Pumping breast milk for your baby has many benefits but can also be challenging.
After pumping exclusively for my two girls for over a year and a half each, I’ve learned what worked and what didn’t.
If you are a pumping mama or considering the idea, here are my top 10 tips to make your pumping experience a little less daunting.
There are a few reasons why breast pumping could be a good option for mamas.
- Allow the flexibility to be away (like going back to work) from your baby for more than three hours.
- Your baby might be struggling to latch to your breasts, but you still want to give him/her the benefit of breastmilk.
- You choose not to breastfeed but still want to give your baby breastmilk.
- Save money from the formula.
Tips for Breast Pumping
Now let’s jump to my top 10 tips for breast pumping…
1. Start Early
If you are a new mom-to-be, decide ahead if breast pumping will be one of the options for you and your baby. If the answer is yes, start early!
Pumping milk is probably the last thing you want to do when your precious bundle of joy is first born. But trust me, it’s so worth it.
Starting breast pumping right after your baby is born will not only kick-start your milk supply but also trains your baby to get used to different ways of feeding.
This is a great way to start building up a stock of milk supply to allow others to feed the baby while you catch some desperate sleep.
2. Invest in a Double-Electric Pump
I can not stress enough about investing in a double electric pump or a hospital-grade pump. It will save you time compared with using a single pump. Well worth the money!
And if the pump helps you to produce enough milk without supplementing with formula, it saves money too.
If buying a double electric pump is out of your budget, there are places where you can rent hospital-grade pumps too.
3. Drink Enough Water
Staying hydrated will keep your milk flowing.
I learned this lesson the hard way. During the early days of my first baby, I struggled with my milk production.
My lactation nurse asked me how much water I was drinking, and as it turned out, I wasn’t drinking enough. Apparently, if my milk is dehydrated, it will cause dehydration for my baby.
As I started to up my water intake, and guess what? So did my milk output.
4. Pay Attention to Your Diet.
I’m sure you heard the saying, “you are what you eat”.
What you eat will also impact your milk production. In general, having a balanced diet of protein, vegetables, fruit, and complex carbohydrate will help with your milk lactation.
Eating too much-processed food that is often high in salt is likely to dehydrate you and lead to a decrease in your milk supply.
Some mamas had success with oats, lactation cookies, location tea, or mother’s milk to increase their milk supply.
You can also consult with your doctor or a lactation specialist on specific herbal supplements such as brewer’s yeast, Fenugreek, blessed thistle, or red raspberry leaf tea.
5. Keep Things Sanitized
It’s so important to keep all the parts of the pump clean. Germs can grow easily in breast milk. If the parts are left with breast milk residue, it will lead to the risk of respiratory infection for your baby.
I use these micro-steam bags from Medela, which allow me to put the pump parts in the microwave after I pump during the day, then I put the parts dishwasher at night for a deep clean. Each of the bags can be used 20 times.
6. Get Comfy
Pumping takes time, even with a double-duty electric pump. So it’s important that you get comfy while pumping.
I like to free up my hands while pumping so I can do other things. You can buy a hands-free pumping bra. I DIY’d my own from a pair of old sports bras by cutting out 2 slits.
I love browsing Pinterest for yummy recipes while I’m pumping. I found so many dinner ideas for the family thanks to the time I had.
If I need a winding down at night, I will listen to a 10min. Meditation on my Insight Timer app while I have a night pumping session.
7. Create a Routine that Works for You
Finding a daily routine in terms of when to pump and how many times is important. In my experience, I would even go as far as to say once I get into a routine, my body clock almost knows what to do. It looks something like this:
- First, pump in the morning before I get to work
- Pump during lunchtime
- Pump before bed
This is what worked for me, but it may not work for everyone. The key is to find a routine that works for you and stick to it as close as you can.
8. Organize Your Stash
Make some space in your freezer for your milk supply.
I found these Lansinoh breast milk storage bags work the best, as they can hold more than most of the bags and lays flat in your freezer to save space.
It’s also important to label the bag with dates, so you know when the milk was expressed. I use a Sharpie, and write the date, then the amount of milk in oz both on the front and back.
9. Have a Backup Plan
You never know when you’ll need it, but having a manual pump in your car is always a good idea. I also carry an extra set of membranes, tubes, and flanges in my bag.
So many times I forgot to take certain parts from the dishwasher, and the backup parts were life savers!
Having a backup plan will save you the embarrassing moments of leaking breasts.
10. Have Realistic Expectations
Pumping is not for everyone. It takes time, energy, and consistency.
You may not be able to produce as much milk as you want, or you may not be able to pump as often as you like.
The key is to have realistic expectations. Every mama and baby is different.
Especially if you need to pump at work, it’s important to know your rights and ensure your manager and colleagues understand this is something you are fully committed to doing.
Employers are federally mandated to provide employees reasonable break time to express breast milk for their nursing child/children up to one year after birth.
Employers are also responsible for designating a location, not a restroom, that is out of sight and cannot be accessed by coworkers or the public.
It is also OK if you tried and decided that breast pumping is not for you. This doesn’t make you a bad mom.
I hope these tips were helpful! If you have any other great tips, please share them in the comments below 🙂
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