Are you expecting a baby and just researching breastfeeding and pumping ideas to keep in mind for later? have you have tried desperately to breastfeed your baby and spent many feeding sessions with a crying baby in your arms while on the verge of tears yourself? Have you have been breastfeeding successfully, but now you need to go back to work, or just want to build up a freezer stock of milk for future use? Are you the significant other of a lactating mom and looking for ways to make her life easier?
The answer to any of the questions above do not really matter, because, whatever your reasons are, you can improve your pumping sessions by browsing through the breast milk pumping tips below.
Choosing the right breast pump is the first step in having successful pumping sessions. Although there are quite a few brands out there, there are actually only a few different types of breast pumps.
- Manual Pumps- these types of pumps require you to squeeze a lever or handle repetitively in order to express milk. These are great for portability and are much less expensive than electric pumps. You have complete control over the speed of the pump, but it can become tiresome very quickly. It is possible to pump both breasts at the same time using two pumps, however it is more challenging. The Medela Harmony is one of the highest rated manual pumps out there, but there are many others available as well.
- Electric pumps- these types of pumps need to be plugged in to work, but all you have to do is adjust the settings and they do the rest of the work for you. They are much more efficient and quicker at emptying your breasts, and usually have a few different settings or speeds available to choose from. Most of these pumps can be used as a double or single pump. Some of them can be converted to a battery pack or car charger for portability. The cost of these pumps is quite a bit higher than the manual pumps, but you may be able to get one for free through insurance. Some of the most popular electric pumps are the medela pump in style advanced and the spectra s2.
- Portable pumps- While many electric pumps can be converted to be portable. There is a pump on the market making a lot of headlines for the best portability. It is actually a wearable breast pump that has no tubing or hanging bottles. There is also an app that can be downloaded so you can track your sessions. This pump is called the Willow Pump. The cost is a bit higher than the traditional electric pumps, and at this time I do not believe it is covered by insurance plans.
- Medical grade pumps- these are the types of pumps used in the hospitals, they are much more effective than any non medical grade pump and are set up for multiple users. They are very expensive, but you may be able to rent one if you find that none of the others are working for you.
Now that we have covered the different types of pumps available, the next step to successful pumping is making sure you have the correct size breast shield or flange. The breast shield typically looks like a funnel and it is the part of the pump that is placed over the nipple during your pumping session.
- Breast shields typically range in sizes between 21 mm and 36 mm depending on the brand of pump you have.
- Picking the right size is based on the diameter of your nipple and nothing to do with your cup size.
- Pumping should not be painful! If you are experiencing pain during your pump session, it could be because you are using the wrong size breast shield.
- If your nipples have a lot of elasticity and are stretching out to the end of the flange, than you may need a smaller size.
Speed and Suction
In the beginning of a pumping session, it is best to have a faster speed to help the let down process. Once the milk starts to flow, it is better to have a slower pace with more suction. To get the best results, you should use the highest level of suction that you can tolerate comfortably. Do not go past your comfort level, because pain and discomfort will cause tension and pumping is much easier and more effective when you are able to relax.
- Use a warm compress or a warm shower before a pumping session to help stimulate let down and enhance flow.
- Massaging your breasts before and during sessions can help with let down, increase flow, and ensure that your breasts are thoroughly emptied
- Have a snack, some water, and anything else you might need near by
- Establish a routine for pumping sessions
- Enjoy something relaxing during your session, like watching TV, reading a book, listening to music, or searching the internet. Whatever works for you.
- Get plenty of rest, eat a well-balanced diet with at least 300 extra calories a day, and drink plenty of water to help support your needs and the needs of your baby while breastfeeding!
Picking the right pump, the right sized breast shields and finding the right amount of suction that works for you are the most important things when it comes to improving your pumping sessions. Following the other tips can also help, but if you find that you have done all of these things and you are still struggling, you may want to talk to a lactation consultant or doctor for further assistance.
I hope you found this post helpful! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to leave them in the comments section. I will reply as quickly as possible!