Pumping breastmilk for your baby is a huge accomplishment, one that takes time, hard work and patience. Because you are already juggling the work of caring for a child, maintaining a household and possibly also work or school, why not make the most out of your pumping session. These four simple tricks will help you to maximize your output while pumping!
1. Take a deep breath! Relaxation is key when it comes to pumping. It is really hard to have a let-down of milk when you are tense. So find a comfortable place to pump, where you can feel most at ease. Check in with your body, take a deep breath in, and on your out breath, relax any places of tension that you are feeling in your body; your face, your shoulders, and -even your pelvic floor! Consider your comfort, use a cozy chair, sip of a cup of tea and put on some soothing background music.
2. Massage your breasts. Don’t be afraid to get your hands involved with your pumping, both before and during. Just a minute or two of massaging your breasts before a pumping session can help to stimulate your milk-producing glands, allowing for a faster letdown. Massage or use ‘breast compression’ during pumping also helps to stimulate let-downs and also has the added benefit of helping to fully drain all milk ducts. Consider wearing a hands-free nursing bra so that you can get both hands in on the massage. Gently, but firmly, massage and squeeze your breast starting from the armpit, working your way towards the nipples and as close to breast shields as you can get. You can even stop pumping in the middle of a session, or when you see the milk start to slow down, and massage your breasts for a minute or two and then go back to pumping. This helps to stimulate more let-downs!
3. Heat things up! Applying warmth to your breast will help to dilate the milk ducts, increase circulation and encourage milk to flow. You can run your breast shields under hot water before applying them to your breasts, or you can place a hot, moist, washcloth to your breasts for a minute or two before pumping.
4. Do your breast shields fit? Having the right size breast shield can make a huge difference in your pumping output. So how do you know if it’s a proper fit for you? During pumping, your nipples should move freely in the tunnel, there should be space around the nipple, and very little of the areola should be drawn up into the tunnel. If the flanges are too small, you may experience discomfort as the nipples rub up and down along the sides of the tunnel. If it’s too big, a large portion of the areola is drawn into the tunnel. Improperly fitted breast shields can really reduce the output. Breast Shields come in several sizes, 20mm (S), 24mm (M), 28mm (L) and 32mm (XL), so don’t be afraid to try out a different size.
If you have tried these tips for maximizing your output and you just aren’t getting what you think you should, don’t hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant. A consultant will continue to troubleshoot this topic with you and help to get you on track with your pumping goals.
Do you have additional tips and tricks? Share them with us in the comments.