A breast pump is a handy tool for every nursing mom but it can be intimidating at first. There’s not usually much fun in strapping a contraption to yourself in general but the key to breast pumping is to figure out what works for you and to relax. In time, you’ll be fearlessly pumping every day and have your system perfected. Here are 15 of our favorite tips for anyone starting to use a breast pump.
15 Research Before You Buy
Shop around for the right pump. It may be worth it to invest a little more especially if you’re worried about sensitivity or allergies to plastics. There are some questions you might not think to ask: do you want a manual, battery, or electric pump? Many stores will have an overwhelming variety to choose from, so know what you want (or be prepared with questions) before you step in the store.
14 Talk To Other Moms Who Use Pumps
Product review websites can only give you so much information. Chat with your friends and neighbors about what they’ve been using. They’ll be sure to give you an honest answer that you might not get from the salesman at Sears. This is also a great way to discuss any worries or issues you run into. And don’t be embarrassed to admit you’ve been having trouble pumping. Everyone has to get used to it at some point, and your friends will certainly be able to relate.
13 Time It Right
Find the time of day that works best for you. Many new moms say that morning is the best time to pump. Other daily habits, like when you exercise or shower, can affect your pumping. Don’t be afraid to carve out time from your busy schedule for your best time to pump. If waking up an hour early makes your pumping a better experience, it will be well worth it in the end.
12 Relax Your Body With a Pre-Pump Ritual
Calm yourself down before and during pumping with something you enjoy that centers you, like reading or listening to music. Breathe deep and relax. You’ll have a much easier time pumping if you’re feeling good and grounded. You can even make a pumping playlist you use every time you pump. It will put your mind at ease and the ritual will help psyche yourself up.
11 Keep Yourself Hydrated
Drinking a few glasses of water before you pump will not only prime your body but also help with flow. Plus, it’s a healthy habit, especially for a new mom. Make a batch of cucumber or lemon water to drink in the morning to make it more palatable and less of a chore. You’ll definitely notice the difference in flow between the days you hydrate and the days you don’t.
10 Buy a Spare
You can buy a travel-size, easy to carry pump to have around in the car or when you go on vacation. Having that extra pump can help you stick to your routine to avoid any uncomfortable fullness. It’s one more thing to carry around in your ever-growing purse but you’ll be grateful to have it.
9 Wear Loose Clothing That Makes Movement Easier
The right clothing can make a difference when you’re first learning what works for you. You can make yourself a pumping bra if you have an old sports bra that you’re fine with cutting up. Loose clothing is always best so you can simply move it aside when it’s time to pump. Buttons also come in handy. Remember, when it comes to getting dressed as a pumping mom, the name of the game is comfort and convenience.
8 Save Time With Double Pumps
Save time and maximize your pumping by pumping both breasts at the same time. Not only that, you will yield more milk. The prolactin levels in your blood are higher when pumping both breasts at the same time. You can double pump using an electric but if you have a manual pump you can operate with one hand, you can use two of them to double pump manually.
7 Release More Milk by Thinking of Your Baby
Thinking of your baby is not only great motivation to keep pumping but can also help trigger the release of your milk! Keep a photograph of your baby on hand to keep morale high and help trigger your brain into milking mode. Many moms say they’ll even keep a sock or a blanket that smells like their baby when they pump.
6 Keep Yourself Entertained
It doesn’t take long but if pumping starts to feel like a chore (which it will most days), you’ll want to keep your morale high by entertaining yourself. What’s something that you’ll look forward to during the day? Catch up on that romance novel you’ve been reading or keep a recording of your favorite show on the DVR to watch when you pump. You have enough chores on your plate as it is, so why add one more?
5 Try Not to Skip a Day
Establishing a routine is one of the best things you can do to keep the milk a flowin’. You can train your milk ejection reflex with a regular schedule. You may also experience some discomfort if you haven’t fed or pumped in a while. If you’re not good at scheduling, set a daily alarm on your phone or create reminders for yourself, such as a post-it note on the fridge telling you to pump after breakfast.
4 Storing Your Milk Is an Excellent Option
Some days, you might have more milk than others. Plan ahead by storing the extra milk to use throughout the week. Be sure to have BPA-free bottles or other storage containers. Glass jars are a great, easy option, for instance. Some moms use baggies. Consider storing your milk in two-ounce containers to prevent waste.
3 Use Vaseline
Even if you’re sure you don’t have any allergies to your pump, you might not want to put the material on such a sensitive area. Vaseline or other similar lubricants will help if you’re having skin sensitivity issues or want to protect against them.
2 Communicate With Your Boss
If you’re back to work, you’ll want to make time for your pumping, and ensure your privacy. Make sure your boss knows you’ll be taking a few breaks throughout the day or you might want to ask for permission to use the break room at designated times.
1 Prepare Your Comebacks
There’s no getting around it. There may be times when you have to pump in public and can’t get to a private location. It’s totally fair to want to avoid grubby public restrooms but some people out there may not take too kindly to your pumping in public. It’s good to have some solid replies in your back pocket in case you encounter a rude individual. “Would you like to have sore breasts all day?” might quiet them down.