Breast pumping is inevitable for a lot of moms. There are a couple of instances where a mom may need to rely on pumping for breastmilk.
- Working moms may need to rely on pumping when they return to work
- Some moms need to pump because their baby has trouble latching.
- Unresolved tongue or lip tie
- Mom is not available to feed her little, commitments , illness, etc
- Personal choice: exclusively pumping.
PUMPING !!! How hard can it be, right? Unfortunately, it took a lot of trials and errors for me to be able realize what worked and what didn’t. Pumping can be very stressful, and worse if your supply drops. It is normal to find yourself worrying about your output because unlike direct breastfeeding, with pumping you can see how many ounces of breast milk you produce from each pumping session .
I wasn’t a fan of pumping at first and I seriously struggled with finding a routine that worked.
‘Oh i needed to find a different sized flange? i couldn’t just assume that the one that came with the pumping machine is my size? interesting (haha) .
I had no idea and i was totally sore from using the wrong sized flange. Thankfully, after this post, you don’t have to. I eventually got a hang of it and it was no longer a nightmare.
Pumping for breast milk may seem unsettling at first, with all the tubes and suction, gosh! But once you learn all you can about it, it definitely gets easier .
Important things you need to know about pumping
1.INVEST IN A GOOD QUALITY PUMP
A good quality pump might be expensive, but it will hold up well with constant use. You definitely need a quality pump that can withstand the pressure from multiple hours of pumping everyday for months .
It has to be one with excellent suction that can empty the breast properly. This is really Important to enable you keep a good stash of breast milk in your fridge if you want to, and it also prevents breast engorgement. (This happens when the breast is painfully overfull with milk).
A few of my favourites are;
- The Medela Pump in style ; it has been around for a long time and it is tried and true
- The Willow Pump.
- The Spectra (s1 and spectra s2)
- Medela free style flex
- The Medela symphony
- Motif luna
It is also good idea to also have a backup pump. I recommend having a cheap manual breast pump for emergencies.
Hopefully you wouldn’t need it but if you do need it, its best to have one to fall back to.
2.STICK TO A PUMPING SCHEDLUE
This is important because regularly removing milk from your breast helps establish and maintain your milk supply. Try not to miss sessions, because that means you are telling your body that you don’t need as much milk anymore and this may make your supply drop over time.
Also regularly missing pumping sessions can cause a clogged milk duct or mastitis.
Try to stick to your schedule as much as you can. It is ok if you miss a pumping session every now and then, just get back on track.
This is ideal to keep your milk production on track. Learn from my mistake; i got tired of pumping a lot especially at night, and i skipped pumping sessions. Believe me it was such a struggle trying to regain my supply.
If it is not possible to stick to a schedule, just try as much as you can to pump the same number of times as actual feedings .
To get most milk you should pick a time to pump when your milk supply is most abundant. For most moms that will be in the early morning hours.
If you are not exclusively pumping you can always switch to breast feeding during times when you are with your little one.
3.THE IMPORTANCE OF A CORRECT FLANGE FIT
I struggled a lot with this because somehow i ended up getting a flange too tight or too big.
I initially used the flange that came with my breast pump and that was such a bad idea as it wasn’t the right fit.
Pumping with the correct size breast shield is essential to avoid nipple pain and maximize milk supply.
You can also explore the option of getting a silicone flange instead of the regular plastic ones. Not getting the right fit can have serious impact on milk flow, a tight flange can cause blisters and that is absolutely no fun at all.
How Can You Tell If You Need A New Breast Shield Size
If you are pumping frequently with minimal output or if your breasts are becoming tender, then it is time to get a new breast pump.
The flow of milk should not be painful, so if the gentle grip of the flange feels uncomfortable, it probably is too tight.
- The gap between nipple and flange – this creates an undesirable vacuum seal that impedes let-down
- Skin irritation on or near flanges – caused by poor fit
- The breast shield is uncomfortable while pumping.
- You experience a burning sensation on your nipples or areolas while pumping.
- Your breasts feel full and tender after pumping, but you didn’t collect much milk.
- Before you purchase new equipment, keep in mind that it is important to buy the proper kit for your needs. You may need multiple sizes if you plan to pump both at work and at home. It might be helpful to measure yourself before picking up any new supplies:
- The back of your armpit is becoming irritated from the tubing.
- If you experience redness on or at the base of the nipple during and/or after pumping, A more comfortable fit can make all the difference!
- If you experience an unpleasant burning sensation on your nipples or areolas while pumping, This is a sign that the flange size is too small.
- An improper fit between the breast shield and nipple could also contribute to less output and in even more rare cases, blocked ducts or plugged milk ducts (known in medical terms as galact
- When pumping, you felt a strong tugging or pinching sensation.
- You are unable to maintain suction while pumping.
- Pumping output seems lower than usual .
- These are all signs that it might be time for a new breast shield size! If you notice any of these issues, try out one or more of the suggestions below to determine which solution is best for your current situation:
If the breast shield feels uncomfortable because it’s too tight, try replacing your breast flange with one in a larger size.
The average nipple diameter ranges from 17-21mm at its fullest point, so choosing an appropriately-sized flange is important.
The 24mm size may be too large for you, latching onto your nipple to an uncomfortable degree ( this will also cause suction issues).
On the other hand, if the average-sized flange doesn’t fit well enough, choose one that is smaller—just be sure not to go below the minimum size!
Once you’ve selected a new breast shield size, try pumping with it for at least two weeks (at least three times per day).
If there are still obvious output issues, try replacing the tubing as well.
It’s possible that your tubing length has become damaged or worn out, so do yourself a favor and order a new one from your favorite online retailer
4. PICK A COMFORTABLE POSITION AND DISTRACT YOURSELF.
Relaxation is key when pumping.
Pick a position and location that allows you to feel relaxed. reading a book or listening to music while pumping can make you less tensed or anxious. This helps a lot with milk output.
A good hands-free pumping bra is certainly a great investment, it’ll make the hours upon hours you spend pumping easier.
After I got a hands-free bra, it was terrific. I could use my hands to do anything while still pumping.
5.LIMIT PUMPING TO 20 MINUTES PER SESSION
When i first I started pumping i pumped for a longer periods of time because i was trying so hard to keep a staggering freezer supply. This was such a bad idea because it caused a lot of pain and clogs .
Pumping is a different mechanism than breastfeeding and too much of it can cause pressure and a lot of pain. It is best to limit pumping sessions to 20 minutes.
Do you have other important tips about breast pumping? let me know in the comments below.