There are quite a few reasons why any woman out there may be interested in pumping breast milk for her newborn. The best thing about pumping is that the milk is available at all times, even when you’re not around. On top of it all, pumping has also shown to work wonders in terms of maintaining your milk supply.
It’s for these reasons that working women in particular prefer pumping their milk so they can be at ease while at work during the day. With pumped or ‘expressed’ milk, it becomes easily possible for the baby’s caretaker to feed him breast milk, and the mother won’t have to stress out about feeding formula to her angel. But you need to bear in mind that pumping breast milk doesn’t come easy. For that reason, here are a few tips that will help you pump easily and successfully:
15 Set your goals
Setting goals will obviously not affect your milk supply, but it will go a long way in preparing you mentally for the task ahead. See, there are plenty of reasons why women pump milk, but no matter what the reason, it’s highly recommended for you to know the exact purpose behind pumping breast milk and the amount of time for which you’re planning to do so.
For instance, know whether you wish to pump milk till the time that your premature baby is able to feed at the breast by him/herself, or are you interested in pumping so as to increase your milk supply? You might also be interested in pumping milk till the time that your little one is ready to start weaning. No matter what you are aiming for, or how long you wish to pump, set yourself a goal and be prepared both on a physical and mental basis to fulfill it.
14 Find the right pump
After figuring out your goals, it’s necessary for you to choose the right breast pump for yourself. To be honest, the right choice in this case is going to depend on factors like how often you will be using the pump, and the amount of time that you have on hand for pumping.
For instance, if you work full-time, it will be better for you to use an automatic pump so that it doesn’t take much of your time. However, if you just want to pump out a few ounces every now and then, then a manual pump is the right choice for you.
Yes, when you decide to purchase a breast pump, you will need to decide whether you are interested in using an electric or manual one. Apart from that, you’ll also be able to choose between single and double pumps. If you’re a working woman, then it’s highly recommended for you to get yourself a good quality double electric pump. Through it, you will be able to pump your milk in the most efficient manner possible. The reason why you should opt for a double pump is that it will help you save time.
13 Make sure that you attach it properly
You need to bear in mind the fact that breast pumps have particularly been designed to mimic the ways in which babies feed on their mothers’ breasts. Considering that they have specifically been designed for this purpose, there is no need for you to worrying about getting hurt by them. However, for this reason, it is necessary for you to make sure that your pump is attached properly to your breast.
The best part is that their speed and suction level can easily be adjusted as per your needs and requirements, so you don’t have anything to worry about in this regard. Also, don’t purchase a hospital-grade pump right away. Instead, there are many hospitals around that have these available to rent, so if you’re considering buying one, rent it out first to see how things go and then come to a decision.
12 Learn everything about your breast pump
Once you’ve purchased a pump, it’s extremely important for you to learn how it has to be used. When you learn how to operate it, it’ll be possible for you to see your body’s reaction to it. In case you think that the output being offered by your pump is not really adequate, feel free to make adjustments to the number of cycles per minute and/or the suction level.
Also, before pumping, you need to pump yourself up a bit too. For this purpose, try to visualize flowing rivers or mountain streams making their way towards the ocean while you’re pumping. While you’re at it, try to listen to a bit of music to minimize distractions.
11 Don’t stress or feel disappointed
When you start pumping, there’s a good chance that you’ll only be able to acquire a little bit of milk. However, this in no way means that you should be disappointed or feel discouraged about the whole thing.
The best means of going about things is for you to find a way in which you can be completely relaxed while pumping. Even basic things like a breast massage and a bit of compression using a warm compresses can work wonders in this regard. However, with time, it’s necessary for you to learn about your best triggers so that you can continue using them while pumping.
10 Figure out your magic number
Every woman out there has different pumping requirements that are in sync with her baby’s feeding needs. If truth be told, any woman who decides to pump her breastmilk has what is known as a ‘magic number’ that denotes the number of pumping sessions that need to be performed on a daily basis to maintain a smooth milk supply. But the fact of the matter is that it’s going to take a while for you to work out this particular magic number. To be honest, all of this is fairly dependent upon factors including:
- The amount of milk required
- Your baby’s age
- Your breast’s storage capacity
- The number of feedings that your baby needs to have a full tummy
- Whether or not your baby is getting formula along with breast milk
9 How often and how long should you pump?
To put it simply, you need to pump as often as your baby feeds. However, it may not be practical or feasible enough for you to do so. For this reason, it’s best that you work out a schedule that will work for you as per your availability. However, make sure that you set your schedule so that your precious bundle of joy has adequate amounts of milk available at all times.
There are a few things you can do in order to enhance your milk flow to make sure you get enough. To begin, add in a couple more pumping sessions into your schedule. Apart from that, it’s highly recommended for you remain focused on pumping and refrain from multitasking.
Also, consider using different techniques that can boost your output, including a breast massage and the use of warm compressors. If possible, you should also get up a few times in the night for pumping purposes so that your breasts don’t leak and waste your milk. Moreover, in order to enhance milk production, it’s best for you to pump 10-15 minutes about six times on a daily basis.
8 Put your breast pump to good use
There are many different ways through which you can maximize your time with your breast pump and make the most of it. For starters, make sure that you properly lubricate the breast pump horns. This can easily be done with a bit of vegetable oil or lanolin cream.
Also, each time you pump, make sure that you do both breasts at once. When you pump on one side, the other ‘free’ breast might leak a little milk. Instead of wasting all that milk, just pump it as well. The best part is that doing so will enhance the working of the hormones that are responsible for milk production. Also, when pumping, try to lean a bit forward so that gravity assists your milk and flows easily into the pump.
7 Overcome any problems that you may experience
It isn’t easy to pump breast milk and there’s no guarantee whatsoever that the experience will be smooth. No matter the sort of problems you face, it’s best for you to try to overcome them instead of giving up.
It’s best for you to first rule out whether there’s a problem with your pump, in case you think your pump isn’t extracting all of the milk present in your breast. Apart from problems with your pump, other issues like sore nipples, blocked or plugged ducts and mastitis etc. can come up as well. Even if you experience an urge to give up, don’t give into it. Stick to your decision and keep on pumping!
6 Don’t prolong pumping
It’s highly recommended for you to start pumping breast milk as soon as possible – the sooner, the better. According to experts, the more milk that you pump out in the first three weeks after having your baby, the better the milk supply you will have over time. Also, you should aim to pump as frequently as your baby would be feeding at the breast. To stay well-prepared, you may end up pumping every two hours!
Also, you need to gather as much support and help as possible while pumping. If need be, feel free to speak to a supportive lactation consultant. However, for plain encourage and support, just connect with other exclusively pumping mothers who might be in the same situation as you are.
5 Massage your breasts before pumping
Yes, lactation experts actually recommend for women to massage their breasts before pumping. For this, you need to start at the armpit and make use of the fingertips of your opposite hand to make small circles on the breast tissue found in that one spot.
Once you’re done, move your hand just slightly and do it again. Make sure that you work your way around the breast and make your way down towards the areola in a spiral pattern. Finish the massage with a series of long strokes from the chest wall down to the areola, again working your way around the entire breast. Then massage the other breast. If your milk flow slows down during a pumping session, a few minutes of breast massage is one of the most helpful breast pumping tips that may help get it going again.
4 Limit or avoid giving formula to your baby
Feeding formula to your baby is just going to reduce his demand for breast milk. This is going to impact you negatively considering that it will further lower your milk production. In order to maintain your supply of breast milk, it’s best for you to pump anytime your baby has a feeding of expressed or pumped breast milk.
You need to bear in mind the fact that the more you breastfeed your baby or pump while you're apart, the more milk you'll produce. You might also pump extra milk — either after or between breastfeeding sessions — and freeze it for future use.
3 Look after yourself
When pumping breast milk, it’s of utmost importance for you to take good care of yourself. To begin with, make sure that you eat a healthy diet. For this, you will need to have plenty of fruits, whole grains and vegetables, and regular physical activity should be a part of your daily routine. Also, try to sleep whenever your baby sleeps. While you’re at it, if you need help with something, don’t hesitate to ask your loved ones for it.
You should also consider your birth control options while breastfeeding. Do not consider breastfeeding a reliable or effective form of birth control, because it isn’t. Also, birth control pills that contain estrogen can interfere with milk production. While you're breastfeeding, you might want to use condoms or other forms of birth control.
2 Establish on-the-job breaks
If you plan on giving breast milk to your baby after you return to work, it’s best for you to speak with your supervisor or a representative from the human resources department at least a few weeks before your maternity leave comes to an end. This is basically meant to help them make accommodations to meet your breast pumping needs.
Get in touch with your employer and work out a schedule in which you are assigned breaks to pump breast milk. If possible, ask your employer for a private, clean room with a sink and a door that locks.
1 Store your milk properly
Once you’ve pumped, you should use clean screw-top bottles or specially designed milk storage bags that are BPA-free in order to hold the milk that you’ve just pumped. While you’re at it, make sure that you label all the containers by date so that the oldest one is always used first.
If possible, try to store milk in single-serving sizes of 2-4 ounces. If you pump at work, be sure to keep your pumped milk chilled until you're able to bring it home. After pumping at work, use a refrigerator or an insulated thermos or cooler with plenty of ice packs in order to keep the milk cold while you’re at work.