The decision to pump, whether it is made out of preference or necessity, is not made lightly. Pumping can be frustrating, disappointing, and arduous, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. Committing to feeding your baby with your body is an admirable feat. Using the available tools and resources can be the difference between pumping success and dissatisfaction.
You are not shackled to your flanges. Find a hands-free solution (like PumpEase!) to hold your pump flanges in place while you pump so you can multitask. Catch up on email, eat a snack, read a book, or catch a quick nap while you pump breastmilk.
Breast compressions, or gentle breast massage, can help increase your milk output, decrease your time spent pumping, and prevent blocked ducts (which can lead to painful mastitis). Slowly massage your breasts in a circular motion using consistent pressure while you pump. The goal isn’t to squeeze milk out of your breasts, but to encourage milk flow through the ducts.
Don’t watch the bottle
Try to focus on something other than your milk output while you pump. You know the saying “a watched pot never boils” - it’s the same idea with pumping. Obsessing over how much breastmilk you’re pumping can impact how your body responds to the pump.
Watch your baby
Look at videos and photos of your baby while you pump to encourage your letdown reflex. For extra sensory assistance, pack a piece of your baby’s clothes in your work bag (make sure it’s something they’ve recently worn, like a sleeper or onesie). When you hook up your flanges, smell your baby’s clothing to get a whiff of their scent and help your body respond to your pump.
Pump on one side and breastfeed on the other for a more efficient letdown, faster pumping session, and the potential for an increased milk supply. Remember that breastmilk is all about supply and demand. The more you drain your breasts (whether through breastfeeding or pumping) the more your body is triggered to produce more milk. Breastfeeding on one side and pumping on the other can signal your body to make more milk and is an efficient way to boost a lagging supply.
Whether you are an experienced exclusive pumper, or someone who is considering adding pumping to your routine, know that you don’t have to do it alone. There are many resources, tools, and supports out there to help you on your feeding journey, and no one-size-fits-all solution. Know that the decision that works best for you, your baby, and your family is the right decision, even if it looks different than what others have chosen. You are doing a great job.