MAN­UAL EX­PRES­SION OR BREAST­PUMP?

Your Pregnancy - - Your Baby -

This de­pends on your needs. If you are ex­press­ing for a pre­ma­ture baby, rent a hos­pi­tal-grade elec­tric pump with a dou­ble col­lec­tion kit in or­der to prop­erly stim­u­late your milk sup­ply. You can rent this from a lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant or di­rectly from the hos­pi­tal. Many hos­pi­tals have pumps in the NICU that moms can use on the premises, but if you are dis­charged be­fore baby, you will need to rent or buy your own to use at home. Hos­pi­tal-grade pumps have a closed vac­uum sys­tem, and are safe for re­use. Each mom buys her own col­lec­tion kit, which is ba­si­cally the flange and tubes (you can opt for a sin­gle col­lec­tion set, or a dou­ble, which means both breasts can be pumped at the same time – which saves time and in­creases sup­ply). If you will be ex­press­ing two or more feeds per day once you re­turn to work, a store-bought dou­ble elec­tric breast pump is ideal and time ef­fi­cient. And if you only plan to ex­press once in a blue moon? In that case a man­ual pump or hand ex­press­ing will do the job.

YOUR LET-DOWN RE­FLEX

Breast­milk is pro­duced by and stored in spe­cial milk-mak­ing cells in the alve­oli (hol­low struc­tures in the breast re­sem­bling clus­ters of grapes). Around each alve­o­lus is a bas­ket-like net­work of mus­cle cells. When the nerve end­ings in your are­ola (the dark area around your nip­ple) are stim­u­lated, your brain re­leases oxy­tocin. This hor­mone con­tracts the mus­cle cells around the alve­oli, squeez­ing the milk into the ducts that lead to the holes in your nip­ples. This process is called the let-down or the milk ejec­tion re­flex, and with­out it no milk is avail­able. The let-down is a con­di­tioned re­flex. It oc­curs when baby suck­les, but can also be trig­gered by other stim­uli. Any breast­feed­ing mom knows that her milk of­ten starts flow­ing when she hears baby cry or merely thinks about him. In or­der to ex­press milk, you will need to con­di­tion your breasts to re­spond to hand ex­pres­sion or a breast pump. For this rea­son, most moms only get a few millil­itres – or even a few drops, the first time they ex­press. Don’t be dis­cour­aged, prac­tice makes per­fect.

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