Breastfeeding is amazing, convenient and an awesome way to connect with your babe.
It’s also challenging.
Breastfeeding can be exhausting (especially when the all-night milk bar is open), it can be inconvenient (like when you’re working or have somewhere you’d like to be sans baby), and it can be hard. Really, really hard. Being able to pump can help take the pressure off us moms though, giving us a wee break once in a while, and the chance for other family members to connect with our baby. Pumping has allowed me to leave the house for more than 1 hour at a time, and having a bit of a stash in the freezer puts my mind at ease if I need to leave without my little gal.
But, pumping in itself can be tricky for some women, especially if you’re having to pump in a location or situation where you’re not the most comfortable (i.e. your car or an office – been there, done that).
How do you ensure you’ll get enough milk?
Relax your shoulders. Take a deep breath, and start by following these essential breast pumping tips.
8 Essential Breast Pumping Tips
Breathe in, breathe out. Make sure you’re relaxed to begin with, slowing your breath and closing your eyes if need be. If you’re feeling tense or stress, this can hinder your body’ ability to produce and release breast milk. Try to pump in a quiet location if possible. Put on some relaxing music if you’re in a noisier place, aka your home with wild kids. Some people also bring a picture of their baby with them to look at while pumping.
Use Warm Compresses or Massage
If you find that you’re having a hard time getting the milk out, try placing warm compresses on your breasts beforehand to stimulate the milk flow, or gently massage them to get things going. Another helpful tip is to pump right after a nice warm shower. This way, you’re also already feeling relaxed.
Drink LOTS (and lots) of Water
Make sure you always have a glass or bottle of water on hand. Nursing can suck you dry, literally. Ensuring you’re keeping yourself hydrated with lots of water, herbal tea or other non-caffeinated beverages will also help keep your milk supply up and help with the pumping. We’re often told to drink 8 glasses of water each day, but as breastfeeding moms, we should be drinking AT LEAST 10, if not 12 glasses. If your little one is going through a growth spurt, sick or just nursing more, make sure you’re also drinking more. Try to keep a glass of water on the table beside you whenever you nurse as a good reminder to drink up.
Eat a Well Balanced Diet
Finding time for yourself can be tough when you’re a mom. I get it. And with a new baby? I don’t even know what “me” time looks like lately. But the old adage that we need to fill our own cups up first is SO important, especially in this case. If we’re not getting enough proper nutrition, guess who else isn’t? Our babies! We need to ensure we’re taking time to eat healthy, even if it’s in numerous small meals and healthy snacks throughout the day. There are many simple but incredibly healthy snacks for breastfeeding moms who don’t have much time. These can be prepped beforehand and some can even be made in big batches to freeze.
Invest in a Good Breast Pump
A breast pump can make or break the pumping deal. If you’re dealing with a less-than-stellar pump, you might find pumping to be very difficult. The majority of women prefer an electric pump over a manual one, just for ease of use and because manual pumping can be physically more time-consuming. Electric pumps work by mimicking the suction and sucking actions of your baby. I absolutely love breastfeeding, but some times, I need a little break. I don’t know what I would do without my Ameda Purely Yours Double Electric Breast Pump. You can control both the suction and speed with this pump, which makes it easier to simulate a real breastfeeding session. I also love that this particular breast pump is both BPA-free and DEHP-free. When I was first looking for a pump shortly after big K was born about 4 1/2 years ago, this one was highly recommended by one of the most sought-after lactation consultants in our city. Ameda also has the only breast pump kit in the world with a protection barrier. Since it’s a closed-system with airlock protection (as opposed to an open-system that most other companies use), there is no way the milk can be contaminated with bacteria, mold or viruses since moisture cannot get the tubes or motor, and there’s no way for air to get into the bottles. Side note: You should never buy a used open-system breast pump, for this particular reason. Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto uses Ameda Breast pumps for their babies, so you know they are amazing! A good pump can make all the difference, and a double pump can really help make pumping that much quicker. I also love that this pump has the option to come with a carry-all bag and milk storage bag with freezer packs. This makes it extra handy when we are travelling or need to keep the milk cold for a while. Can you tell how much I love this pump?!
Breast-feed on Demand
When you’re with your baby, breastfeed whenever he or she needs it. This will ensure your supply is at its optimal level for when you pump.
Try to Pump More in the Morning
Our bodies naturally produce more milk in the mornings, so if possible, try to sneak in an extra pumping there in between feedings if you can, to help build up your supply. Only do this once your supply has been established (the first 6-8 weeks) and if you need to pump enough milk to stash up. Otherwise, pumping too much too early can increase your supply TOO much. If you’re going to be working full-time, for instance though, pumping more often is definitely recommended, once you’ve established your supply.
Store Milk in Small Batches
Try to store pumped milk in small batches – 2-4 oz – as this way, there will be less waste if your babe can’t drink it all in one sitting. There’s nothing worse than defrosting a big bag of milk only to have some of it go to waste. This stuff is liquid gold! Remember: you can always defrost more.
Mothers Choice Products has an awesome Ameda resource page for breastfeeding moms, including breastfeeding videos (so helpful!), milk storage guidelines, and tips for dealing with breastfeeding issues.
What is your favourite breastfeeding tip? Leave it here.