Pumping breast milk is rarely at the forefront of a new mom’s mind. Pregnancy, birth, and labor are usually enough to keep any expectant mom’s mind busy with research, planning, and a little bit of worry.
For many new moms, pumping breast milk ends up being an afterthought, or something to tackle only once the need arises. Below are a few quick tips if you haven’t yet given any thought to pump.
But first, some words of wisdom from La Leche League:
Unfortunately, there are some popular child care books that suggest milk expression is a necessary part of breastfeeding. This is not the case. La Leche League believes that mother and baby need to be together early and often to establish a satisfying relationship and an adequate milk supply. Milk expression is only necessary if mother and baby are separated for some reason — such as hospitalization or going back to work — or to maintain the mother’s milk supply if the baby is unable to nurse effectively. It may also be used to relieve engorgement, or to increase milk supply. Remember, though, that in these situations the best pump is the baby. // La Leche League
Consider waiting before you start pumping away just to stockpile your fridge, especially in the first six months. As a newborn, Baby should be on the breast as often as she requests in order to help you establish your milk supply and fill your body with oxytocin (the “love hormone” or “cuddle chemical”). Oxytocin helps you bond with Baby and it cues your uterus to contract, bringing it back down to its pre-baby size.
Also, if your milk supply is strong pumping could cause an increase in milk production, resulting in oversupply, painful engorgement, and frequent bouts of mastitis. Making too much milk instead of too little has its own problems and complications.
Now on to those tips…
- Check the fit of your flanges. A bad fit means poor suction.
- Try several different pumps until you find one you like.
- Increase suction speed to encourage a letdown, and then slow it down once the milk arrives.
- Adjust the suction strength to your comfort; it should not be painful!
- Rub freshly expressed breast milk on nipples before and after pumping.
- Establish a regular routine so your body (and hormones) can get used to it.
- Keep bottles of water by your pump and hydrate while pumping.
- Relax! Stress tightens your muscles, which inhibits the release of breast milk.
If you want to pump to increase your breast milk supply, check out this great post at KellyMom.com.
If you’re interested in exclusively pumping breast milk (meaning you’re only feeding baby breast milk, but you’re pumping instead of nursing) check out the awesome video below:
Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk (How To, Milk Supply, What is EP?)
Have a breast pump tip to share? Leave it in the comments…