Pumping can result in a combination of feelings. A pumping mama wants to give her baby the amazing benefits of breastmilk, but via bottle. Some mamas pump exclusively due to work or latching issues, while other mamas both pump and nurse their little sweetie.
Whatever the reason is that you decide to pump, we can all agree that it can get complicated. We have compiled a list of 15 things that will help mom succeed at pumping. Some of these things are surprising while some of them are super obvious. We also have added 5 things that your doctor would not recommend when it comes to pumping.
When it comes to feeding baby, regardless of how you do so, there are often a lot of rules. We have added tips to ensure that while pumping you are healthy and happy and baby is well taken care of. Some mama’s pump for a year while others pump for six months. Whichever you choose to do, it is important that you do so correctly. Pumping may come easy to some, but it can be a challenge. It can emotionally and physically stressful for a new mama.
Which of these tips will you try out?
20 Get A Good Pump
It is a good idea to call your insurance company to see if they cover the cost of a breast pump. If they don’t, asking for one for your baby shower or saving money for one is a good idea if you want or need to pump.
There are many different brands of breast pumps and even different types of breast pumps. There are manual pumps, battery-powered pumps, and electric pumps.
Choosing the best pump that works for you and your lifestyle is important and may take some researching. Making sure you have what works for you is the first step in getting in the right direction with pumping success.
19 Check In With The Lactation Consultant
According to ThePumpingMommy, a lactation consultant can be helpful when it comes to issues you cannot overcome.
When it comes to questions about pumping, sore nips, or supply issues- you lactation consultant is the person to go to. Your hospital may give you information to keep in touch with a lactation consultant, but you can also look into other options.
Contacting La Leche League, USLCA (United States Lactation Consultant Association), Breastfeeding USA, and other breastfeeding support groups can all be helpful in helping you get in touch with a consultant.
When it comes to issues with the girls' tips, pumping, breast milk or breastfeeding, they are tons of qualified people ask.
18 Find A Supportive Doctor
You may get a lot of slack for pumping instead of nursing, and unfortunately, some of that hate may come from a doctor. You may have a doctor who is pushy about getting baby off of the bottle and onto the breast.
If baby is gaining enough weight and is healthy overall, your doctor should be encouraging you to continue whatever you're doing if it is doing baby good.
Finding a new doctor who supports you pumping, for whatever the reason, can make life so much easier. It will take away the anxiety of doctors appointments and frustration.
17 Ditch The Pacifier
If your baby drinks pumped milk and fresh from the tap, avoiding pacifiers may be a good idea until baby is around 4 weeks old, according to the MayoClinic. Most babies have a strong sucking reflex, and many take to the pacifier immediately.
The issue with pacifiers is nipple confusion. If you are pumping and nursing it can take time to adjust baby to getting used to the bottle and breast, so if you can, avoid throwing in a pacifier into the mix to add to the potential confusion.
If you are exclusively pumping, adding in a pacifier probably won’t do much harm since they are not used to the nip anyway.
16 Get Yourself On A Schedule
According to Ameda, you should plan to pump 8-10 times in a 24 hour period. Once you have reached full milk production, it is important to maintain a schedule that continues producing 25-30 oz in a 24 hour period.
Why is this so important you ask? Since baby isn’t being fed on demand by the breast, your body needs to be given cues on how much breastmilk to make for your baby.
Setting a schedule is a way to ensure that your body keeps making the appropriate amount of milk your little one needs. Each baby and mama are different, so plan your pumping schedule around what works best for you and your family.
15 Talk To Your Boss
If you plan on pumping at work, it is important that you communicate your wants, needs, and feelings to your employer about the topic.
According to BreastMilkCounts, talking with your employer about setting up a schedule and giving you a private place to pump are both very important matters to cover.
Make sure you talk with your employer about storing milk at work whether that be in a mini fridge in your office or in the break room. Pumping at work can feel weird and uncomfortable, but your employer should help make you feel as comfortable and supported as possible.
14 Pump In The Morning
According to Ameda, many moms get the most milk first thing in the morning.
This means that even if baby sleeps in, it is beneficial for you to pump as soon as you wake up or set an alarm for even earlier.
For their part, Romper states that most of the breastfeeding hormone prolactin is produced at night so the higher prolactin levels (which increase milk production) result in having a higher output in the morning.
It can really help your pumped milk stash to take advantage of the abundance of milk your body is giving you during those morning hours!
13 Consume Milk-Promoting Goodies
According to ExclusivePumping, taking lactation promoting herbs (such as Fenugreek) and eating old-fashioned oats can help in amplifying your milk supply. There are a variety of teas, lactation cookies (check out Pinterest for recipes!) and smoothies that can help you with your supply.
Not every technique works for every woman, so trial and error may be the best bet.
According to VeryWellFamily, drinking too little fluids can cause your milk production to tank. Making sure you do not become dehydrated can really help with your supply. Doing research on whichever of these sounds appealing to you can be beneficial to boost supply.
12 Get Support From Dad
Having good friends is nice and all, but support from your husband is just as important. Pumping can be stressful and time-consuming and having the physical and emotional support from him is crucial.
It could be super helpful to send hubby to run errands if you plan on being out for several hours so you can keep up with your pumping schedule. Explaining to him what you need from him emotionally and physically, and why, is super important.
It might not dawn on him how much you need him until you speak up, so communicate with your guy!
11 Make Mommy Friends
Being a mom is hard. Feeding your baby, regardless of how you do so, can be hard. Finding mommy friends can really help you succeed at pumping.
They can give you support, advice, resources, a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen. Finding mommy friends can be tricky, so joining local mom groups or downloading a mommy meet-up app like Peanut can help you meet people.
Even taking a trip to the local park or library story time can help you meet moms. Raising a kid takes a village, and mama needs support, and mom friends can be so helpful.
10 Get Your Facts Straight
Whether you knew from the beginning that you were going to pump, or it is a decision you made last minute, you need to educate yourself on the facts.
It is important to learn how much milk is normal to pump, how much a baby needs to eat, how to clean your breast pump parts and even how to store your milk.
In order to be as successful as you can be, read up on pumping, talk to mommy friends, talk to your lactation consultant, your OBGYN, your baby’s doctor -- anyone and everyone you want to just to be sure you have your facts straight.
9 Have The Correct Fitting Shield
According to Medela, a breast shield that is too small or too large can greatly impact the amount of milk that you put out. It is crucial to choose a breast shield that fits you correctly.
There are many websites (such as Medela) that give you guidelines to measure yourself so that you have the correct fit. It is worth taking the time to figure out the breast shield that is right for your body so that you can maximize your pumping sessions!
Even if your pump comes with breast shields, it is best to not assume they will work for every woman.
8 Buy A Pumping Bra
According to Babyishcare, a hands-free pumping bra allows you to multitask, saves time, is easy to use, and offers great support.
Moms are busy, and being able to pump milk while you write bills, fold laundry or play barbies with an older sibling can be a life saver.
Amazon, Target, Motherhood Maternity and even Walmart are some of the many stores that sell these. This is not an overly expensive product either. You can get a hands-free pumping bra between $15-30.
Trust us, you need this product. As a mama, you have a million things to do, so why not multitask?
7 Buy Extra Pump Parts And Bottles
Washing bottles and pump parts can become annoying very quickly. Buying extra bottles, nipples, and pump parts can be helpful to deal with not having to wash them so often.
It is also helpful to have extra parts and bottles if you need to quickly run out the door and don’t have time to sanitize and clean stuff in the sink.
This can be super helpful while at work so that you do not have to spend as much time washing parts during your break. Having an extra set of parts at work or in the breastfeeding bag on the go can avert a potential crisis if you forget an important piece.
6 Get Yourself Organized
Between bottles and pump parts things can get unorganized rather quickly. Creating a system to stay organized will be very helpful.
When it come to breast milk bags, BreastFeedingUsa suggests freezing milk storage bags flat to save space and make it easier to organize the freezer stash. It can be a great idea to create a pumping station at home.
You can buy a diaper caddy or use a night stand to have everything you need in the location that you pump. Your pump, extra pump parts, water bottle, breast pads, your hands free nursing bra, lactation cookies, and even your phone charger are all things you can put in your station to keep yourself organized.
5 Not Recommended: Blow Off Pumping Sessions
According to MomLovesBest, one missed session won’t kill your supply, but getting into the habit of skipping pumping sessions can hurt your supply dramatically!
Not only can your supply plummet, but you can also become at risk for getting mastitis, which is the last thing you want to deal with as a pumping or nursing mama.
If your friend stops by one day and you skip a session, it won’t do much to your body. But if you continuously skip a session or two it tells your body to stop making less milk. We know, pumping can be a pain, but it takes commitment.
4 Not Recommended: Restricting Calories
Many mamas want to lose the baby weight, but doctors recommend being careful about how you do so. If you are a calorie cutter, TheBump suggest to not dip below 1,800 calories per day. This is important so that your supply doesn’t suffer, and that baby gets the adequate nutrition she needs.
TheBump also suggests waiting at least 6-8 weeks before starting a serious workout regimen. It is advised to eat a healthy carb a half an hour before exercising to prevent a decrease in supply.
Losing weight while breastfeeding is certainly doable, but it is a bit different than if you weren’t nursing.
3 Not Recommended: Stressing out
VeryWellFamily says that psychological, emotional and physical stress can reduce the supply of breast milk. It is important as a breastfeeding or pumping mama to make sure you don’t do anything to lower your milk supply.
Sometimes stress is unavoidable or sudden- such as financial, marital or even post-partum issues. It is important to confide in people that you trust to help deal with your problems and reach out to your doctor.
We all experience stress to some extent, but prolonged and extreme stress can hurt your supply making pumping much harder. We understand that things come up, but it is important to take care of yourself.
2 Not Recommended: Consuming Too Much Caffeine
We know that consuming liquids is good for nursing- but consuming large amounts soda, coffee and tea can lower your production of breast milk, according to VeryWellFamily. This can also make your baby irritable and have sleep problems.
Supply can also be greatly affected by a baby's mood, especially if he is feeling irritable. If you do desire to consume a lot of soda or coffee during the day try to limit yourself to one or two a day or try decaffeinated coffee and sparkling water instead of soda.
Pumping can be challenging enough, so don’t set yourself up for issues and problems that can be easily avoided.
1 Not Recommended: Supplementing To Boost Supply
Some mamas find that if their baby sleeps through the night or they skip a feeling that their breasts will be fuller. It is common for moms to believe that supplementing with formula gives the breasts time to fill up.
It is also common for moms to forget to pump or think they don’t have to if they supplement. According to LivingWithLowMilkSupply, to prevent milk supply from dropping, don’t forget to pump to stimulate your breasts to make more milk.
Do not forget that even if you give baby some breast milk, you must replace that feeding with a pumping session so that your body regulates your supply. Your supply will not get better if you skip pumping. In fact, the opposite can occur.
References: Livingwithlowmilksupply.com, ExcluisvePumping.com, Medelabreastfeedingus.com, Verywellfamily.com, MayoClinic.com, MamaLovestBest.com, BreastfeedingUSA.org, Ameda, TheBump, ThePumpingMommy.com, Breastmilkcounts.com, BabyingCare.com, and Romper.