A breast pump is a machine that removes milk from your nipples to make it easier for you to give it to your baby in a bottle. It can help you keep your milk supply up when you are away from your baby for work or other reasons. You can store pumped milk in the refrigerator or freezer for later use. Some health insurance plans cover the cost of a breast pump.
A manual pump has a breast shield (flange) that fits over your nipple. You squeeze a lever to create suction that helps milk come out. A manual pump requires more effort than electric pumps and takes longer to use, but it is low-cost and portable. You can also get a double-electric pump that works on both breasts at once, which is more efficient and may increase your milk production.
If you plan to return to work after maternity leave, it’s good to start using your breast pump a couple weeks before you go back. That will give your body time to adjust to the new demand for milk and to practice using your pump.
Before you start pumping, wash your hands and all parts of the pump to prevent infection. You should also sterilize the breast pump and bottle before each use. Never buy or borrow a used breast pump, as bacteria and viruses from the previous owner can remain in the controls of the pump. You can buy a breast pump at baby supply stores, your local hospital, or online. You can also check with your local government or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) to see if you qualify for a free pump. breast pump