Infant Special Care Unit (ISCU) Pumping Guidelines

Your baby may be too small or too sick to breastfeed right now.  However, you can pump you breasts and store the milk for when your baby is ready.  It is important for you to begin pumping as soon as you feel well enough, usually by 24 hours after your delivery.

While you are in the hospital, you may use the breast pumps available at the postpartum unit.   There are also pumps available for you to use during your visits to ISCU. 

In order to keep an adequate milk supply, you will need to arrange for a pump to use at home. 

Preparing to pump:

  • Wash your hands before pumping. (No special cleansing of the breasts is necessary.)
  • Seat yourself in a comfortable chair.  Use relaxation techniques if desired.
  • Apply warm compresses if your breasts feel overly full.
  • Massage your breasts, or lean over to bring your milk to the front of the breast.
  • Think about your baby, or look at a picture of your baby.

Use of the breast pump:

  • Refer to instructions included in your pump kit.
  • Center your nipple in the opening of the breastshield.
  • Start with the suction strength on minimum, and increase as tolerated.
  • Pumping should be comfortable.  If there is any tenderness, ask your nurse for some nipple ointment.

Pumping schedule:

  • Pump 8-12 times a day, or about every 2-3 hours.  You will need to pump at least twice at night for the first 2 weeks.
  • Pump for 15-20 minutes to start.  Once your milk flow is established, pump 2 minutes beyond the time the milk flow stops.
  • Keep a written record of your daily milk volume.
  • After 2 weeks, you may cut back to one pumping at night.
  • Continue to pump every 2-3 hours during the daytime.

Breastmilk storage when your baby is in the ISCU:

  • We will supply you with disposable storage bottles and caps.
  • Follow the instructions of your baby’s nurse regarding where to store the breastmilk.
  • Initially place small portions of milk (1/2 to 1 ounce) in each container.
  • Label each container with your baby’s name, and the date and time you pumped the milk.  The ISCU secretary can provide you with labels for your milk.
  • Number the colostrum bottles with 1, 2, 3, etc, so they can be given in the correct order.
  • Freshly expressed breastmilk can be stored in your refrigerator, if it will be brought to the ISCU and fed to your baby within 48 hours.
  • Milk can also be stored in the back or center of your freezer, but not in the door.  Milk can be stored for several months in the freezer.
  • Milk should be transported to the ISCU in a cooler, or bag of ice.  If the milk was frozen, it should remain frozen while it is transported to the ISCU.
  • Frozen breastmilk, once thawed, is good in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • Ask your baby’s nurse if your milk needs to be frozen for 24 hours before it is fed to your baby.

Cleaning the breast pump kit:

  • Use liquid dish soap to wash any parts that come into contact with milk.  Rinse well, and place on a clean towel to dry.  It is suggested that you boil the parts once a day.
  • The tubing and filter do not need to be washed.  If they become accidentally wet, dry them with a hair dryer, or air dry.

If you have any questions:

  • Speak with your nurse, or the ISCU nurse.
  • To speak with one of the lactation consultants, please call 847.570.2414.
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