Love it or hate it, breast pumping is often a necessary part of any mom's breastfeeding journey.
It can be pretty overwhelming as you unbox your breast pump for the first time but soon you realize that it's not as scary as it seems.
Feeding your baby from the breast is the primary objective of breastfeeding classes which means breast pumping is easily overlooked. That doesn't mean that breastfeeding experts such as IBCLC's aren't able to help you when it comes to pumping though. In fact, you should look to your IBCLC as a resource for helping you make the most of your pumping experience. Add this to your list of questions to ask them!
Here are some quick tips to help you make the most of your time as a pumping mom:
Use a warm compress and massage:
Using a warm compress and/or massaging the breast before or during your pumping session can really help things get moving. Warming the breast promotes flow of your breastmilk while massage can help ensure that all areas of the breast are drained. You may even notice your flow of breastmilk increase while massaging an often overlooked area of the breast such as the space under the flange on the lower part of the boob.
Replace your pump parts regularly.
It comes as a surprise that your breast pump requires regular maintenance. The material in those tubes, duckbill valves, and backflow protectors for all pumps including Medela and Spectra weaken with use which can mean that your pump is less effective! If you're pumping more than three times a day then you should replace these parts every 4-6 weeks versus every few months if you're pumping less than three times a day.
Be prepared to pump on the go.
You never know what life will bring your way when you're a mom, especially of an infant. For a breastfeeding mom, that means being ready to pump and feed on the go. You'll quickly find that an ideal spot to pump or feed is hard to come by, and this includes finding a power outlet! This 12 volt power pack is ideal for Spectra pumps and this 9 volt pack from Medela are great options and plug directly into your pump (in the same hole as the power cord) so you never have to sweat missing a session again. Also having a sharpie and extra breastmilk bags is a must!
Take care of your nutrition!
It's so easy to let your health fall to the bottom of the priority list as a mom. These pumping sessions are a great time to catch up with some hydrating water, your daily vitamins, and a nutritious snack.
Look at cute pictures of your baby.
This one sounds a little whacky but its true! Looking at pictures of your baby (or your baby IRL!) will cue the hormones that promote letdowns so you'll be able to get the most for your time even when your baby isn't with you.
The handsfree bra is a must.
We get it - one more item to purchase is probably the last thing you're interested in doing, especially when "breastfeeding is free". Trust us, this isn't the item you want to skip out on. There simply is no feasible situation as a new mom where you're going to be able to hold your flanges to your breasts for 20 minutes. You'll go nuts! For 20 bucks you can turn each pumping session into 20 multi-tasking minutes!
Hand expression is your breast friend.
Like many things associated with breastfeeding, hand expression is another taboo topic. While it can definitely feel weird to use your hands to remove milk from your breasts, many women find that hand expression is more effective than a breast pump. It kinda makes sense when you think about it - of course a human is going to be more effective than a machine. Hand expression can be used in place of pumping or even as a way to really work out those final drops after a pumping session. All you need to have with you is a container to catch the milk which could be a breastmilk bag or a flange.