Real talk time…..pumping is not my most favorite thing. I do it, because keeping my supply and providing breastmilk for my baby is important to me, but as soon as I can retire that machine, I rejoice.
As a breastfeeding mom, and a Certified Lactation Counselor, I have learned a few tricks to make pumping easier, more comfortable, and to optimize output and I am sharing them with you today.
Hands On Pumping
I give this tip to every breastfeeding mom. The pump isn’t a baby, it doesn’t have soft warm skin and smile at you. A big part of expressing breast milk, is hormonal, and because we loose that aspect with the pump, it can be harder for our body to respond.
By doing “Hands On” pumping, you can help encourage more expression. Before you start pumping, with clean, warm hands, do some gentle breast massage. This step lets your body know its time to get that milk flowing, kind of “primes” the milk ducts. After you are hooked up and have started pumping, whenever your letdown or expression starts to slow, you can do some gentle compression, to keep the flow going a little bit longer. A good hands free pumping bra makes this a lot easier, I personally love Rumina’s Nurse and pump bras. You can read my review of their newest bra here
Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do as a mom. Breastfeeding mom’s need at least 64 oz of water a day, its hard work makin milk! For me, I stay thirsty when I breastfeeding, but if you struggle drinking water, an easy way to get it in is to drink a glass every time that you nurses or pump (8-12 nursing sessions a day should get you plenty of water in, easy peasy!) So be sure to get yourself a good water bottle or cup, and keep it with you all the time. On days plain water gets kind of boring, I like to add some fresh fruit for a yummy change.
Good Pump Fit
Make sure your breast-shields fit correctly….When I had my son, I didn’t even know there were different sizes available, much less that I might be using the wrong size. This can make a big difference, not only in output, but also comfort. Your nipple should comfortably glide in and out, there shouldn’t be any part of your breast rubbing up against the sides. You also shouldn’t have a large amount of space or a lot of the breast being pulled in. This is a great picture reference. If you think yours may be the wrong size, don’t be afraid to try another! You can always have your breast-shields checked by a lactation profession for fit too.
For our milk to let down, we need to be in a relaxed state. Sitting and watching our pump, can cause some anxiety, even if we don’t realize it. Playing a game, watching a show or movie, or doing getting some work done while you pump is a great way to keep your eyes on something else. I also like covering the bottles with a burp cloth or nursing cover so I’m not tempted to look until I’m done.
Watch your baby
I have already mentioned it, but breastfeeding isn’t just about the motion or suction, there are also hormones involved. When we hold our baby, Oxytocin, is released which makes us feel happy and loved and gets milk flowing. When you are away from your baby, the pump unfortunately can’t give you that. But you can replicate some of that feeling by watching a video or looking at pictures of your baby while you are pumping. Another trick is to bring a blanket or onsie that your baby has used, and hold it to smell while pumping. If you’re pumping when you’re with your baby, you can even hold them or do some skin to skin right before or while pumping.
Pumping is tough and sometimes frustrating, so high five to all you mamas doing what you have to for your baby’s! I hope you will try some of these and they will make your pumping experience a little better .
Do you have a different tip or trick? Or a question about pumping? Drop it in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!