If you’re choosing to breastfeed, learning how to use a breast pump can be complicated. We’ve broken it down for you so you can learn how to easily use your breast pump. Read our breast pump tutorial below to set yourself up for breastfeeding success!

breast pump with bottles near baby

Breast pumps are a lifesaver for mothers. If you’re going to work, staying out for the night, or you just need a break, knowing how to use a breast pump is a must. It allows you the freedom to not always be homebound with your newborn. As much as you adore them, sometimes you just need some space.

So, we’re here to help. If you follow the steps below, you’ll learn where to pump, how to use the breast pump, and how to care for yourself and the pump.


Before we tell you how to use a breast pump, it’s important to know what to get.

breast pumping tips illustration

For this tutorial you’ll need:

  • An electric breast pump
  • 15 minutes of alone time
  • A warm towel

There are two kinds of breast pumps: manual and electric. Electric is more popular but a hand breast pump is cheaper ($40-$50). Some of the steps are the same for both, the obvious difference being that with a hand pump you’re required to manually press the pump.

We recommend investing in an electric breast pump as it’s much easier to use and saves time. Most models require the same steps for use, so this tutorial applies for everyone.

Here are some great electric breast pump options:

Spectra S1 Plus Electric Breast Pump

This hospital-grade pump is super quiet, rechargeable, and features digital controls.

spectra s1 plus premier rechargeable electric breast pump

Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On-the-Go Tote

This all-in-one pack is easy to set up, has all your basic needs, and comes with a battery pack in case you can’t find an outlet.

medela pump in style advanced breast pump with tote

Now, let the pumping begin! Follow the steps below carefully:

Step 1: Read

Read the instructions to your breast pump. Familiarize yourself with the model and do some research for any specific tips and tricks on how to work with it best. It can be intimidating at first, so the more information you have, the better.

Step 2: Clean

Wash your hands thoroughly before you begin. Whether you’ve used it before or not, always make sure to wash every part of the breast pump. You want to make sure everything is sanitary for both you and your baby.

cleaning baby milk bottles

Step 3: Relax

You’ll probably want to go somewhere private for your first time so you can relax. Pumping can be anxiety-inducing because it often means you’re about to spend time away from your baby.

Try to relax, or even meditate, to put yourself in the right headspace. Thinking about your baby both helps you relax and can stimulate hormones to make pumping easier.

Some moms find it helpful to look at a photo of their baby, listen to a recording, or watch a video to trigger happy thoughts.

relaxing illustration

Step 4: Encourage letdown

To make things easier, you can help encourage letdown, which basically means helping the breast milk come out. You can lightly massage your breasts or apply a warm compress to get them ready. Especially for those finding milk production difficult, this can help.

Step 5: Dampen the Flange

The flange, also called the breast shield, is what suctions to your breast. Before starting, you should make sure the fit is right to avoid soreness. The size you need will correspond with the size of your nipple, so measure out the correct one for you.

Once you find the right size, moisten it with water so you can get a good seal. This will make pumping a lot easier and optimize the amount of breastmilk you get.

find the right breast shield tips illustration

Step 5: Line it up

Place the assembled breast pump shields on your breasts and align your nipples with the center of the breast shield before you turn on the pump. Make sure the positioning is right and feels comfortable.

Step 6: Turn on the pump

The breast pump usually starts with the letdown phase once it’s turned on. Expect short and fast suctioning bursts that’ll last a few minutes until it switches to regular mode.

You can manually adjust the speed if your pump doesn’t adjust itself so it’s more consistent once milk is being produced.

It seems a bit strange, but this is to mimic how your newborn feeds. It’s to get the breastfeeding letdown to start so only a small amount of milk will come at first. Don’t be alarmed, though, it’ll steady out in a few minutes.

Step 7: Find the suction that works

We recommend starting the suction level low before adjusting it as the milk production increases. Pay attention to what works for your body and is giving the right amount of milk without hurting you or causing discomfort.

Step 8: Turn off the pump

Turn off the pump once the milk has slowed down, which usually occurs in around 15 minutes. Carefully remove the breast sheilds, unscrew the bottles, and put the caps on.

Step 9: Clean … Again!

Everything includes at least two cleaning steps when you have a baby. Make sure to wash with warm water and soap before setting them out to air dry.

Step 10: Store

You can store breast milk for up to four days in the refrigerator, or in the freezer for up to 12 months.

breast milk bottles stored in refrigerator

We hope you enjoyed this article on how to use a breast pump. All mothers should have the ability to pump safely and with the freedom to be away from their newborn when needed. To know how to do this correctly is vital.

mother playing with baby

Let us know what you think in the comments and share if you enjoyed it!

About the Author Hannah

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