The Momivist : Where science, infant feeding and shame-free support rules.
Pumping is a big part of how many new moms feed their babies. Pumping can be a challenge for various reasons, known and unknown. I want to share what I have learned over the years to help improve your pumping experience and hopefully to help you to learn how to collect more milk while protecting your supply when away from your baby. A few things need need to happen before you begin to pump. I am referring to electric double pumps, or hospital grade pumps:
- Your pump flanges need to be sized correctly, and some moms need to use 2 different sized flanges for a perfect fit. https://www.medela.com/breastfeeding/advice/pumping/breast-shield-size
- Your pump needs to be new if an open-system pump, or a clean closed-system pump that has been checked for optimal function. A new pump accessory kit is necessary. http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/HomeHealthandConsumer/ConsumerProducts/BreastPumps/ucm061952.htm
- Applying dry heat to your breasts for 15-30 minutes prior to pumping is very helpful, as heat increases blood flow and relaxes smooth muscle, which may help with better let-down and milk flow. Heated rice socks are a good choice for a dry heat source. Please test the heat temperature before applying to your areola to avoid burns.
- Consider using a hands-free pumping bra. Most moms love having their hands free while pumping so they can incorporate massaging during a let-down. The flanges also are positioned correctly during the entire session, providing better stimulation and milk output. My favorite bra is the Pump-ease. http://www.snugabell.com/products/pumpease/pumpease
- Find a quiet, warm place, with a rocking chair if possible, to pump. Consider using a light blanket to keep warm while pumping. Get as comfortable as possible, including putting your feet up on a foot stool if not using a rocking chair.
- Use earbuds to listen to relaxing music or recorded sounds of your baby while pumping. A recent study suggests improved milk output while listening to music, especially for stressed mothers whose babies are in the NICU. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4437063/
- A recorded video of a breastfeeding session with your baby can be a good for some moms to watch while pumping.
- Silence your cell phone to avoid disruptions from text messages and calls while pumping.
Now that you have gathered your supplies and are ready to begin, I recommend the following tips during pumping.
- Begin pumping at the lowest strength and gradually increase until comfortable. It is best to pump both breasts for 15 minutes or until the last drops of milk are dripping. It should not take longer than 20 minutes to pump.
- Rinsing your flanges with hot water can be helpful; warming your flanges and applying a dab of non-lanolin nipple cream prevents friction and soreness while pumping.
- When you are finished pumping, remove the flanges and allow the pump to stay on to continue cycling to help dry out any tubing condensation. This will keep your tubing dry.
- One of the first suggestions I have for moms who struggle with pumping is to close their eyes while pumping. Do not look at the pump or bottles that are collecting milk. Wear earplugs while pumping to silence the sound of the pump. Keep your eyes closed the entire time pumping and massage your breasts. Hopefully, you will be surprised with increased output with this tip.
- Some moms will use a hands-on approach while pumping using breast compressions during a letdown and massaging in between letdowns. Please view this fantastic video for the best tips for increasing your output. This video is a must see, especially for preemie moms: http://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastfeeding/MaxProduction.html
- Dry heat application during pumping has been useful for some moms as well.
- Distraction by reading magazines, watching your favorite, relaxing show or DVD can be helpful while incorporating other tips above.
You can combine any or all of the above tips to maximize your pumping output. Every pumping mom is different and please know not all moms respond to mechanical pumping. Some moms do better with hand expression. Some moms do better with a combination of hand expressing and pumping. http://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastfeeding/HandExpression.html
Please see my hand out about how to power-pump, to increase your supply.
The Momivist Jody Segrave-Daly, NICU RN, MS, IBCLC