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BREAST PUMP TIPS AND TRICKS – THE SECRETS TO GETTING MORE MILK
There is a breast pumping revolution taking place. 85% of breastfeeding moms will use a breast pump by the time their baby is five months old (Source).
- A mom may pump once.
- She may pump every few hours for the entire time she breastfeeds.
- Women pump for relief from engorgement
- A mama may pump to get milk for a relief bottle.
- She may pump to create a breast milk stash.
- Lots of moms pump regularly at work.
Whatever the reason is for pumping, moms want the breast pump tips and tricks to do it fast, get a lot of milk, and she wants it to be comfortable. I’m going to give you the secrets to all three.
PUMPING TIP #1 – CHOOSE THE RIGHT TYPE OF PUMP
- Not all pumps are created equal. A good pump is worth every penny.
- Either rent a pump or get a new one.
- Some pumps are better than others. Do your research.
- Personal pumps you buy are generally intended for the mom with the established milk supply.
- It takes 4-6 weeks to establish your milk supply.
- If your insurance company provides you with a breast pump take advantage of this benefit. Most insurance providers will give you one pump for each baby if three years have passed.
- If it has been less than three years, it is worth the money to get a new one if your last pump was used with average frequency.
Do not use someone else’s used pump.
Just don’t do it.
- Bacteria and viruses can be transmitted through breast pumps.
- Breast pump motors wear out. A motor that is not working at optimum function can result in poor milk production.
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BREAST PUMPING TIPS TO GET MORE MILK
PUMPING TIP #2 – TIME OF DAY CAN AFFECT HOW MUCH MILK YOU PUMP
Your milk production varies throughout the day. How much milk you will get when you pump will differ too.
- Most moms have the most milk in the morning hours.
The milk-making hormone, prolactin is at it’s highest levels in the very early morning hours.
But who wants to pump at two in the morning? If a mom is up a that hour feeding her little one, she wants to get back to sleep as soon as she can.
If you are one of those night people, go for it!
If you’re not a person, who functions well, or happily, in the middle of the night, pick a more civilized morning feeding time.No doubt, you have several to choose from.
PUMPING TIP #3 – DON’T TAKE FOOD AWAY FROM YOUR BABY’S NEXT MEAL
Moms often ask if they should pump before or after breastfeeding. Many moms pump between feedings because they get a lot of milk.
You will get more milk. But that is because you are taking milk away from your baby’s next meal. You don’t want that.
The best time to pump is right after a feeding.
If you pump after a feeding, you are only taking the leftovers.
BREAST PUMPING TIP TO INCREASE MILK SUPPLY
PUMPING TIP #4 – PUMP AT THE SAME TIME OF DAY
If you pump every day at the same time of day your supply should increase at that time of day.
The first time you pump right after a feeding it is possible that you may not get very much milk.
If you consistently pump at the same time of day you will probably get more after a few days.
PUMPING TIP #5 – DO HANDS-ON PUMPING
Massaging and compressing your breasts during pumping results in pumping more milk (Source).
Using a pumping bra like the mom favorite Simple Wishes Signature Hands Free Pumping Bra will make this easy for moms.
PUMPING TIPS FOR OCCASIONAL PUMPING
PUMPING TIP #6 – PUMP WHILE BREASTFEEDING
Pumping at the same time you are breastfeeding is a time-saving breast pump tip.
This is a breast pump tip for the mom with a good milk supply. This pumping tip can be tricky at first, but with practice will get easier.
You can use an electric pump or a manual pump, like the mom in the picture.
- Moms love the Haaka manual pump for this. I love that it is a low-tech, inexpensive product.
Back in the day (waaaay back) I used a single, battery operated pump and pumped while breastfeeding all the time. I didn’t use that pump because it was a great pump. It was pretty much the only pump available that wasn’t just a manual pump.
Thankfully, today’s moms have much better pumping options.
PUMPING TIPS FOR WORKING MOMS
PUMPING TIP #7 – REPLACE WORN OUT PUMP PARTS
Working moms are pumping every day, several times a day. They really need a good pump that is working at optimum function.
A hint that your pump is not working to its max is if you notice you are getting less milk.
When a pump starts to slack it is often because one of it’s parts needs to be replaced.
On some Medela pumps, those little white membranes and yellow valves are often the culprit to poor suction. My advice is to have several spares in your pump bag.
Even if you just replaced them, change them out again if still aren’t getting good suction. Even brand-new things can be defective.
I’ve learned that the hard way by being stubborn and thinking, “It can’t possibly be that because it’s brand new!” And sure enough, it was “that.”
PUMPING TIP #8 – CONSIDER A HANDS-FREE PUMP
A hands-free pump like the Willow Pump can make the difference between being able to pump frequently enough and having to raid your freezer stash.
A mom I have helped loves her Willow Pump.
PUMPING TIP # 9 – GET A PUMPING TANK TOP
A hands-free pumping tank top is another great time-saving tip for breast pumping. It ranks right up there as one of the most useful breast pumping accessories for a working mom.
I found this amazing item Classic Hands-Free Pump&Nurse all-in-one Nursing Tank with built in hands-free pumping bra .
If you have the budget, I would buy enough to wear one every day. If you have a more frugal budget, you can make one.
It will save you time in terms of putting it on and taking it off, and be one less thing to pack, which means one less thing to forget.
Tanks are something that can be used when you are no longer breastfeeding. I find that tanks allow me to wear a lot of tops that are just too low cut for the workplace.
BREAST PUMP TIPS FOR MOMS WHO ARE EXCLUSIVELY PUMPING
My post, Exclusively Pumping – Everything That You Need To Consider addresses the unique needs of these moms.
BREAST PUMP TIPS FOR COMFORT
PUMPING TIP# 10 – USE THE RIGHT SIZE PUMP FLANGE FOR YOUR NIPPLES
The correct flange fit is important for both comfort and getting the most milk.
Flanges are also called breast shields. Same thing, different name. It is the part of the pump that comes in contact with your breast.
Not all pumps have different sizes available. My advice is to get a pump that can accommodate different nipple sizes.
Your nipples should not rub against the sides of the flange. The flange should allow for a small bit of the areola to be pulled in.
PUMPING TIP #11 – PUT SOME LUBRICANT ON THE INSIDE OF THE PUMP FLANGE
One of the best pumping tips I have learned is that putting a tiny bit of lanolin on the inside of the flange, right where it bends. This will make pumping infinitely more comfortable.
PUMPING TIPS I DO NOT RECOMMEND
- Not washing your pump between pumping sessions. At the very least you will want a quick rinse with cool water and then a longer rinse with hot water.
- Pumping into already expressed milk, unless it was within the last 4 hours and was not refrigerated. You want to avoid changing the temperature of the milk repeatedly as this encourages bacterial growth.
GUIDELINES FOR MILK STORAGE TIMES
This isn’t technically a pumping tip, but I get asked this all the time.
This is from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (yes, there is an organization by that name; how cool is that?).
|Room Temp up to 85°||4 hours||6-8 hours|
|Insulated cooler bag||24 hours||None given|
|Refrigerator||4 days||5-8 days|
|Freezer||6 months||6-12 months|
ONE LAST THOUGHT ON PUMPING TIPS
Most women use a breast pump at one time or another. These breast pump tips should help you do it faster, get more milk and do it more comfortably.
Do you have any other pumping tips that you would like to share? Please tell us in the comments section.
BREAST PUMP TIPS AND TRICKS
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Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC
Andrea has been working with new families as an RN for over 35 years and a Lactation Consultant for over 25 years.
She has her MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation.