image001 While you can do it, pumping breasts before deliver does not really yield any benefits and may, in fact, be harmful. It is important to know the pros and cons of this practice before you become pregnant.

Can You Pump Breasts Before Delivery?

When a newborn breastfeeds, your body naturally produces oxytocin to help your uterus “clamp down” after delivery. This action helps to tone your uterus and bring it back to the normal pre-pregnancy size. Oxytocin is also the natural form of the drug Pitocin that is used to start labor in a woman who is past her due date. Pitocin is the drug you will receive if your healthcare practitioner determines that it is time to “induce” labor or help your body go into labor.

If you pump your breasts before delivery, there is a chance that you will go into pre-term labor and your baby may be delivered before the due date. The danger of this is that the baby’s lungs may not be fully ready to breathe outside of the womb and early delivery may endanger the newborn. If you think pumping your breasts before delivery will increase your production of milk, this is probably not true. If you want to try to start labor using this technique, be sure to consult your healthcare provider.

Experiences of Some Moms

Listen to some first-hand experiences of mothers when asked questions about pumping their breasts before delivery.

  • Did you pump breasts before delivery? Why or why not?

“I did not pump my breasts before delivery. My doctor advised me not to do this since the chance of getting much milk before delivery was not very good. She was afraid I would make my nipples sore before my baby was even delivered. She was also concerned that I might start pre-term labor if I pumped.”

“I developed diabetes during my pregnancy, so my doctor and midwife thought my baby might be born with low blood sugar and be unable to nurse. They were afraid he would have to be placed on a higher sugar formula. They told me to stop pumping if I started having any contractions. I never did.”

“I did pump my breasts before delivery and saved the small amount of colostrum that I go. When my baby was born, he developed jaundice and quit breastfeeding. I was really glad that I had saved my pre-delivery colostrum since we had to start formula feeding a couple of days after delivery.”

  • Did pumping breasts before delivery increase your supply of milk?

“I did have a lot of milk, but I can’t say it was due to pumping before delivery. My mother and grandmother both said they had lots of milk, so I think I would have had a lot even without pumping.”

  • Did pumping breasts before delivery help your milk come in sooner?

I really don’t think so. I think my milk came in at about day 4 after delivery–just about the time my midwife said it would. The biggest benefit was that I did have a small amount of colostrum saved in the event I needed it. I don’t think pumping made my milk come in sooner, but I also don’t regret having pumped before delivery.”

If you want to learn more about the answer to "Can you pump breasts before delivery?" you can watch the video below:

How Soon Can You Pump Breasts After Delivery?

You will start breastfeeding very soon after delivery. During the first few days, you will produce small amounts of colostrum that are very good for your newborn. Within about 3 to 4 days after delivery, your milk will “come in” and you may find that your breasts become full between feedings. At this point, you may want to start pumping your breasts and storing the milk for later use. As long as your baby is content and growing, she/he is getting plenty of milk, but the stored milk is handy if someone else needs to feed the baby! Using a breast pump after the birth of your newborn will help make your uterus contract and will help to stop the normal vaginal bleeding that usually occurs after delivery.

How to Pump Breasts After Delivery

Breast pumps can be manual or electric. An electric pump will pump your breasts quicker, but be sure to start with the lowest level. A manual pump will take about 30 to 45 minutes to pump both breasts. These pumps provide sucking action very similar to your breastfeeding baby, so the action should be pain-free.

To use these pumps, use a shield that is the right size for your nipple and breast. These shields usually come with the breast pump but you can also buy them separately If you have a “pumping bra”, this is convenient since it will hold the pump in place and allow you to read a book while pumping your breast. Attach the shield to the pump, turn the machine on, and let the pumping begin! If the sucking action is painful, be sure to turn the suction to the lowest level and gradually increase it. Pumping your breasts should not be painful! Breast milk is very rich and provides a good medium for bacterial growth, so be sure to clean the pump parts thoroughly after each use. Store the milk as directed by your healthcare provider.

Want to see how to pump breasts after delivery? Check out the video below: