How to Use Electric Breast Pump?

Breastfeeding is a beautiful journey, but it can also be challenging, especially for working moms or those with low milk supply. This is where electric breast pumps come in handy. These modern wonders not only allow you to express and store breast milk conveniently but also help stimulate milk production. Whether you’re an exclusive pumper or simply need to build a stash, an electric breast pump can be your go-to companion.

This detailed guide will take you through the step-by-step process of using an electric breast pump effectively. From preparing yourself and your equipment to mastering the pumping technique and storing your liquid gold, we’ve got you covered. Get ready to unlock the full potential of your breastfeeding experience with this essential tool.

When is an Electric Breast Pump Needed?

An electric breast pump can be an invaluable tool for breastfeeding mothers in various circumstances. It becomes essential when returning to work or school, as it allows mothers to express and store breast milk when separating from their baby. These advanced tools are also highly beneficial for mothers of premature or hospitalized infants, helping them establish and maintain an adequate breast milk supply.

Almost 60 – 90% of mothers all around the world face challenges like low milk production or blocked ducts. In such situations, regular pumping with an electric breast pump can help regulate and stimulate milk flow. Additionally, when a baby is unable to latch or feed directly from the breast due to medical conditions or other reasons, an electric pump enables mothers to express and provide their breast milk, ensuring the infant still receives the nutritional and immunological benefits of breast milk.

While manual breast pumps can be a more affordable option, electric breast pumps offer several advantages:

  • Faster and more efficient milk expression
  • Hands-free operation, allowing for multitasking
  • Adjustable suction levels and cycling patterns
  • Increased milk production over time

When Can You Start Using an Electric Breast Pump?

If you have a full-term, healthy, breastfeeding baby, you can wait a few weeks to start pumping and storing breast milk. If your baby is preterm or ill and cannot breastfeed yet, or if you have chosen to exclusively pump, pump as soon as you can after birth, preferably within one to six hours of delivery.

According to Healthline, you can start using an electric breast pump when your baby is around 6 weeks old and gaining weight well, and you don’t need to separate from them. This allows you to continue breastfeeding and establish your milk supply. However, you can start pumping sooner if you’re separated from your baby and they’re in the NICU, or if breastfeeding isn’t going well.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using Your Electric Breast Pump

Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide on how to use an electric breast pump.

Washing Hands and Sterilizing Equipment

Before beginning your pumping session, it’s crucial to maintain proper hygiene to prevent contamination of your expressed breast milk.

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before pumping.

Different steps of washing hands on white background

Next, make sure all the pump parts have been properly cleaned and sterilized according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Many electric breast pumps come with microwave or steam sterilization bags or containers for convenient sanitization. If not, you can boil the pump parts in water for several minutes or use a dedicated sterilization solution or device.

Getting Comfortable and Relaxed in a Quiet Environment

Find a comfortable and relaxing spot in a quiet area with minimal distractions for your pumping station.

Set up with soft music, a candle, or a photo of your baby nearby to help you relax.


Adjust your chair for proper posture, use a nursing pillow for support, and take deep breaths to relax your body. Engage in relaxation techniques like visualization or meditation to promote the let-down reflex and maximize milk output.

Massaging Breasts to Stimulate the Let-Down Reflex

Before attaching the breast shields, gently massage your breasts to encourage the let-down reflex, which is the release of oxytocin that causes your milk to flow more freely.

Start by placing your hands flat on your breasts and make circular motions from the outer area towards the nipple, using the flat part of your fingers.


You can also try a gentle kneading or rolling motion, applying light pressure to the breast tissue. Pay special attention to the areas around the underarms and the upper part of the breasts, as these regions often have milk ducts that can benefit from massage.

Set the Breast Shield and Start Pumping on the Lowest Setting

Once you’ve massaged your breasts and are ready to begin pumping, center the breast shield (the cone-shaped part that fits over your nipple and areola) over your nipple, ensuring a snug but comfortable fit.

The breast shield should create a gentle seal around your areola without pinching or causing discomfort.


Turn on your electric breast pump and start at the lowest suction setting. It allows your body to adjust to the pumping sensation gradually, preventing any potential discomfort or nipple trauma. Take a few deep breaths and let your body relax into the pumping rhythm.

Increasing Speed as Milk Flow Begins

As your milk begins to flow, you can gradually increase the suction speed to a comfortable level that promotes efficient milk removal.

Most electric breast pumps have adjustable suction levels, allowing you to find the setting that works best for your body.


Pay attention to the sound of the pump and the sensation on your breasts. The suction should feel like a gentle pulling sensation but never cause pain or discomfort. If you experience discomfort, reduce the suction level or try adjusting the breast shield fit.

Switching Breasts When Milk Flow Slows Down

During your pumping session, you’ll notice that the milk flow from one breast will slow down significantly before the other.

It is a natural occurrence, as breasts typically have different milk storage capacities and release patterns.


When the milk flow from one breast slows to a trickle, switch the breast shield to the other breast and continue pumping. It allows for complete emptying of both breasts and can help stimulate further milk production by signaling your body to produce more milk.

Removing Breast Shield and Storing Expressed Milk Properly

Once the milk flow has stopped or slowed to a minimal trickle, turn off the electric breast pump and carefully remove the breast shield.

Be gentle and avoid tugging or pulling, as it can cause discomfort or nipple irritation.


Transfer the expressed breast milk from the pump bottles or containers into clean, food-grade storage containers or bottles. Label the containers with the date and time of pumping, as breast milk has a limited shelf life, even when refrigerated or frozen.

Follow proper storage guidelines for breast milk, such as refrigerating or freezing it within a certain timeframe, depending on your intended use. Consult your healthcare provider or lactation consultant for specific recommendations on breast milk storage and handling.

What is the Best Way to Use an Electric Breast Pump?

The best way of using an electric breast pump depends solely on the choice and comfort of a mother nursing her baby. However, it’s important to first analyze the right technique that works for your body. While you are using the pump for the first time, begin by adjusting the suction to the highest level that feels comfortable during the expression phase, as this setting mimics a baby’s sucking and promotes efficient milk removal. However, keep the pump speed relatively slow to avoid any jarring sensations. Leaning forward while pumping can also help gravity assist the milk flow into the bottles.

How Often Should You Pump?

The frequency depends on your goals and your baby’s needs, but here are some general guidelines:

  • If pumping while away from baby to maintain supply, pump every 3-5 hours, mentions a study. You can straight away use an electric breast pump as it allows efficient milk removal compared to manual pumping.
  • Another research article states that if pumping is to increase milk production, nurse 8-10 times per 24 hours. An electric pump can help empty the breasts after nursing sessions.
  • If exclusively pumping, double pump with an electric pump to get more milk faster.
  • When building a milk stash before returning to work, you can start pumping two weeks beforehand with an electric pump. However, avoid pumping with an electric pump before birth unless medically advised, as it could induce premature labor contractions.
  • If you don’t use an electric pump when exclusively pumping or building a stash, it will likely take much longer and be less efficient than through an electric pump’s stronger suction. However, you should not use an electric pump if you are experiencing nipple trauma or other issues that make pumping painful.

Try focusing on your pumping goals rather than volume, as stressing over ounces pumped can undermine your efforts.

Final Words

As you start using your electric breast pump for breastfeeding, remember it’s more than just a tool – it’s like a friend supporting you along the way. Embrace the ups and downs of pumping, and don’t worry if your milk supply changes. Every bit of breast milk is super valuable, giving your baby all the right nutrients and antibodies.

Celebrate your wins, no matter how small, and know you’re doing the best for your baby. The journey might not always be easy, but with patience, determination, and your trusty electric pump, you’ll make wonderful memories and build a strong bond with your little one.


Do electric breast pump parts need to be dry before use?

It’s important to ensure all pump parts are completely dry before assembling and using your electric breast pump. Any moisture left on the components can lead to bacteria growth and contamination of your expressed breast milk. After washing and sterilizing the pump parts according to the manufacturer’s instructions, allow them to air dry thoroughly on a clean, unused towel or drying rack. Avoid drying with towels that may transfer lint or fibers onto the pump parts. If any condensation or water droplets remain, use a fresh paper towel to gently pat the surfaces dry before reassembling the pump.

How do I reset my electric breast pump?

To reset an electric breast pump, first disconnect it from the flange or milk container. Then, locate the small reset hole near the power port and gently insert the end of a paperclip or earring back into the hole until you feel resistance. Pull it back out and wait a few seconds – the pump should emit a buzzing noise, indicating it has been reset to the default settings. Refer to your pump’s user manual for the exact reset process for your specific model.

How do I know if my breast pump is broken?

There are a few signs that may indicate your electric breast pump is broken or malfunctioning. If the pump isn’t turning on or making any sounds when powered on, or if the motor is running but there’s no suction, it could be a sign of a mechanical issue. Additionally, if the suction strength is significantly weaker than usual or if the pump is making unusual noises during operation, it may be time to troubleshoot or consider a replacement. If you notice any cracks, leaks, or damage to the pump parts or tubing, it’s best to stop using the pump and contact the manufacturer for assistance or repairs.

How to assemble an electric breast pump?

Assembling an electric breast pump correctly is crucial for its proper functioning and hygiene. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific pump model, as the assembly process may vary. In general, you’ll need to attach the breast shield to the pump body or flange, then connect the tubing to the pump motor and the collection bottles or containers. Ensure all parts are securely connected and there are no leaks or air gaps. Some pumps may require additional steps, such as attaching valves or membranes.