Breast pumps are useful when you need to replace nursing sessions, maintain your milk supply and collect or save milk. They can also be used after nursing sessions to encourage your body to make more milk, beyond what your baby has removed from the breasts. How do you make sure your pumping sessions are efficient and effective at collecting the amount of milk you need for your baby? Try these tips to make the most of your pumping sessions.
-Plan ahead! Set up to pump in a quiet, comfortable, stress free environment.
-Make sure your pump parts are in good condition. Replace pump parts after 3 months of continuous use or even earlier if you notice the parts have tears, scratches or appear worn. Inspect the parts before each pump session.
-Make sure your pump flanges are comfortable and fit properly.
-If you cannot be with your baby while you pump, have a piece of your baby’s clothing handy with her scent, look at pictures of your baby and listen to videos of her noises. This will help your body release the oxytocin it needs to trigger a letdown. If your baby is near, you can help release the oxytocin by touching your baby, interacting and/or just adoring her!
-Close your eyes and visualize milk flowing abundantly from a waterfall, stream, faucet, etc. while you pump. It is also helpful to listen to sounds of streams, pouring rain or waterfalls. (This tip worked wonders for me!)
-Use hands on pumping. Massage your breasts before you pump and use breast compressions while you are pumping. Hands on pumping is easiest to do while wearing a comfortable fitting pump bra.
-Let gravity do its job by leaning forward every few minutes while using breast compressions to effectively drain the breasts. (Don’t lean too far forward or milk can drip out of the bottles!)
-Make sure you are using a comfortable setting on your pump. A higher suction does not mean you will get more milk. Pumping should be comfortable and not painful. Start at a low suction and work your way up until you find the setting that works best for you.
-Cover the collection bottles so you don’t watch the milk accumulating. It can be discouraging and affect your letdown if you stare at the bottles.
-Save your favorite snack or treat to enjoy during your pumping sessions.
-Find a comfortable pumping bra that fits properly and is not too tight. Buy 2 of the one you love so you have a backup.
Pumping can be a great tool to use when you must be away from your baby. If you are pumping to increase your milk supply, replace nursing sessions on a regular basis or pump exclusively, it is important that you use a double electric pump. If your baby is in the NICU and/or born prematurely, it is recommended to use a hospital grade pump until you and your baby reunite with regular skin to skin and nursing sessions. Pumping can take practice before you begin to see a typical milk output. Keep trying, use the tips mentioned above and eventually you and your body will begin to respond positively to the pump. And remember, a pump is not as effective as a nursing baby is at removing milk! Therefore, the amount of milk you pump is not a good indication of how much your baby removes from the breasts while nursing. Happy Pumping!