A breast pump is used to express (or remove) breast milk from the breasts and store it for later use. You can use a breast pump to help build up your milk supply or to feed premature babies, hospitalized infants, or children who cannot nurse. Hospital-grade pumps can be purchased or rented, and some health insurance plans cover the cost. Breast pumps are also available at stores and online, and lactation consultants can help you find one that fits your needs.
The basic parts of a breast pump include a breast shield and a milk container. The breast shield, which looks like a cone-shaped cup, fits over the nipple and the area around it (the areola). The pump creates a gentle vacuum to express the milk into a bottle or disposable bag attached to the breast-shield. The milk container is usually a reusable or disposable bottle that holds the collected milk until it can be fed to your baby. Some pumps are double pumps and have a separate breast-shield for each breast.
When using a breast pump, start by washing your hands and the parts of the pump with soap and water or hand sanitizer. Put together the pump and read the instruction manual. Then get comfortable and relaxed in a quiet, warm place that’s free of distractions. Massaging your nipples for a few minutes can trigger the “let-down” reflex, which causes your body to eject milk from the milk ducts. breast pump