14 Simple Tips to Make Pumping Easier and More Successful

pumping
Image via Mindi Stavish

Nursing a baby during his or her first year of life will be full of victories and struggles. Whether you work outside of the home or will be pumping in order for others to care for your baby when you step out for a while, preparing for pumping before the arrival of your baby is the first step in being a successful pumping mom.

If you find yourself pumping for unexpected reasons, such as your baby is in the NICU or your baby has a poor latch, now is the time to get organized.

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Image via Stavish Stills Photography

Do some research on breast pumps

With so many breast pumps on the market now, it may be difficult to choose which breast pump will be best for you. Many insurance companies are still determining their breast pump coverage, so be sure to check with your insurance plan to determine what breast pump brands and types they cover.

When I was deciding which breast pump to purchase, it was important to me that I had a portable pump that could be run on a rechargeable battery. With my first two babies, I commuted quite a distance to work, so being able to pump in the car to and from work was essential to me

Get an extra set of pump parts

I will admit: I am a lazy pumping mom. Instead of cleaning my pump parts, I purchased three sets so I did not have to wash them between pumping sessions. If you have access to a fridge, you can store your pump parts in a plastic storage bag and place them in the fridge between pumping sessions to avoid washing them between sessions.

Find yourself a nice distraction

When pumping, I found it stressful to watch how much milk I was producing while pumping. Stress while pumping will decrease your let down and production. Instead of watching the milk flow, distract yourself with an enjoyable activity. Use a hands-free pumping bra to free up your hands.

Cover up with a receiving blanket

I used my baby's swaddling blanket to put in my lap to avoid spilling milk on myself while pumping. Then I used the blanket to clean up any excess milk that may have spilled.

breast milk
Image via Flickr/ Editor B

Pump to build a small milk stash

Most moms find that their body is most efficient at producing milk in the morning, so take advantage of this and fit in a pump session after (or even during) breakfast. During the day, pump between breastfeeding sessions (30-60 minutes after or at least an hour before a nursing session). If your baby nurses from only one side, you may want to pump on the other side.

Pump every three hours

Every woman's body is slightly different, so you may find that you need to pump more or less frequently at work. The general guideline is to pump every three hours. You may need to pump more if your baby is younger and you have not fully established your milk supply.

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Pump 8-10 times per day

If you pump exclusively, aim to pump 8-10 times per day during the first few weeks and then 6-7 times per day when your milk supply is established. A full milk supply for a 2-week-old baby is between 25 and 35 ounces.

Pump for 10-15 minutes per session

You should pump 1-2 minutes after you are no longer pumping milk. Although every woman's body is a bit different, it will take on average 10 to 15 minutes. It normally takes me nearly 30 minutes to empty my breasts.

 

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Image via Flickr/ aaron_anderer

What size flange should I use?

One of the most important parts to efficiently draining your milk from your breast is to use the right size flange. All breast pumps come with the standard flange size (24mm), yet most women are not the “standard” size.

If your shield is too small, you may experience blocked milk ducts, which are painful. A good-fitting flange will allow your nipple to move freely within the tunnel while pumping. You should be able to see space around your nipple so just a small part of your areola is drawn into the tunnel with the nipple.

Also, your breast flange size may change throughout your pumping time. It is a good idea to recheck the fit of your flange from time to time and adjust accordingly.

 

breast pump
Image via Flickr/ planet_oleary

What is the best way to get an early let down?

Some moms have a difficult time achieving let down when pumping. If you are one of these moms, here are a few things you can try.

  1. Bring something from home that reminds you of your baby, such as recorded noises, photographs, or an item with your baby's scent.
  2. Apply a warm compress to your breast prior to pumping. If you are home, you can take a warm bath or shower to help with let down.
  3. Using massage techniques, you can learn how to hand express, which is a fancy way of saying you're milking yourself.
  4. After a couple of minutes of pumping, readjust your flanges in order to stimulate other glands to increase your milk output.
  5. One of the hardest things to do while you are hooked up to a milk machine is to relax. Being able to relax while pumping is perhaps the most important factor in producing milk. So sit back, enjoy a snack, and listen to your favorite music while thinking happy thoughts.

{ MORE: Cluster Feeding: It's a Thing and a Not-So-Great Reality }

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14 Simple Tips to Make Pumping Easier and More Successful

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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