A Beginner's Guide to Using a Breast Pump: Tips and Tricks

Jun 25, 2024by Ali Khan

Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural way to nourish your baby, but it can sometimes be challenging, especially for new mothers. Whether you're returning to work, dealing with latching issues, or simply looking for some flexibility in your feeding routine, a Breast pump can be an invaluable tool. In this guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about using a breast pump, including tips and tricks to make the process easier and more comfortable. We'll also highlight some of the best breast pumps available, including wearable breast pumps, to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding the Basics of Breast Pumping

What is a Breast Pump?

A Breast pump is a device that helps extract milk from a lactating mother’s breasts. It can be used for various reasons, such as storing milk for later use, relieving engorgement, or increasing milk supply. There are different types of breast pumps, including manual, electric, and wearable breast pumps, each with its unique features and benefits.

Types of Breast Pumps

  1. Manual Breast Pumps: These are hand-operated pumps that require you to squeeze a handle to create suction. They are usually lightweight, portable, and less expensive than electric pumps. However, they can be tiring to use, especially for regular pumping sessions.

  2. Electric Breast Pumps: These pumps are powered by electricity or batteries and automatically create suction to extract milk. They are more efficient and easier to use than manual pumps, making them a popular choice for many mothers. Electric pumps can be single (pumping one breast at a time) or double (pumping both breasts simultaneously).

  3. Wearable Breast Pumps: Wearable breast pumps are a relatively new innovation that offers hands-free pumping. These pumps fit discreetly inside your bra, allowing you to pump milk while on the go. They are perfect for busy mothers who need to multitask.

Choosing the Right Breast Pump

Selecting the best breast pump depends on your individual needs and lifestyle. Here are some factors to consider:

Frequency of Use

  • Occasional Use: If you only need to pump occasionally, a manual or single electric pump may suffice.
  • Regular Use: For mothers who plan to pump regularly, a double electric or wearable breast pump is recommended for efficiency and convenience.


  • At Home: If you'll primarily be pumping at home, size and portability may be less of a concern.
  • On the Go: For mothers who need to pump while traveling or working, a compact and portable pump, such as a wearable breast pump, is ideal.


  • Affordable Options: Manual and single electric pumps are generally more affordable.
  • Higher-End Options: Double electric and wearable breast pumps tend to be more expensive but offer more features and convenience.

Tips and Tricks for Using a Breast Pump

Preparing for Pumping

  1. Create a Comfortable Space: Find a quiet, comfortable spot where you can relax while pumping. Having a designated pumping area can help you feel more at ease.

  2. Gather Your Supplies: Ensure you have all the necessary supplies, including your breast pump, clean bottles or bags for milk storage, and a comfortable chair.

  3. Stay Hydrated and Nourished: Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet to support milk production. Keeping snacks and a water bottle nearby can be helpful.

Pumping Techniques

  1. Read the Instructions: Familiarize yourself with your breast pump's instructions and settings. Each pump operates slightly differently, so understanding your specific model is crucial.

  2. Start Slowly: Begin with a low suction setting and gradually increase it as you become more comfortable. High suction settings can be uncomfortable and may not necessarily yield more milk.

  3. Massage Your Breasts: Gently massage your breasts before and during pumping to stimulate milk flow. Using warm compresses can also help.

  4. Pump Regularly: Consistent pumping can help maintain and increase your milk supply. Aim to pump at least every 2-3 hours if you're exclusively pumping or trying to build a stash.

Making Pumping More Comfortable

  1. Use a Hands-Free Pumping Bra: A hands-free pumping bra can hold the pump flanges in place, allowing you to use your hands for other tasks or simply relax.

  2. Adjust the Flanges: Ensure the pump flanges fit properly. Ill-fitting flanges can cause discomfort and reduce milk output. Most pumps come with different flange sizes, so experiment to find the best fit.

  3. Listen to Music or Watch Videos: Distracting yourself with music, videos, or a good book can make the pumping session more enjoyable and help pass the time.

  4. Relax and Breathe: Stress can inhibit milk letdown. Practice deep breathing or meditation techniques to stay calm and relaxed during pumping.

Storing and Handling Pumped Milk

Storage Guidelines

  1. Clean Containers: Always use clean, BPA-free containers or breast milk storage bags to store your milk.

  2. Labeling: Label each container with the date and time of pumping. This helps ensure you use the oldest milk first.

  3. Storage Times: Follow recommended storage guidelines to ensure the milk remains safe for your baby:

    • Room Temperature: Up to 4 hours
    • Refrigerator: Up to 4 days
    • Freezer: Up to 6 months

Thawing and Warming

  1. Thawing Frozen Milk: Thaw frozen milk in the refrigerator overnight or by placing the container in a bowl of warm water.

  2. Warming Milk: Warm the milk by placing the container in a bowl of warm water. Avoid using a microwave, as it can create hot spots and destroy nutrients.

  3. Gently Swirl: Swirl the milk gently to mix any separated fat before feeding it to your baby.

Maintaining Your Breast Pump


  1. After Each Use: Clean all pump parts that come into contact with breast milk after each use. Use warm, soapy water and rinse thoroughly.

  2. Sterilizing: Sterilize pump parts regularly, especially for newborns. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for sterilization.

  3. Air Drying: Allow pump parts to air dry completely before reassembling to prevent mold and bacteria growth.


  1. Regular Checks: Inspect pump parts regularly for wear and tear. Replace any damaged or worn parts to maintain optimal performance.

  2. Motor Maintenance: If using an electric pump, follow the manufacturer's instructions for motor maintenance and storage.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Low Milk Supply

  1. Frequent Pumping: Pump more frequently to stimulate milk production.
  2. Hydration and Nutrition: Ensure you're staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet.
  3. Consult a Lactation Consultant: A lactation consultant can provide personalized advice and support.

Sore Nipples

  1. Proper Flange Fit: Ensure the pump flanges fit correctly to avoid nipple damage.
  2. Lanolin Cream: Apply lanolin cream to soothe sore nipples.
  3. Pumping Technique: Use a lower suction setting and ensure proper alignment of the flanges.

Milk Stagnation

  1. Massage and Warm Compresses: Massage your breasts and use warm compresses to help move milk.
  2. Change Positions: Try different pumping positions to fully empty your breasts.

Best Breast Pumps on the Market

Spectra S1 Plus Electric Breast Pump

The Spectra S1 Plus is a hospital-grade, double electric pump known for its powerful suction and quiet operation. It features a rechargeable battery, making it portable and convenient for travel.

Medela Pump In Style Advanced

The Medela Pump In Style Advanced is a highly efficient double electric pump. It comes with a tote bag, making it easy to transport. It's known for its strong suction and customizable settings.

Willow Wearable Breast Pump

The Willow Wearable Breast Pump is a game-changer for busy moms. It fits inside your bra, allowing for discreet and hands-free pumping. The pump connects to an app that tracks your milk volume and pumping sessions.

Elvie Pump

The Elvie Pump is another popular wearable breast pump that offers a quiet and hands-free pumping experience. It's lightweight, easy to clean, and comes with a companion app for monitoring your sessions.

Lansinoh Signature Pro Double Electric Breast Pump

The Lansinoh Signature Pro offers three pumping styles and eight suction levels, allowing for a customized pumping experience. It's compact and portable, making it a great choice for on-the-go moms.


Using a breast pump can be a valuable tool for many breastfeeding mothers, providing flexibility and convenience. By understanding the different types of breast pumps and following these tips and tricks, you can make your pumping experience more comfortable and efficient. Remember to choose a pump that suits your needs, maintain proper hygiene, and stay consistent with your pumping routine. Whether you opt for a traditional electric pump or a modern wearable breast pump, the key is finding what works best for you and your baby. Happy pumping from ABD Med!