Pumping Breast Milk: a detailed guide

Pumping Breast Milk might be a part of the breastfeeding journey, or it can’t be present at all. I will share in this article some tips that will make pumping breast milk and storing it easier.

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Sally Al Beer
Published on:Aug 18th 2022 |Updated on:Apr 10th 2024
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Is pumping breast milk necessary

With the wide use of breast pumps, and so many moms talking about using them. Many new mothers started believing that pumping is an essential step in breastfeeding. While emptying the breast through direct feeding is better than depending on pumps. However, pumping breast milk can be helpful in the following cases.

- Separation

If the mother and baby must be separated because of the mom’s return to work, travel, or because the mom is sick. In such cases, pumping will save the day and will ensure the continuation of breastfeeding.


- Difficulty in latching

Sometimes babies have difficulty in latching into the breast, which impedes direct feeding, but pumping breast milk and feeding it to the baby through a bottle would be an excellent alternative while continuing to offer the breast until the baby latches properly.

- Nursing strike

In a previous article, I talked about nursing strikes. If such a strike happens, pumping would be great to ensure that the baby continues to receive breast milk.

- Increasing milk supply

Many mothers resort to pumping to increase their milk supply and breast stimulation. Which have proven to be effective.

- The father’s involvement

Sometimes dads want to be part of the breastfeeding journey as well. In this case, pumping the mom’s milk and having the father feed it to the baby through a bottle is a great idea. It is a win-win situation for all! The baby gets the benefits of breast milk, the dad takes part in this lovely experience, and the mom gets to rest for a while.

- The mom’s desire

Sometimes a mother wants to mix between direct feeding and bottle feeding. So she pumps her milk and gives it to her baby through a bottle.

- Breastfeeding issues

Issues like inverted, or flat nipples might make direct feeding hard. So pumping is a great solution to feed a hungry baby until direct feeding is possible.

Different types of breast pumps

Many new moms wonder whether a manual or an electric breast pump is better. The truth is that the answer depends on the reason the pump is used for. If pumping is a solution only when the mother must go out and leave her baby, then a manual breast pump will do. If the mom needs to pump daily because she needs to go to work, or has an infant in the NICU, then the electric pump is best.

Tips to make pumping breast milk easier

1- Choosing the right cone size

Choosing the appropriate cone is essential for efficient and easy pumping. If the cone of the pump is too small, it will cause nipple pain and infection. And if it is too big it will be painful and will render pumping less effective. I recommend that a mom try several sizes before deciding on the appropriate one. An appropriate cone is the one that will fit the nipple without squeezing it. Most breast pumps come with different cones, allowing moms to choose, and if the right cone isn’t found one can be ordered from the manufacturer.

2- Pumping in comfort

The mother must be comfortable, and relaxed while pumping. Her back and arms must be supported. It is also recommended to watch the baby, look at his picture, listen to his voice, or feel his scent, these things increase Oxytocin levels that help in increasing milk supply.

3- Having food and water

I recommend having a bottle of water next to the mom while pumping. In addition to some nutritious snacks, such as nuts give the mom more energy and help her fight the thirst and hunger she might experience while pumping.

4- Breast massaging

Massaging the breasts before and during pumping helps increase the milk supply.

5- Breast compressing

Compressing the breast while pumping helps to empty the breast which makes pumping go faster.

What is the duration of pumping breast milk?

Mothers often ask me whether to pump for fifteen minutes or half an hour. The truth is that the appropriate duration is the one that takes the breasts to empty. However, if the mom is pumping to increase the milk flow, then I recommend she continues pumping for a few more minutes after the breasts are emptied.

Tips to store breast milk

- Breast milk can be stored at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours.

- It can be kept in a cooling box or cooling bag for 24 hours.

- breast milk can be kept inside the fridge (not on the fridge door) for 3 to 5 days.

- It can be kept in the freezer for 3 to 6 months.

Tips to store pumped breast milk

- Use small containers to store breast milk in the fridge or freezer to avoid wasting any milk.

- When freezing breast milk, the container must not be filled, as milk will increase in volume when frozen.

- Write the date of storage to know the validity.

- Thawing frozen breast milk must be done slowly, by letting it thaw in the fridge overnight before use. Then it can be warmed using a bottle warmer or by placing the container in warm water.

- Breast milk must be never warmed in a microwave oven. It kills the good elements found in breast milk; it also doesn’t warm the milk equally causing burns sometimes. This applies to formulas as well.

- To test the milk’s temperature, the mom can put a few drops on her arm.

- In case the baby doesn’t consume the total quantity of milk, the leftovers can be consumed within two hours, then they must be tossed.

- Thawed breast milk must not be frozen again.


Sometimes breast milk separates after it is chilled or frozen. Some moms think that the milk has gone bad, but this is normal. All you need to know is to shake the container and the milk will mix again, and you can give it to your baby.

 Check out those Top tips for breastfeeding twins



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Sally Al BeerBreastfeeding Counselor & Newborn Care Specialist

Sally graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Sharjah. She moved to Ontario Canada where she worked as a pharmacist for several years. Meanwhile, she had two children and received great support from breastfeeding consultants. She enjoyed the breastfeeding journey which drove her to volunteer to help new mothers in this journey as well. She found her passion in the field of mother and baby and continued to volunteer after returning to live in the UAE, until she became an accredited breastfeeding specialist providing support to hundreds of breastfeeding mothers, by helping them overcome the challenges of breastfeeding.

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