If there’s anything I could boldly say about breast pumping, it’s that pumping is a lifesaver.
If there’s anything I could boldly say about breast pumping, it’s that pumping is a lifesaver.
Boobies feel uncomfortably full even after nursing? Pump away! Getting ready for some away-from-baby time because of work, an errand, or a well-deserved self-care hour? Pump those breasts, and your milk production will keep aflowing!
Breast pumping was a big, big help for me (and for my babies!) during my children’s infant years. So whether you’ve been pumping for a while or you’re about to try it for the first time, my momma-wish is you’ll learn lots from this guide.
A breast pump is a medical device that mimics a baby’s nursing rhythm. Its individual parts work together to create and release suction, which then triggers milk let-down.
Breast pumps are available in different types, such as:
Out of these four, I highly recommend using an electric breast pump. For many good reasons!
Electric pumps have more consistent suction cycles, which makes the pumping process more efficient. Plus, an electric pump will not strain your hands the same way that a bulb-style and a manual pump would.
Hospital-grade pumps are great, too. They have a very strong suction that’s especially useful if your breasts are engorged. Their only drawback is they aren’t as affordable as other alternatives.
Using a breast pump is completely your choice. Some mommas thrive in breastfeeding without ever touching a breast pump. But, there are plenty of benefits that breast pumping can give. Here are a few:
Yes, breast pumping can help increase your milk supply!
Remember that your milk production follows the supply and demand system. So, the more you express milk through pumping, the more that your body will be triggered to produce even more breast milk. Yep, it’s that amazing!
The best advice here is to pump as often as your baby would nurse. If you’re exclusively breast pumping, this could mean pumping at least 8 to 10 times a day.
If you’re breastfeeding as well as breast pumping, I recommend that you pump right after feeding if you want to boost your supply and build a stash. Pumping 30 to 60 minutes after every breastfeeding session is a good start.Pump as often as your baby would nurse. Click To Tweet
But hey, you should keep in mind that every momma’s situation is different, which is why you should pay attention to your body and not force yourself to pump exactly the way the internet tells you to.
When I used to nurse my son who was diagnosed with lip and tongue tie, I pumped my breasts every 2 to 3 hours for about 20 to 30 minutes per session or until my milk flow stopped. This frequency might seem too much for some mommas, but if your child cannot latch properly, then you gotta pump and pump to feed your baby and empty your boobies properly.
RELATED: Why Your Baby Won’t Latch (Expert Advice on Lip & Tongue Ties, Cleft Lip, and High Arched Palate)
Just like breastfeeding, breast pumping can be very challenging. I’ve done both, and I know that “challenging” is an understatement.
When I felt like giving up, I always just reminded myself that continuous milk let-down meant continuous nourishment for my baby. Thankfully for you, there’s a bunch of stuff you can try to increase your milk supply when breast pumping. Here are a few!
The more you nurse and pump, the greater your milk supply will be. Your frequent pumping sessions signal to your body that you demand more milk, which naturally increases your supply. And yes, momma, our bodies are intelligent like that!
Aside from frequent pumping, some moms also add power pumping to their usual routine. Basically, it’s when you pump even more frequently within a set period to cue your body to produce more milk.
You can practice this technique for 2 to 3 days every two weeks, for starters. Just remember to take breaks (we don’t want nipple soreness, do we?) and that you get a good amount of rest and healthy meals.
A high-quality electric breast pump—preferably hospital-grade—is your breast-friend! Hand or battery-operated pumps may not have the most power to give you satisfying results, so it’s best to invest in a good-quality pump to help you maintain and express a hearty breast milk supply.
Your comfort is also super essential. Check the size of the breast shield if it’s the right fit. Avoid anything that’s too small or too large. Also, choose one that has a range of suction volumes so you can adjust according to your tolerance.
I also personally like using a flange warmer (you can buy one through Amazon!). It works like a heat compress that helps with clogged ducts and allows your breast milk to flow more freely.
Lastly, the pump has to be in good condition every time you use it. Make sure that you keep it clean and that you’re using it according to the pump manufacturer’s manual.Your comfort is super essential. Check the size of the #breastflange, and choose a #pump that has a range of suction volumes so you can adjust it according to your tolerance. Click To Tweet
Pumping both of your breasts at the same time helps release more prolactin. It also saves you time and energy.
You might want to try pumping bras too, since they can hold your breast shields in place. Talk about hands-free double pumping while you work or watch Netflix!
A number of studies support how skin-to-skin contact can have amazing effects on both mothers and their baby. For a breastfeeding mom, skin-to-skin contact doesn’t just let you bond with your little one, but it also helps stimulate the release of oxytocin, which then helps your mommy body relax and produce a healthy milk supply.
Because of this, it’s advisable to be as close as possible to your baby when you pump. You could also pump immediately after you breastfeed, if you feel that your body is still down for it.
In instances when you’re at work and need to pump away from your baby, what could help you produce milk is having some things that remind you of your baby. Your body will sometimes need a trigger to activate its let-down or milk ejection reflex, and looking at your baby’s pictures or smelling their used clothes or blanket can help with that.
Moist heat stimulates circulation in your breasts, which helps in letting your breast milk flow. So if you’re having difficulty with let-down, a good solution is to keep a warm and damp towel as your breastfeeding companion.
Applying moist heat, though seemingly simple practice, could also offer you relief from a range of breastfeeding-related problems. If you’re experiencing breast discomfort, soreness, clogged ducts, engorgement, or mastitis, an easy (and comfy) first aid response is to place a warm and damp towel on your breasts.
Bonus tip: taking a warm shower does the trick, too!
Applying lubricant over your breasts and your pump flanges can help reduce your discomfort while stimulating your milk ejection reflex. And when you feel more comfortable, your milk let-down will be easier—just as your let-down becomes slower when you’re stressed.
Nipple lubricants are readily available online. But if you like going all-natural, I highly recommend using pure coconut oil. Not only is it plant-based and edible, but it also has antimicrobial properties that add an extra layer of protection to your nippies.
Pairing your pumping routine with some natural galactagogues can help boost your breast milk supply. What are galactagogues? These are substances that help promote lactation. Moringa, papayas, and carrots are a few examples.
One nice thing about galactagogues is that they usually go well with different kinds of recipes. So having them as ingredients in your meals, soups, snacks, and drinks can be a hearty addition to your breastfeeding regimen. Of course, you should consult with your doctor or lactation consultant to help you make decisions for your breastfeeding journey.
Wanna learn more about Galactagogue-Rich Lactation Drinks?
Breastfeeding isn’t just about your baby—it’s about you, too. Value your own nourishment!
Consume calories from healthy food sources, and make sure that you keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. On top of the calories that you used to take prepartum, you should consume 450 to 500 kilocalories more to fuel your body properly.
You should also remember to get your dose of early morning sunshine (with SPF, of course!), sleep and naps, and recreational activities like a leisurely walk in the park.
Okay, I know it’s not easy to prioritize your nourishment while looking after your baby’s. But do keep in mind that you’re more able to nourish others when you yourself are well-nourished. So stay healthy, okay?
RELATED: Breastfeeding is Hard but Beautiful (Honest Story of Momma Tatiana)
A mom’s breastfeeding journey can be one heck of a physical, mental, and emotional ride. But continue to have faith in the process. We are mammals, and our body is geared for this!
Your body naturally produces milk; you just have to assist it to do what it’s supposed to through your feeding and breast pumping routine and your own proper nutrition.
One key technique is to simply feel relaxed in your zone while you pump, since being in this state will do wonders for increasing your milk supply. If you find yourself anxious about your pump output, I advise trying what Lactation Consultant Johanna Sargeant recommends: the sock trick.
It’s simple: get one baby sock, and use it to cover your breast pump bottle. Then, pump away without worrying how much milk you’re producing. Remember: the more relaxed you are, the more breast milk you’ll have!Being in a relaxed state will do wonders for increasing your #milksupply. Click To Tweet
It also helps to connect with other breastfeeding mommas and learn from their experiences. Take inspiration from their struggles and success, and don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it.
Now that you know all about pumping, you should also know how to store breast milk in the right and safe way. Here are some helpful tips:
Increasing your milk supply is a commitment to your frequent breast pumping sessions, overall nourishment, and physical bonding time with your little one. It seems like a lot of work, I know, but try to find joy in these moments. The rewards are worth it!
So mommas, take care of yourself and keep in mind that every woman’s body is different. Focus on your own journey, avoid comparing, and try your best to keep the stress at bay!
This mom-powering piece is curated by multiple contributors: Lian Delos Reyes, founder & CEO of Milksta, and research & content specialists Nicole Saldaña and Rose Jane dela Cruz.