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15 Things Women Don't Realize Make Pumping Harder

Breastfeeding and pumping. Seriously how many times do moms hear those words when she announces that she's pregnant? The truth? Too many. People often talk about breastfeeding as a natural and easy action for all mothers, as if it were just holding a kid in her arms and putting their mouth to the right spot and Eureka! But sometimes the reality is far away from that. Breastfeeding is not as easy a task as it is shown on television or in books. It is a process that takes time. And while it is easier for some women than others, each experience is different.

As women we have heard so many times how important it is to give a child the milk mothers produce and the great benefits it brings to children and moms. So moms start feeling that great pressure to achieve it the first time, and when the situation goes in the opposite direction many women are distressed. They feel frustrated with themselves because somehow they feel that they are not fulfilling their role as mother. But moms should not let guilt bother them. The truth is that in most cases breastfeeding is not easy and neither is pumping. It takes time to achieve it, and sometimes there are many things moms do (without knowing) in their routines that make it more difficult to do both. For this reason, today we will discuss 15 things that mothers are doing and do not realize that is making the whole process more difficult for them and their children. We will also talk about ways to solve it and make the process of breast pumping easier.

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15 Not Researching Before Beginning The Process

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Knowing what we are getting into is fundamental, because after giving birth women are usually exhausted and in pain, in addition to all those hormones and having to learn to create a routine with our baby. So it's not the best time to all of a sudden decide to learn everything regarding breastfeeding and breast pumping, especially the task takes many tries before getting it right.

For this reason the Bump website suggests that it is best to start looking for information as soon as possible, that’s why we should use that period of 9 months to read everything we think we need to know, and if future parents can, they should enroll in classes where they would get all the information they need to be explained in detail. This kind of program is an excellent option because parents can clarify any doubts that may arise along the way.

Other options include asking their doctor, looking for online forums, watching tutorials on YouTube or talking with other mothers about it because they can give us advice based on personal experience.

All this information that mothers will accumulate during 9 months will serve them so that after birth when they really have to face this process they will have a previous idea of what can happen and will have the knowledge to know how to act in each circumstance.

14 Skip The Instructional Manual

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Normally when we buy an electronic product or any product, we avoid reading the instruction manual because we assume that what we buy is easy to use and super intuitive. And maybe with some things we can do that, but when it comes to  our pump, it is best to read the instruction manual and really pay attention to what it says.

Not all pumps are the same, and according to the Mom Loves Best website, a common mistake among mothers is that they often confuse the extraction mode button with the massage button, or even miss out on certain features offered by the pump they bought simply because they did not read the instructions before starting to use it .

The downside of not reading the instructions is that we can cause unnecessary pain by not using the equipment correctly and we can even damage the milk supply.

It can also happen that we do not completely empty the milk supply in each session, which can cause us to stop generating enough milk. For this reason, it is best to take the time to read the instructions to achieve excellent performance without pain.

13 Not Paying Attention To Size

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When it comes to Breast Pumps many moms-to-be do not take enough time to research the brands and the different options that are on the market, so they usually choose the first product they see or the one that someone recommended them without really investigating in detail. And the reality is that size does matter.

It's like buying a bra in the wrong size: it will fulfill its function, but only kind of. That's why it is important to find the right one for us.

LactApp explains that although there are mothers who have the ability to express their milk in 3 simple steps and can achieve it even with the worst pump in the market, that is not the case for all moms. There are brands that have more ergonomic designs and are more suitable for our bodies so they can imitate the suction of the baby by reproducing the suction cycles and extraction power.

We must also consider that women do not have a standard nipple measurement; there are women with small, large, or very large nipples, so it is necessary to find the right cup for our body. An improper cup can hinder extraction and damage the nipple. To know which cup is appropriate, it is necessary to measure the diameter of the face of the nipple at rest and add 2mm.

12 Waiting Too Long To Start

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According to Cathy Carothers, IBCLC, breastfeeding consultant and co-director of Every Mother Inc. "The senses of babies - their seeing, hearing, smelling and touching - intensify in that first hour after birth. And when they are allowed to use those senses to hook themselves, the way they are instinctively connected, they tend to latch on properly," which is why it is important for mothers immediately after birth to hold the baby, then curl up and try to breastfeed. This gesture will help to make the breastfeeding and breast pumping process easier the next time it is tried.

In that first hour, the woman's body will produce a special milk called colostrum, which will help protect your baby against infections.

This is like learning to swim: to do it, people must dive in the water. In this case, the same thing happens: if we do not practice or we don't try to do it,  we can not achieve it.

Nobody expects that at first it would be easy or that mothers would achieve it the first time, but we should go ahead and try to get the baby to breastfeed our milk and then we should try breast pumping at home to store that milk and give it to our baby later. This action will help milk flow through our breasts more naturally and not get encapsulated, which can cause engorged breasts and pain in many cases. For this reason, it is advisable to start practicing as soon as possible after having given birth to avoid such complications.

11 Not Eating Right

Many mothers sometimes forget this detail: we are what we eat. It's essential to take care of what we eat because those nutrients will be transmitted to the baby during breastfeeding. In addition, mothers should make sure that what we are eating is good for our baby because some foods, such as garlic, irritate the baby's belly.

According to the website Mom Loves Best, having a balanced diet helps mothers to be stronger, have more energy, and be able to cope with her new day-to-day life as a mom. A broad and balanced diet allows all those good nutrients that have been acquired through food to be consumed by the baby through milk, but this also helps to make the milk extraction process easier, especially if the mother maintains a breastfeeding and extraction schedule.

Continuous stimulation and good foods will make mother produce more milk and breast pumping will become less painful or complicated.

And yes, we know that it is complicated by all the things we have to do, plus start thinking about making a balanced market purchase and cooking, that's why it is advisable before the arrival of the baby to talk about this type of details with our partner and organize a plan, whether if our partner decided to be responsible for the cooking, have the help of a family member or decide to hire someone to help us at home.

10 Not Drinking Enough Water

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Every detail matters. Not only should mothers in the process of breastfeeding think about what they eat, but also how well hydrated they are. According to the website Mom Loves Best staying hydrated is also important for the production of breast milk and facilitates its extraction.

While most pregnant women should consume about 10 cups of fluids per day, breastfeeding or nursing mothers need more than 13 cups of fluids per day.

These are processes where we must take care of every detail because there is no magic or instantaneous solution. Moms must take care of their food, eat at a set time, stay hydrated, sleep well and maintain schedules. One schedule for breastfeeding the baby and one to perform the extraction. These schedules make the process easier for us because next to that constant stimulation and the nutrients that we are giving to our body we will avoid that milk gets encapsulate in our breasts or engorged, and we must remember that when those things happen it make the extraction of the milk more difficult.

But we know that when you are a mother it is very easy to lose track of time, so it is advisable to always have a bottle of water or juice in the room where you spend more time with the baby. Keeping the water bottle nearby will make it easy for us to remember that we should drink water.

9 Not Having Learned To Read The Signs

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From the moment our babies are born, we must learn to read the signs when they are hungry. According to Cathy Carothers, IBCLC, breastfeeding consultant and co-director of Every Mother Inc,

“When you see baby chewing on his hands, making mouthing motions, or turning his head from side to side and bringing his hands to his face, he’s telling you, ‘I’m starting to get hungry’ or ‘I want to be near you,’” she explains.

When you respond to those cues, baby learns to continue giving them, and you can feed baby before he starts crying. Once baby cries, he’s no longer just hungry; he’s mad and hungry, and that can make breastfeeding much more difficult for both of you.

By learning to read those signals that our children express to us, we can create schedules or spaces where we can breastfeed more comfortably and then be able to perform the extraction more easily. These details are essential because it is easier to breastfeed our child in a state of "calm" than when he is already absolutely upset because he is hungry, if we are stressed we can not extract the same amount of milk even if we try with the pump, so it is important to learn to know our children, create routines and try to make continuous extractions because this will allow our body to get used to it and everything would be easier.

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8 Not Pumping Frequently

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The truth is that for many women out there breastfeeding and breast pumping milk is really unpleasant, and unfortunately, due to that experience they stop trying because it hurts them. They get frustrated when they see that their babies cannot nurse their milk and leave this task behind. But that's the worst thing we can do, especially because the milk that we do not extract is encapsulated and generates more pain, which makes breasts become inflamed.

But this process is about practice, practice and more practice. The more times we try, the more our body will get used to the process, and practice will make the process easier over time.

According to the Mom Loves Best website, women who are struggling with pumping milk should try it with a frequency of 12 times every 24 hours for an average of 20 minutes each session to completely drain their breasts.

While women who have already caught the rhythm and are pumping exclusively must do it between 8 to 10 times every 24 hours, also for 20 minutes, and once a high level of milk production has been reached it can be reduced from 10 to 15 minutes each session.

7 Not Getting Enough Sleep

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Sleep...probably after the arrival of the baby, we will think that sleep will become that activity that we can never do again. And although it seems impossible at first to try to create a routine with our newborn baby, we should try to rest, whether our partners help us with the baby while we rest a couple of minutes or if we seek the help of a relative or third party to be with us the first months. But undoubtedly, we need to find a way to rest during the day or night.

And according to the website Mom Loves Best there is no magic number regarding the number of sleep hours that a woman who is breastfeeding needs, but she should try to be as close as possible to a full night sleep. That means getting as close as we can to 8 hours sleeping.

If we discover that we are awake with the baby constantly during the night hours, we should try to nap during the day and let our partner help us with the baby.

At first, it may seem very difficult especially because the baby depends on us most of the time, but getting enough sleep is essential to have energy and it helps us to have a better milk production. If we do not rest enough, our body will accumulate that tension and will manifest it in not allowing us to breastfeed or breast pumping, among other problems.

6 Not Using Massages And Breast Compressions

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As I explained above, each experience is different for each woman, and for some, breastfeeding becomes a complicated task, but there are certain tricks and things we can do to facilitate the process and will help us to extract milk in a not complicated way. However, there is no magic formula. We can not will snap our fingers and expect that immediately the milk will come out. But doing all these little things, like taking care of our diet and staying hydrated, trying to sleep at the right times, doing the extractions frequently as its suggested, and buying the right breast pump will make our breastfeeding process more bearable and less painful. Everything is a matter of patience and will involve trying a thousand times until finally, our body adapts.

According to the website Mom Loves Best, one of the methods that help when we are breastfeeding is massages and breast compressions. This helps to get more milk and completely empty our breasts of liquid.

The website explains that we should add these methods during our daily routine because it helps to avoid clogged milk ducts. 

When milk ducts are clogged, the flow of breast milk is decreased and when these surrounding ducts or sources collapse it affects the production of milk and can cause mastitis, a very painful breast infection.

5 Not Having A Schedule

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Have a schedule probably sounds crazy. We just gave birth, our body is still recovering and we have a newborn baby in our arms, how are we going to create a breastfeeding schedule? Well, we must figure out because experts say that creating a schedule will help us in the long term to make breastfeeding and breast pumping a simpler process. It will teach our body, step by step, how to handle the extraction of milk, and the more times we do it the more we will create milk and it will be easier to extract it. And although spontaneity is okay, sometimes it can happen that we forget to extract milk. With a schedule we can avoid this type of carelessness.

The website Mom Loves Best recommends that mothers who want to only breast pumping and want to extract as much milk as they can, the best way to do it is setting a schedule.

They explain that the first two weeks are the hardest because mothers are getting used to it and can lose track of time because it is advisable to pump every two hours to increase our milk production (during those 2 first weeks).

If the mother manages to plan an exclusive pumping schedule, the whole process will be easier and she will be able to carry out other activities in the free spaces. And although forgetting a pumping session will not make our milk supply go dryhaving the habit of skipping these sessions can cause damage to our milk supply drastically as it engorges, which prevents us from concentrating or from performing the extraction process due to the strong pain and the sensation of pressure.

4 Stress

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Stress can be reflected in our body in a thousand negative ways, so we must always learn to detect when we are stressed and find solutions that will help us to relax. Because otherwise, excessive stress can trigger various physical and emotional disorders that can affect our health. In the case of women in lactation, stress is the worst enemy they can have because it affects the production of breast milk.

If we are stressed we can not extract milk and consequently, the process will be more painful.

So it is recommended that mothers create a kind of ritual each time they are going to start breast pumping because by creating environments where we feel comfortable and relaxed, the whole process will be easier.

We should try to find things that make us get in a zen mode, such as listening to relaxing music, sitting on the sofa or bed where we are more comfortable and can lean forward, preparing a snack before starting, reading a good book or watching our favorite television show to keep us entertained. These types of activities, as simple as they may seem, if they allow us to stay relaxed, will help us to extract more milk and entertain ourselves while we are doing it.

3 Not Using The Baby To Stimulate Our Letdown Reflex

Believe it or not, many mothers focus on external solutions to try to extract more milk and get a better performance when they are breast pumping their milk but what they do not realize is that sometimes the best solutions are right in front of their noses, such as using our babies to achieve the stimulation necessary to get our letdown reflex work and get the milk. The flow of the liquid is controlled by a natural reflection that all mothers have, which is why the website Mom Loves Best suggested the technique skin to skin, what basically means put the baby's mouth to our nipples and wait. Other things that we can do is smell our baby, even just cuddle our child and look at him. This could help us to relax and help the milk to flow through our breasts. Also, we can massage our breasts or place a warm wet cloth on our breasts to help improve our milk flow.

The important thing here is to discover what works for us, and it is fundamental to try to do it in a moment of calm and tranquility (although sometimes it sounds impossible). But usually the best help we can have is our baby.

Every time we see that our child presents the signals that they are hungry we should try to place it in our arms to breastfeed them. After the baby has worked with the suction process it is easier for us to extract the milk and store it for later.

However, the secret of these tricks lies in patience and repetition, and that is the mistake that many first-time mothers make, they try a couple of times and wait for a magic solution as if it were just snapping their fingers, and when they do not see a result immediately they become frustrated and abandon.

2 Not Pumping In The Morning

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Previously we talked about the importance of creating breastfeeding and breast-pumping schedules, and we mentioned how this helps milk production to be more efficient and prevent it from being encapsulated in our breasts, as opposed to doing it spontaneously because we always run the risk of forgetting to extract our milk and then having to face the discomfort of having swollen breasts or collapsing the surrounding ducts that allow milk to flow.

But according to many experts, pumping milk in the morning, between 1.00 a.m. and 5.00 a.m is the maximum period of prolactin.

And yes, it may sound like a disastrous idea to think about getting up at that time just to breast pump, but if we manage to organize our time and our baby is cooperating by sleeping, we may try to sleep as much as we can and schedule our alarm to get up and pump that milk. Mom Loves Best explains that when women wake up early they tend to have more milk because their stores have had more time to accumulate the liquid since the last extraction, so it is advisable to try to get that milk out and store it. But after doing so they will notice how they are calmer, they will feel better and help them to cope with the rest of the morning because our breasts will not be so full of milk

1 Not Pumping And Nursing At The Same Time

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Pumping during breastfeeding may sound complicated at first, but as everything is a matter of practice. One of the great advantages of doing this is that we have the natural stimulus that our baby generates when he is sucking the milk which helps to make it easier for the flow of milk from our other breast to come out while we are pumping. In this case, it is best to buy one of those hands-free bras, so we will avoid feeling that we need to become an octopus with thousands of arms to achieve it. These bras have the advantage that allows the mother to play freely with her arms and pay more attention to the baby than the pump.

The most recommended in this case is to find a place where we feel comfortable, preferably in bed with a pillow under our baby while we hold them, and also try to find a position in which we feel comfortable. At first, it may seem complicated but after trying it several times we will notice the advantages it has and how this process will help us to generate more milk so we could avoid doing the process twice or separately. It is always recommended that the first few times we try this have our husband or relative near us to help us.

References: Thebump.com, Momlovesbest.com, Lactapp.esllli.org

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