Pumping was the most stressful part of my first experience with breastfeeding. The second time around has been far less stressful, still difficult at times, but definitely better.
Here are 5 of my best tips to make the most out of each pumping session and get more milk!
- HYDRATE. Water is key to making milk. Every breastfeeding mom will tell you this. The more hydrated you are the more milk you can get. I drink over 150 oz a day, and that’s a slow day. If you are having trouble getting yourself to drink water there are a few ways to help. 1)Set an alarm on your phone to drink a bottler or glass of water every 1.5-2 hours. 2) Always have a refillable bottle with you and one in the fridge ready to exchange out. 3) Keep water bottles throughout the house. This one is kind of over the top, borderline annoying, but it works. Have a bottle at your nursing area, pumping area, in the living room, and so on. Every where you spend your time. 4) Drink a glass/bottle before every feed/pump and after.
- RELAX. Easier said than done. Don’t stare at your nipple hoping Niagra Falls will release at any moment. Distract yourself and look away from the boob! Look at cute photos of your baby, scroll through Facebook or Instagram, just don’t focus on the milk. Oddly enough I get the BEST results when I scroll through Pinterest and read through blogs about breastfeeding and baby stuff. SO WEIRD but it totally works!
- PUMP OFTEN. This is an extremely important part. Your first few attempts at pumping might not be very successful. Do not give up. As they say practice makes perfect. Pumping isn’t just hook it up and let it fly, it takes time, effort, and dedication. How to hold your pump, or wearing a pumping bra, flange size, pump settings, these are all things that you will figure out over time. Pumping once a week isn’t going to improve your pumping skills :). Create a pumping routine that works for you. I suggest pumping at least once a day (when you’re ready) and build from there, or pump for a few minuets after baby feeds every time, or a couple times. Whatever works for YOU as long as you are getting pump time in!
- TIME. Once you’ve figured out how to get milk flowin’, it’s time to get a little more flowin’. Pumping until you’re “empty” isn’t really a thing. I mean yes it IS a thing but it’s not completely true. Yes you can pump out what you have in each breast, BUT your body is constantly making more, so are you ever really “empty” yes and no. Pumping until I’m empty, in my mind, is pumping through that first let down, after I’ve massaged, moved, and or done whatever I can until milk stops. Don’t stop there. Relax and let that next letdown come. This is something that takes time, but eventually you will get more letdowns in a session. On my Medela pump there is actually a letdown button. When you turn on the pump you are in the quicker stimulation mode and after a few minuets it turns to the normal pumping mode. If you hit that button again it will set you back to the stimulation mode. This can help trigger another letdown. It mimics the sensation of the baby speeding back up their nursing to tell your boob it needs more milk :). So once I’m “empty” I sit back, relax, and hit the letdown button and start again. The first few times, didn’t get a 2nd letdown, but now (3 months in) I’m regularly getting 2-3 letdowns per session.
- CONFIDENCE. This one isn’t really a DO THIS AND GET THAT RESULT. This is more of a feel good thing. Don’t be hard on yourself. Pumping and breastfeeding are hard. Just because something works for one mama, doesn’t mean it will work for you. There is no PERFECT pumping schedule. There is no exact HOW TO PUMP guide. Every booby, mama, and baby are different. Do what works for you. Try new things, and don’t stress if you don’t see results right away, it all takes time. Have confidence in yourself as a mama!