12 Pumping Tips to Keep Mom and Baby Happy
Learn how to pump efficiently and check out some tips for extra convenience and comfort during your breastfeeding journey.
Whether you’re brand-new to pumping or you have some experience with your older kids, these 12 tips can help make your pumping and breastfeeding journey easier and more convenient, so you can continue to provide breast milk – and all its amazing benefits and nutrients! – to your baby for as long as you choose.
Breast Pumps and Pumping Equipment
Effective pumping begins with the right breast pump and accessories. Your unique lifestyle and situation will determine the type of breast pump you choose – whether that’s manual, double-electric, hospital-grade (multi-user), or a combination of these options – and when you’ll need to pump, such as when preparing for your return to work, while traveling, or even when enjoying a day or evening out with friends. Once you’ve chosen your ideal breast pump, these tips can help ensure a more seamless and stress-free pumping experience:
- Try to get your breast pump before your delivery date. It might be tempting to borrow a used breast pump from a friend or family member to save money, but health experts strongly discourage it. The risk for contamination is too high for an additional user on a breast pump meant for a single user. If cost is a factor in your decision-making, remember that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that insurance companies must provide coverage for breast pumps. Check your health insurance policy to learn more and what requirements may need to be met.
Though you’ll likely choose a double-electric breast pump, you may consider purchasing an additional manual breast pump for occasions when you’re away from home or don’t have immediate access to an outlet.
Finally, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with how your breast pump works before your little one’s debut, though many insurance companies hold parents close to their expected delivery dates for pump shipment. If you’re unable to or do not receive your pump prior to delivery, try to set aside some time after it arrives to become familiar with how it operates, how to assemble and disassemble it, and understand any accessories or attachments included.
- Understand the benefits of each breast pump type. For example, double-electric breast pumps are more expensive, but they significantly reduce the time you’ll spend pumping because they can pump from both breasts simultaneously – which makes them a good option for pumping at work. Conversely, a handheld manual pump is a convenient option for traveling or situations when you’re on the go or outlets aren’t easily accessible.
- Check that you have correctly sized flanges. Breast shields come in various sizes and choosing the right one is essential for a comfortable pumping experience. If your breast shields are too small, you’ll irritate your nipples – which can lead to clogged milk ducts. If your breast shields are too large, your breasts may not fully drain. A properly-sized flange helps to center your nipples while allowing them to move freely during pumping sessions.
- Buy helpful accessories to make pumping easier. Accessories like nursing bras, nipple creams, and nursing pads are designed to make the pumping experience more convenient and efficient. You can even download the Medela Family app to easily keep track of your baby’s needs from pregnancy to breastfeeding, connect your Medela breast pump via Bluetooth®, and access an expertly curated knowledge center filled with helpful breastfeeding resources and answers.
Maximize Your Milk Supply with These Pumping Tips
After your nursing routine is established and when you first begin introducing pumping into the overall breastfeeding experience, you may wonder how you’ll produce enough to begin creating a refrigerated or frozen stash for times you’re away from your little one. Try not to let that discourage you, mom! By putting some of the following tips into practice, you may notice that you’re producing enough to feed that hungry little one and start building your stored breast milk supply!
- Pump often. If you’re away from home or at work, pump for about 15 – 20 minutes (or 1 – 2 minutes after your last few drops of milk) every few hours using a double-electric or a hospital-grade (multi-user) breast pump. If you’re feeling stressed, try starting with hand expression or using a warm compress to help you relax and begin to express your milk.
- Pump and nurse at the same time. It’s important to know that most moms won’t need to introduce simultaneous pumping and nursing into their usual routine, though this can be effective if starting to build a supply in anticipation of your return to work or if your baby will be with another caretaker for an extended period. Try using a hands-free bra for the pump on one side, so you can focus on nursing your baby on the other breast.
- Stick to a pumping schedule. Regularly scheduled pumping will signal to your body to continue producing milk while helping you build a supply of pumped milk.
- Avoid formula feedings. If your baby receives formula between nursing sessions, they will feel more full – and naturally have less appetite for your milk. As that happens, you’ll be nursing less and may start to notice a decrease in your supply. Instead, breastfeed your baby on demand and pump occasionally between feedings.
- Build your freezer stash. If you have ample milk production, you can freeze it for future feedings when you’re away from baby or to allow another person to sometimes also feed him or her (and give yourself a much-deserved break!)
Don't Forget to Look After Yourself
It’s easy – and even commonplace! – for a mom to put everyone else’s needs before her own! That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself too. When you do, you’ll be happier and feel less burnt out, your baby will feel good, and your breastfeeding experience will go more smoothly.
- Drink lots of water. Hydration is super important when it comes to overall wellness. When you’re thirsty, don’t put off having a sip of water until later. Keeping a water bottle nearby can give you the occasional reminder to take a quick drink when needed. Water, juice, or milk are also good options, but try to limit the coffee, sodas, and other caffeinated beverages. If you have an occasional cocktail, be sure to avoid feeding for at least two hours afterward.
- Set realistic goals and don’t over-pressure yourself. Life after a newborn baby is one of the busiest and oftentimes tiring times of a parent’s life, so don’t forget to be realistic about what you can accomplish right now. Fatigue, hunger, and stress can all impact your milk production. Set realistic goals and don’t be too hard on yourself if everything doesn’t go according to plan – Things going occasionally awry is totally normal during this stage, mama! If you give yourself lots of grace and flexibility, you’ll find that you’re less frustrated and have the stamina to continue breastfeeding for as long as you choose.
- Be kind to yourself. Don’t be shy about asking for help and support when you need it. Get as much rest as you can and try to eat as healthy as possible. Pampering yourself and finding occasional “you” time can make a world of difference, so don’t feel guilty about asking for support and sneaking in a break (or a nap!) here and there too.