breastmilk pump and bottlesPumping Breastmilk

Pumping when you are away from your baby whether it is for school, work or a hospitalized baby can be stressful for a new mom or any mom for that matter. It adds one more “thing” to an already busy schedule.

Being consistent is key! Pumping every 2-3 hours (or how often your baby would normally eat) when you are away from your baby will help keep your milk supply steady.

If your baby is in the hospital – remember – 8 or more in 24 – that’s a minimum of 8 times in 24 hours. You may be thinking this seems like a lot and you’re right!

mom pumping while on her device

So, how can you get the most out of your time if you do have to pump? Using your hands along with the pump is key. Just depending on the suction of the pump alone will not give you the amount of breast milk you could possibly get if you also used your hands.

Video: Hands-on pumping from Dr. Jane Morton at Stanford

Helpful Steps:

Before you pump, wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol. Make sure the area where you are pumping and your pump parts and bottles are clean. Breasts and nipples do not need to be washed before pumping.


If you need help to get your milk to start flowing without your baby there, you can:

  • Think about the things you love about your baby.
  • Bring a photo or a blanket or item of clothing that has your baby's scent on it.
  • Apply a warm, moist cloth to your breasts.
  • Gently massage your breasts.
  • Gently rub your nipples.
  • Visualize the milk flowing down.
  • Sit quietly and think of a relaxing setting.

Fresno EOC WIC offers breast pump loans. Talk to your WIC Nutrition Assistant or BF Peer Counselor at your next appointment. You can also call our Breastfeeding help-line at (559) 263-1380 (M-F 8:30-5:30).

Ways to express by hand or pump

Type How it works What's involved Average cost
Hand expression You use your hand to squeeze and press on your breast to remove milk.
  • Requires practice, skill, and coordination.
  • Gets easier with practice and can be as fast as pumping.
  • Good if you are not often away from your baby or you need an option that is always with you. But all moms should learn how to hand express in case of emergency.
Manual pump You use your hand and wrist to operate a hand-held device to pump the milk.
  • Requires practice, skill, and coordination.
  • Useful for occasional pumping if you are away from your baby only once in a while.
  • May put you at higher risk of breast infection.
$30 to $50*
Electric breast pump Runs on battery or plugs into an electrical outlet.
  • Can be easier for some moms.
  • Can pump one breast at a time or both breasts at the same time.
  • Double pumping (pumping both breasts at the same time) may collect more milk in less time, which is helpful if you are going back to work or school full-time.
  • Need a place to clean and store the equipment between uses.
  • Electric pumps require batteries or a place to plugin.
$150 to over $250*

Now, how do you store it? Click here.