discount Medela Breast Pumps 2013

Medela breast pumps are usually on the high-side, when it comes to prices, and not many moms can afford to spend more than $300 in one of these devices, that otherwise would be incredibly helpful!

Luckily, online we can find huge discounts that considerably lower down the cost of buying a brand new Medela pump.  Here we will take a look at the discounts you can find online.

Medela Pump In Style Discount

Amazon is currently offering a whopping 29% discount on the Pump In Style, which lowers the price from $349.99 to $249.99.  This is great news, as the PIS is one of the best pumps out there for working moms or moms who don’t have enough time to properly breastfeed their babies throughout the day.

The Pump In Style includes all the accessories of the pumping system along with a black tote bag or backpack for easy and discreet transportation.

Medela Freestyle Breast Pump

The Medela Freestyle is a lighter and more portable model of double electric breast pump, which is perfect if you are constantly on the go and can’t carry the heavier Pump In Style.  Amazon is also offering a discount on the Freestyle.

This 15% discount lowers the price of the pump from $379.99 to $322.99

Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump

If you are looking for a manual breast pump to help you express milk occasionally, the Harmony is a great choice.  Manual pumps are usually much cheaper than electric breast pumps. This one has a list price of $34.99, but Amazon is offering a 29% discount, so you end up paying $24.69.

The Medela Harmony is one of the best manual breast pumps in the market, however you won’t want to use it on a daily basis or to build a freezer stash of milk, because it can be tiring on your hands after prolonged use.

As you can see, there are great discounts to be found online on Medela breast pumps and accessories, plus you can also opt for free shipping, which lowers down the costs even more! If you know of other discounted Medela breast pumps, drop us a line!

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Why Do You Need a Breast Pump?

why-use-breast-pumpBreast pumps have become one of the most helpful devices for moms, especially for those returning to work with not enough time to directly breastfeed their babies.  That’s not to say that stay at home moms won’t find them useful – they too need to express milk once in a  while on those days when they will be away from home!

If you are a new mom, you might not know what are the benefits of using a breast pump and in what situations their help can be invaluable. Don’t worry, in this article you will learn a little bit more about them, and will see how buying one can be an excellent investment.

They Help You Build a Stash of Milk

By pumping regularly, you could be building your own freezer stash of milk, which can be used while you are away from home.  We’ve already gave here some tips about how to build your stash, so you can head there to learn more about the topic.

In this aspect, electric breast pumps are the best option because they help express milk fast, regularly and without fatiguing your hand.

They Help You Reduce Breast Engorgement

Moms suffer from breast engorgement when the baby sucks less milk than what they are producing, especially during the first days.

In those case, to avoid any potential health problems it is advisable to pump out the excess milk.  In particular you should take care against mastitis, an inflammation of the mammary gland or breast tissue that appears when you suffer from engorgement during a prolonged amount of time.

They Help You Increase Milk

It has been proved that frequent double pumping can indeed help you increase your milk supply. By pumping the excess milk after breastfeeding you’ll also make sure your breasts continue producing milk as the body will receive the “signal” that they are empty.

Some moms prefer to express milk before breastfeeding, to stimulate the production of more milk, but that is not necessary except in special circumstances.

They Help You Take Care of Other Things (Work, Meetings, etc)

By pumping regularly and building a stash of milk, you will be able to get back to work or to study, without having to resort on expensive formula, which has less quality and benefits than breast milk.

I used a double electric breast pumps in the morning when I had to return to my job.  These types of pumps can save hours of your time. With the help of a breast pump bra you can even pump mil completely hands-free!

Stay at home moms will also need to be out of home form time to time  In those case cases a manual breast pump can help you express milk to have it stored for a few hours until you can get back home and continue breastfeeding your baby.

They Help Babies With Special Needs

There are cases when a baby can’t directly breastfeed, such in the case of babies with cleft palate.  A breast pump will help express milk so you can properly feed your baby.  I would say that in these cases a breast pump is a must-have aid!

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Get Rid of Medela Pump In Style Tubing Mold

breast pump tubing moldThe Medela Pump In Style is one of the best breast pumps on the market: it is very fast, effective and capable of imitating your baby’s way of sucking milk perfectly with their proprietary expression technology, which allows a comfortable pumping session.  As a matter of fact, it still retains the top spot in our best breast pump picks!

But despite the usefulness and features of this electric breast pump, one of the problems moms experience when using it is the building up of mold in the tubes after continued use. Here we will take a look at why tubing mold appears and how you can prevent it to make the most of the Pump In Style.

Do All Moms Experience a Molding Issue With Medela Tubing?

No, this is a problem that only some moms using the PIS experience. The truth is that many others can pump without having to deal with molding, even with a lot of pumping sessions per day!

Even though you can notice condensation appear on the tubes, this doesn’t necessarily leads to mold growth.  Condensation can be wiped out just by following a few steps after each use, as you’ll see later on.

From what we’ve researched by talking to other moms and from our experience, this seems to be an hygienic issue caused by not cleaning and sterilizing your Medela Pump In Style parts properly.

Why Does Tubing Become Moldy?

The Pump In Style uses what is called an “open pump system”. This means that the system doesn’t prevent milk from flowing back into the tubes. There’s no barrier that isolates the collection kit from the pumping system.

With continued use, there’s a possibility that particles of milk start getting into the tubes, especially if don’t take the necessary steps to clean it after each use. Over time, mold will start forming , clogging the tubes and in extreme cases, the motor.

Despite what you may think, having an open system is not a bad thing. This type of pumping system can make your milk expression efforts more efficient, helping the pump compensate for tissue elasticities and different sizes / shapes of breasts.

How to Clean a Medela Pump In Style and Prevent Mold Growth

As I said earlier on in this article, this problem can be avoided by taking the needed time to sterilize and clean very well your breast pump after each use.  That shouldn’t be a big deal, as cleaning and sterilizing is something that you need to do anyway to make sure that there is no bacteria or viruses inside your collection kit.  Cleaning a pump can take a few minutes off your time, but your baby will thank you.

To clean the Pump In Style, take apart all the parts of the pump and wash them using soapy water. If you decide to use a dishwasher, put the parts on the top rack and then use a nipple brush to get on tiny crevices.

Once your pump has been washed either by hand or dishwasher, you need to sanitize it. This is done by boiling water and then placing the parts in it for 10 minutes.  You can also speed things up in the microwave with the help of a Medela Quick Clean Micr-Steam bag.

You should also check the tubing regularly to make sure it is in good condition.  If you find that there is some condensation, simply let the breast pump on and running for a minute or two, completely detached from the pump kit, this will clear the tubes.

I’ve heard from some people saying that you can use alcohol, but Medela advises against this, because next time you use the pump, you can blow back alcohol fumes.  The instruction manual of the PIS is a great help to follow all the cleaning procedure.

TIP: Avoid leaning forward when using the PIS, as this easily leads to milk overflow.

Can I Buy Pump In Style Replacement Tubing?

Yes, as a matter of fact, Medela enocurages doing this if mold has formed. From the manual:

“If tubing becomes moldy, discontinue use and replace tubing. Contact Medela Customer Service at customer.service@medela.com or 1-800-435-8316”

If you prefer, you can also online find Medela tubing replacements from other companies which are fully compatible with the Pump In Style and are made of safe BPA-free material.

Check out these Medela tubing options on Amazon. They’re usually around $8 – $10, just make sure the tubing has been designed for the model you are using right now.

Having a clean pump is the best way to ensure your baby is getting the best nutrition in a safe way.

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