Pump Momma Pump’s Top 10 Tips for Pumping
These tips are mainly for the exclusive pumper, but many are translatable to any pumping momma!
- Build your supply- It’s important to frequently remove milk starting within the first few hours after birth and continuing that frequent removal until your supply regulates around 2-3 months when you can afford to drop a pump session or two without damaging your supply.
- Protect your supply- If your priority is to feed all or mostly breastmilk, stick to a strict schedule. I suggest setting alarms! Make sure you are well hydrated and consuming extra calories.
- Get support- Mothers with support breastfeed longer. Attend a live support group, follow pages on social media, talk with other moms, and find one solid cheerleader.
- Educate yourself- Sign up for a course, read some books, watch video tutorials, and follow educational social media accounts like @pump_momma_pump.
- Parts & Pieces- Every woman’s body responds to pumps differently. If possible, try electric and manual. Replace your parts if you use them frequently. Find your correct flange size and style!
- Get hands-on- Many mothers benefit from applying heat before pumping and hand massage or vibration during pumping.
- Go hands-free- I highly suggest getting a hands-free pumping bra. It allows you to multi-task, even if you are sitting down reading or typing. Getting a portable pump helps you get stuff done without being tied to a chair or a wall socket!
- Discover hacks- There are so many hacks for pumping mommas that help make the pump life suck less!
- Practice self-care- Self-care is so important for pumping mothers! Self-care is anything you do purposefully and intentionally to care for your physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing that enables you to care for your family.
- Positivity and gratitude- Gaining a positive perspective as a pumping mom makes a huge difference. Practicing daily gratitude can help you turn guilt and grief into an empowering journey!
*For an expanded version, scroll down
Milk supply depends on milk removal. Building a decent milk supply begins at birth. It’s important to frequently remove milk starting within the first few hours after birth. If you can’t or won’t be choosing to nurse directly, make sure you begin to pump or hand-express every 2-3 around the clock to build your supply. Now is the time to make pumping a priority. If you have to supplement with formula, don’t stop pumping- just supplement and keep on pumping regularly. Exclusive pumpers should plan on continuing that frequent milk removal until supply regulates around 2-3 months when you can afford to drop a pump session or two without damaging your supply. I’ve got a great EP pumping schedule in my Instagram highlights under “Schedules,” check it out HERE
If your priority is to feed all or mostly breastmilk, it’s going to be crucial that you stick to a strict schedule. I’ve got a great sample schedule for exclusive pumping mommas in my Instagram highlights! If you are afraid you’ll miss a pumping session, I suggest setting alarms in your phone! That’s what I had to do- every 3 hours day and night. Eventually you can pump more infrequently but if you’re a “just-enougher” (meaning you make as much as baby eats and not more) you’ll have to keep pumping frequently. Pay attention to your daily total output and baby’s daily total intake. The goal is to pump as much as baby eats, so right away you MAY be making more… don’t slack on your schedule though… baby will eventually take in around 25-30 ounces a day so that’ll be your goal, too! (Breastmilk fed babies plateau out at 25-30 ounces a day, usually 4-5 ounce bottles. This generally stays the same until they eat more and more solids as they age) Infrequent pumping may cause a decrease in supply, not easily re-built when lost. Make sure you are well hydrated and consuming extra calories. (500 extra per day!) If you aren’t making enough for baby, and need to supplement- that’s OKAY! It’s not all-or-nothing… any amount of breastmilk is incredibly beneficial for baby!
Mothers with support breastfeed longer. What does that support look like, and where does it come from? I encourage you to attend a live (or virtual, given the year…) support group for new moms, follow pages or join groups on social media, talk with other moms in your family, neighborhood, or at work, and find one solid cheerleader. If you’re not getting the support you need, ask for it. Have that hard conversation with your partner or your mom… tell them how important breastfeeding is to you and how they can help support your journey. Don’t have a village of support people? Build your own village. I’m already one of your cheerleaders, now go find some more!
It’s a GREAT sign that you’re reading this, because it means that you are already educating yourself about how to make the pump life easier! So what else can you do? Sign up for a breastfeeding or postpartum course, read some books from the library, listen to a podcast, watch video tutorials, and follow educational social media accounts… like mine! The more you know about breastpumping, the better! There’s A LOT of info out there on exclusive pumping, you just have to dig for it! Don’t feel like digging? Take a course like “Empowered Pumping” offered by lactation counselor @sandy.j.green !
Get a quality pump. In the U.S. you should be able to get a pump from your insurance. Read reviews. Try multiple pumps if possible. Every woman’s body responds to pumps differently. If possible, try electric and manual. (I suggest getting a manual anyway… my highlight “Manual Pump” gives a demo and tons of reasons why you need one!) Find your correct flange size and style! Your nipple should pulse freely within the flange tunnel without rubbing against the sides and without pulling too much of your areola into the tunnel. I also offer Flange Sizing consultations! Replace your parts if you use them frequently, especially the duckbill valve or valve-and-membrane. (Replace this part every month for EPers, every 3 months for infrequent pumpers). Learn how to properly wash, dry, and sterilize your parts and bottles. If you’re able, try different style pumping accessories (There are a few really cool flange styles out there right now, like Lacteck for example (Use code PUMPMOMMA212 to save!) and get another pump if you need more freedom (like the Baby Buddha (Save using code PUMPMOMMA10) or Elvie, etc) Do what’s within your power to make the pump life more comfortable so you’ll be able to pump longer!
Many mothers benefit from applying heat before pumping and hand massage or vibration during pumping. Why heat and massage BEFORE pumping? Massage and heat gets the breast primed to have a quick letdown and release all that milk! It’s especially helpful for those women who are prone to clogged ducts. Using warming packs or lactation massagers DURING pumping can actually assist you in emptying faster. Some mommas massage or press with their hands while pumping to encourage sufficient milk removal. (Massagers by @laviemom are great for this! Discount available- PUMPMOMMA10)
This might seem contrary to tip number 6, which was to “get hands-on while pumping.” If you don’t need to do compression or massage while pumping, I highly suggest getting a hands-free pumping bra. It allows you to multi-task, even if you are simply sitting down reading or typing. I see mommas just holding their bottles and think- gah! Get you a hands-free pumping bra, momma! Better yet, get mobile! Getting a portable pump helps you get stuff done without being tied to a chair or a wall socket. Portable pumps like the Baby Buddha give you a lot of freedom, where wearable pumps like the Elvie or Willow allow you to pump discreetly in public… it all depends on what you need, and your budget of course!
I have several great hands-free pumping bras in my Amazon idea list HERE.
Baby Buddha promo code:PUMPMOMMA10
There are so many hacks for pumping mommas that help make the pump life suck less! Follow pumping moms and educators on social media, follow IBCLCs, join FB groups, watch YouTube videos etc etc… Learn the hacks and try them out for yourself! They just might make your life a whole lot easier! And hey, hacks aren’t for everyone… for example, the “fridge hack” goes against the CDC guidelines for washing pump parts but it sure extended my pump life and gave me sanity… so I was comfortable with using that hack. You might not need some hacks… for example, many mothers use their flange as a funnel to pour their breastmilk from bag to bottle. I never needed a funnel, so I didn’t use that hack. Many mothers do a “nursing bra” hack instead of using a separate pumping bra. I loved my pumping bra, so I never needed that hack! You get what I mean… learn all the hacks and do what works for YOU and makes YOURS pump life easier!
Self-care is so important for pumping mothers! Self-care is anything you do purposefully and intentionally to care for your physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing that enables you to care for your family. What does self-care for the pumping mom look like? It CAN be stereotypical self-care like bubble baths, manicures, and me-time away from the demands of home and children…. if that’s what you need. It can also be division of household and family chores with your partner. It can be drawing boundary lines with work, friends, and family. It can be seeing a therapist or finally getting that crown at the dentist. It can be sitting down to pump and journaling, meditating, catch up on emails or simply allowing yourself to rest or scroll Instagram. But honestly, self-care for you right now may be seemingly small but necessary things like making sure you’re eating and drinking enough, getting sleep, getting a shower, changing into clean clothes, and not losing your dang mind.
Gaining a positive perspective as a pumping mom makes a huge difference. You may not have chosen the pump life. You may be angry and grieving the nursing relationship you thought you’d have with your baby. That’s ok. Feel your feelings. Then, try to shift that mindset into a positive, can-do mindset about pumping. Making the choice to pump is empowering when you realize you’re in control. You’re still breastfeeding! You’re still working hard for your baby! Honor your journey and the hard work and sacrifice you’re making for your sweet baby. Journal, list, or meditate upon the wonders of the female body and what it can do. Start noticing the silver linings- write them down if you need to. While you’re at it, write down anything at all that you’re grateful for about pumping and motherhood in general. Practicing daily gratitude can help you turn guilt and grief into an empowering journey!
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