Whether you’re new to breast pumping or have been down this road before with your older kids, these 12 tips are going to help make your pumping and breastfeeding journey easier, more enjoyable, and less stressful.
Breast Pumping Equipment
Effective pumping begins with the right equipment. Your particular lifestyle will dictate the type of breast pump you choose—manual or electric, single or double breast pump. Once you’ve chosen your breast pump, follow these tips to ensure a more seamless road ahead:
Buy or rent a breast pump before baby arrives.
It might be tempting to borrow a used breast pump from a friend or family member to save money, but health experts 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, it’s important to remember that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates insurance companies provide coverage for breast pumps. Check your health insurance policy to see what restrictions may apply.
Though you’ll likely choose a double-electric breast pump, it’s worth considering purchasing an additional handheld manual pump for those times when you’re away from home and don’t have access to power.
Finally, you should familiarize yourself with how your breast pump works before your little one’s debut. You’ll want to feel comfortable with how it operates and understand any accessories or attachments included in the event you’ll need to begin pumping soon after your baby’s arrival.
Consider choosing a double-electric pump.
While they might be more expensive than a manual pump, you’ll appreciate its motor for faster, more efficient pumping on both breasts simultaneously.
Make sure you have the correct size flanges.
If breast shields are too small, you’ll irritate your nipples, which could contribute to clogged milk ducts. If they’re too large, your breasts may not fully drain, which could cause swelling and bruising of the areola. With a properly sized flange, your nipples will be centered and move freely and comfortably while pumping.
Buy helpful accessories to make breast pumping easier
There are many products available that can make the pumping experience easier and more comfortable for you, including nursing pillows, nipple cream, nursing bras, and more. 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.
Breast Pumping Tips To Maximize Supply
When you first begin pumping, you may feel frustrated that you don’t seem to be producing enough milk for your baby. Try not to let that discourage you, mom! Put some of the following tips into practice, and you’ll find that you’re producing more than enough to feed that hungry little one.
The more often you pump, the more milk you’ll produce. If you’re away from home or at work, pump for 15 to 20 minutes (or 1 to 2 minutes after your last few drops of milk) every few hours, using a double electric breast pump. If you’re stressed, try massaging your breasts or using warm compresses to help you relax.
Pump and nurse at the same time.
Try using a hands-free bra for the pump so you can focus on your nursing baby.
Create a breast pumping schedule.
Regularly scheduled pumping will help your body produce the most breast milk it can. It will also help reduce the chances of engorged breasts or clogged milk ducts, leading to mastitis.
Avoid formula feedings.
Formula feedings will reduce your baby’s demand for breast milk and, in turn, decrease your milk supply. Instead, breastfeed your baby on demand. If you’re going back to work soon and are hoping to build a supply of pumped milk, you may also wish to pump occasionally between feedings.
Build a freezer stash.
If you have ample milk production, you can freeze it for future feedings when you’re away from your baby.
A Happy, Healthy You Makes for a Better Breastfeeding Journey
It’s so easy for a mom to put everyone else’s needs before her own! That’s why it’s also essential for you to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. When you do, you’ll be happier, the baby will feel good, and your breastfeeding experience will go more smoothly.
Drinking lots of water, juice, or milk will help you maintain a steady output of breast milk. You should avoid or limit coffee, sodas, or other caffeinated beverages. If you have an occasional cocktail, be sure to avoid feeding for at least two hours afterward.
Set realistic goals.
Fatigue, hunger, stress, a busy schedule—all of these factors can impact your milk production. Make sure you set realistic goals for yourself and allow yourself lots of grace if you don’t meet them. If you accept that you will have off days right from the start, you’ll find that you’re less frustrated and have the strength to continue with breastfeeding.
Be kind to yourself.
Take good care of yourself. Don’t be shy about asking for help and support when you need it. Get as much rest as you can and eat healthily. Pampering yourself and carving out occasional “you” time is a must-do, so don’t feel guilty about asking for support and sneaking in a break here and there.