9 Tips to Get the Most Out Of Your Breast Pump
You’re joining the breastfeeding army, but you’re a little worried when you hear from other moms about how tricky breastfeeding can be.
Well, we won’t sugarcoat it — breastfeeding, especially when you add in some pumping sessions, does come with challenges. But lucky for you, other breastfeeding mamas who have come before you are happy to share some tips to make your journey a little easier.
Here are some of our best tips for getting the most out of your breast pump.
1. Check Your Insurance
Before buying a breast pump, you should call your health insurance provider to see if they will pick up part of the tab for your breast pump. Some providers will, while others won’t. By making a simple phone call, you may be able to buy a better breast pump than you would have been able to without your coverage.
More expensive breast pumps tend to have features that might be useful to you, such as multiple speeds and the motor might be quieter as well, which would be great in the workplace.
2. Think Double Electric
When you’re a mom who is going back into the workplace, do yourself a favor and only buy a double electric pump. That’s going to be a huge timesaver for you, and quite frankly, every minute you don’t have to pump milk at work will feel like a gift to you.
You’ll be able to drain both those breasts at the same time, so you’ll have to take less time away from your job, and you can enjoy more of your lunch break.
3. Use Your Pump While Breastfeeding
When your baby is latched onto one breast, attach your breast pump to the other. That will give you the opportunity to build a freezer stash.
If you have an electric pump and the noise bothers your baby, you can wait until it is done breastfeeding before you attach the pump to the other breast.
4. Experiment with the Settings
It can be tempting to find a setting that works well enough on your breast pump and stick with it. You’re tired and just looking to find a shortcut to express milk quickly and without fuss.
But putting a little effort into experimentation may pay off — you could find a setting that feels more comfortable or expresses milk faster. Pumping mamas would appreciate both of those things.
If your pump has two-phase expression technology, it might help you with your let-down reflex so you can pump faster.
5. Use It Regularly
If you’re wondering why your milk supply doesn’t seem as impressive as you think it should be, check out your pumping schedule. To maximize your output, you should be pumping every three hours or so if you’re exclusively pumping into bottles. And when you’re breastfeeding, always pump the other breast to keep the supply up in that breast too.
If you’re not pumping frequently enough, your output will begin to decrease. Your breasts work on a supply and demand system.
Doing all you can to encourage your supply to stay plentiful will enhance your pumping experience. You won’t feel like you’re tapping a dry well.
6. Get Comfy
Breast pumping can be tricky under the best of circumstances, so you should make yourself as comfortable as possible so you can trigger your let-down reflex.
Your best bet for doing this at home is finding a comfortable chair, playing quiet music, or doing something relaxing while you pump.
At work, it’s a lot harder. Trying bringing one of your baby’s outfits to work so you can breathe in their scent to relax. Or put a picture of your baby in your breast pumping bag.
7. Pick the Right Size of Breast Shield
Those things that look like funnels? Those are breast shields. And if you pick the wrong size, it can be bad news for you.
You don’t want it to be too small because that can cause chafing on your nipple. And you don’t want it to be too big because it will pull way too much of your areola into the shield. Both these circumstances can cause pain and it can also mean less milk too.
Go for the Goldilocks zone when choosing your breast shield to find one that is easy on the nipples and doesn’t suck in too much of your breast tissue.
8. Don’t Ignore Pain
Pumping shouldn’t feel like torture. If you see blisters or have raw skin on your nipples, cut down on the suction you’re using.
When you’re done pumping, try rubbing a drop of breast milk on each nipple to help soothe it. It has antibacterial properties too, which may help your cracked nipples avoid infection.
9. Maintain Your Breast Pump
Sometimes you think you might be having problems with your supply, but what you’re really having is an issue with your breast pump. You might have a seal that is wearing down and causing a reduction in your output.
You can try manually expressing your milk. If you’re getting more by manually expressing, your pump might be to blame.
You Can Do It
Breast pumping does require a bit of a learning curve, but don’t give up. It’s worth doing, and before long you’ll get the hang of it. It just takes a little perseverance in the beginning.
All you have to do is soldier on, and you’ll feel like a breast pumping pro in a few weeks.
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About the Author
Jenny Silverstone - Guest Blogger
Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two, and breastfeeding advocate, and a professional writer and editor for the popular parenting blog Mom Loves Best. Jenny works together with her team of experts to create content that inspires, educates, and helps women successfully breastfeed their babies.