How To Make Pumping More Comfortable – 11 Genius Tips
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HOW TO MAKE PUMPING MORE COMFORTABLE – 11 GENIUS TIPS
Do you hate pumping? Pumping is not usually described as one of the more fun things a new mom does. But it shouldn’t be uncomfortable. Whether you only pump occasionally or you are exclusively pumping, these 11 tips for how to make pumping more comfortable will make your pumping sessions more pleasant.
There are different ways to express your milk. This blog post focuses on pumping with an electric breast pump. An electric pump is usually going to be the best choice for working moms and moms exclusively pumping.
If you want to learn about hand expression, you’ll want to read How To Hand Express Breast Milk – And Why You Should. Spoiler alert – it can help optimize breast milk production.
For now, let’s get to those tips for more comfortable pumping.
GET A GOOD PUMP
Not all pumps are created equal. And not one pump is going to be perfect for every mom.
Ask your breastfeeding friends what pump they use. Ask what they like about it and what they don’t like about it.
Check Amazon for ratings and reviews. Whether you love Amazon or not, it’s got a lot of data that can be useful to you. Read several of the reviews.
Check out the features of the pump you are considering.
- Does it have a stimulation mode and an expression mode?
- What kind of range in suction levels does it have?
- Does it have any kind of memory setting?
- Can you individualize the settings for each side? The Spectra Synergy Gold Dual Adjustable Electric Breast Pump allows you to do this.
Different breast pump brands often have more than one type of pump for the breastfeeding mom to choose. So be sure to explore all of your options.
Unless you are certain that your nipples are average size, you will want a pump with different size breast flanges available. The standard size is around 24 mm. More on this in the next section.
Fun fact – some women’s nipples will swell when they pump. It’s a good idea for any woman to get a pump with a variety of breast pump flange sizes.
Breast pump flanges may also be referred to as breast pump shields or breast shields, not to be confused with a nipple shield or breast shields for flat/inverted or sore nipples.
HAVE THE RIGHT SIZE FLANGE SIZE FOR PUMPING
Using the correct breast shield size is one of the most important ways to make pumping more comfortable. But the right flange size not only affects comfort. The wrong size flange can result in expressing a reduced milk volume.
If you are exclusively pumping, using the wrong size flange can result in a decreased milk supply.
Your nipples should not rub against the breast shield tunnel. You should see only a tiny amount of areolar breast tissue being pulled into the tunnel.
If you are not sure what size is right for you, a lactation specialist can help you figure it out.
USE THE RIGHT LEVEL OF SUCTION
More is not always better when deciding what level of breast pump suction you need.
Pump manufacturers recommend using the highest setting that is comfortable. I always clarify that the highest setting that is comfortable is not the same as the highest that you can tolerate.
When you are just getting started with pumping, you want to start at the lowest setting and then increase it until it feels just slightly too strong. At that point, turn it back to where it is comfortable.
- After a few minutes of pumping, you may find that you can comfortably turn the suction to a higher setting.
- After you pump for some time, you may find that a higher suction is still in your comfortable range.
- As you get used to pumping, you can probably start with the suction setting that is the highest that you find comfortable.
- If you find that you need to keep increasing the suction over time, you may need to replace some of the pump parts that can wear out. Check your manufacturer’s recommendations for this.
There is a phenomenon that lactation consultants call Purple Pumping. It is when the suction is turned up so high a mom’s nipples turn purple. If your nipples are turning purple, chances are good you need to decrease the suction level.
Comfortable pumping is not just about your pump and what you do with it. Think about making yourself comfortable before you even reach for your pump.
Get in a comfortable position.
- Sit in a comfortable chair
- Avoid hunching over.
- Using a nursing stool like the Leachco Rock N Soft Cushioned Nursing Stool can help you maintain good posture. It has a cozy place to tuck your feet on the colder days.
- A breastfeeding pillow can give you a place to rest your arms if you don’t have a hands-free pumping garment like the Momcozy Hands Free Pumping Bra.
- For adequate back support, use a lumbar support pillow.
- Using a shoulder heating pad can help keep you relaxed, which helps your milk let down.
USE A HANDS-FREE PUMPING BRA
A hands-free pumping bra or tank is hands down a favorite pumping accessory.
This handy garment will hold your pump flanges in place, allowing you to do hands-on pumping, which research has shown can increase both the volume of milk you pump and the number of calories in the milk (Source).
I suspect the reason for the increased calories is hands-on pumping gets more of the hindmilk out. Hind milk is higher in fat and therefore higher in calories
Kindred Bravely makes very high quality hands-free pumping bras and tanks.
LUBRICATE YOUR PUMP FLANGES
Putting a little bit of lanolin on your pump flanges can be game-changing in terms of pumping comfort.
When it comes to nipple ointments, I like to keep it simple. I like Medela Purelan for its thinner consistency. Moms say it is less messy and easier to wash off of pump parts than traditional lanolin formulation.
Some moms prefer to use a little coconut oil as their lubricant of choice. I am not a fan of any nipple cream or butters that have a multitude of ingredients in them.
HAVE A PUMPING ROUTINE
Having a routine around pumping makes things go smoother.
- Try pumping in the same place. This will make it easier to keep your supplies all in one place.
- Pumping at the same time may help with the let-down.
- Have everything you need close by. Moms who pump on the regular will want to create a pumping station.
- If you are pumping at work or school, prepare your pumping bag the night before so you don’t forget anything.
BREAST MASSAGE BEFORE PUMPING
To encourage a faster let-down, you will want to spend a few minutes doing some breast massage before you start pumping.
You can start at the outer edges of your breasts and stroke down towards the nipple. Alternatively, you can massage in a circular motion in each of the four quadrants of your breasts.
CONSIDER USING ALTERNATIVE FLANGES
Most breast pump flanges are made of hard plastic.
If you have tried most of the tips I have mentioned here, before trying a different pump, you may want to try getting some pump flanges that are made of more flexible material.
There are several options available.
The Medela PersonalFit Flex Breast Shields come in four different sizes. Medela states these flanges get 11.8% more milk out.
- Small – 21 mm
- Medium – 24 mm
- Large – 27 mm
- Extra large – 30 mm
Lansinoh ComfortFit Breast Pump Flanges have a flexible rim. They come in five sizes and are compatible with Lansinoh pumps.
- 21 mm
- 25 mm
- 28 mm
- 30.5 mm
- 36 mm
Another product that can make pumping more comfortable is The BeauGen Breast Pump Cushions. This gadget goes inside your flange and reduces friction when pumping. If you are between pump flange sizes, these can also help create a better fit.
CONSIDER A DIFFERENT PUMP
If the pump you have is not comfortable and you have tried all the comfortable pumping tips and tricks, you might want to consider investing in a different pump.
This suggestion is admittedly a more expensive option than the other tips I’ve provided. But if you are dreading pumping, it may just be what allows you to continue providing expressed breast milk to your little one when needed.
You should definitely consider this if you are using an older pump. Breast pump technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the years.
Spectra pumps get excellent reviews.
WEAR PUMPING FRIENDLY CLOTHES
There is nothing worse than sitting down to pump and finding your wardrobe choices require you to practically disrobe entirely. This is especially true when you are at work.
When getting dressed, think about how easy or how difficult your fashion picks for the day will make pumping.
While it is not necessary to have special breastfeeding clothes, you will want items that give you easy access to your breasts.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW HOW TO MAKE PUMPING MORE COMFORTABLE
The benefits of breast milk are many. The more breast milk a baby gets, the more they will reap those benefits. While it may not seem like a big deal to give a bottle of formula once in a while, any amount of formula changes the pH of a baby’s gut and encourages the growth of less than desirable bacteria.
Being able to pump comfortably will make it more likely that a mom will continue pumping to provide her little one with her valuable breast milk when she is not available to breastfeed.
If a mom is exclusively pumping, comfortable pumping is essential. It can help her meet her breastfeeding goals.
It’s important to stimulate your breasts regularly to maintain your breast milk supply.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON HOW TO MAKE PUMPING MORE COMFORTABLE
Whether you are experiencing painful breast pumping or are just looking to make pumping breast milk more enjoyable, I hope these tips help you with your breastfeeding journey.
If you have tried everything and are still dreading your breast pumping sessions, then I urge you to meet with a lactation consultant.