Top Tips for Expressing More Milk When Breast Pumping
What is a Breast Pump?
A breast pump is a device that mechanically extracts milk from the breasts of a lactating woman. These can be manual devices that are powered by hand or foot movements or also electrical devices powered by electricity or batteries. These allow direct collection of the pumped breast milk into a container that is being used for storage and feeding.
Many women prefer breast pumps to continue breastfeeding even they returned to work. This pumped breast milk is bottle fed to the baby. The breast pump is also used to relieve the pain when the breasts are overfull, that prevents a proper latch by the baby.
Medela Breast pump is one of the most popular brands. They use the original 2-Phase Expression technology which uses the one-touch let down button and helps in producing more milk in less time. Have a look at Pump in style Medela breast pump that’s designed for mothers who pump several times a day and it has a portable convenience for discreet pumping anywhere. They are also BPA free breast pumps.
A simple manual breast pump is the best option if you want to express milk for one feed a day or for an occasional break. Remember, it's best to wait until your baby is about six weeks old, before you offer him/her a bottle. A big advantage with manual pumps is their simplicity in use and convenient size. The manual pumps are also hand held breast pumps. Most moms would say that manual pumps feel very natural and closely mimic baby's sucking. These are cheaper, lightweight, quiet and simple-to-use than the electric ones. One of the best ones is the Avent Comfort Manual Breast Pump; it comes with a great design, therefore your milk flows from your breast directly into the bottle. Being able to sit comfortably and be relaxed when pumping helps the milk to flow more naturally and easily.
You’ll also find electric breast pumps and Double electric breast pumps in the markets today; they have an advantage over manual ones in being able to express your milk quickly. Mothers opt for these as they are easy and efficient. An electric pump lets you extract more milk in less time, which is of great use when you're a busy mum. These are also handy when you have twins. With an electric pump the work is automatically done at a pace that you set. This is time saving as well as saves from aching hands or difficult-to-maintain pumping patterns. The downside to these pumps is they are not portable as battery or manual breast pumps. They could also be more cumbersome or noisy. Try a cheap electric breast pump like Medela Mini Electric Breast Pump or a comfort breast pump like Avent Comfort double electric breast pump. And when you need to carry your pump around, look no further than a backpack breast pump like Medela’s Pump in Style Advanced Backpack.
Another kind that’s becoming quite popular these days is the hands-free breast pump. These work great with busy moms and these pumps make it easier for you to talk on the phone, work on the computer or read a book or while pumping.
Breast Pumping Tips
Breast pumping milk is a skill, just like breastfeeding your baby. We’ve put together some breast pumping tips to make it easier and to help you stimulate your milk, soothe sore nipples from pumping, and basically make pumping more convenient.
- Follow a routine for pumping- It helps when you pump at the same place, same chair and drink the same beverage. Also, use your mental tricks to relax and pump. This routine will condition your milk ejection reflex.
- Massage your breast before you pump. Let’s show you the proper beast pump technique- Begin at the armpit and use fingertips of your opposite hand to make a circular pattern on the breast tissue in that one spot. Then gradually move your hand slightly and repeat the circular motion. Slowly, work your way around the breast and gradually move down toward the areola region in a spiral pattern. Finish off with a series of long strokes from the chest wall area down to the areola, ensuring that you’re working your way around the breast. Then massage the other breast in the same way. If you notice that your milk flow is slowing down during a pumping session, try a few minutes of breast massage. This would be the most helpful to help get it going again.
- Drinking a few glasses of water before you pump also helps to a great deal
- This could sound a bit weird but visualizations also help a great deal – Get a visual of a flowing mountain stream or rivers running toward the ocean while you pump- or any image that helps your milk to let down and spray into the pump
- Look at a picture of your baby while you pump or anything that has to do with your baby- like their blankets or a piece of clothing
- Listen to some music- this helps in minimizing distractions while pumping; you can listen to your favorite music or soothing nature sounds like the ocean, rain forest, anything that appeals to you
You could also have a case of Sore Nipples when a baby is incorrectly latched. You might want to seek help to correct the latch-on /positioning problems that are causing sore nipples. Often, simple change in the positioning can fix the problem. Here are some ways to deal with sore nipples from pumping:
- Try a different pump or a lower suction setting and ensure that your nipple isn’t getting rubbed against the flange as you pump
- Try applying some ointment (like Lansinoh for Breastfeeding Mothers) which will soothe and heal the sore nipples. Gently pat it onto the nipples
- Remember, your own milk will also feel soothing to sore nipples
- Say no to synthetic bras and plastic-lined pads
- Breastfeed first on the least sore side and limit the feeding time on the sore nipple if necessary
- Babies could have a condition like tongue-tie that also causes sore nipples
- Try to breastfeed frequently (8-12 feeds per 24 hours) ; this will prevent the baby from sucking too vigorously which happens due to hunger
How to Pump More Milk
Milk supply usually varies throughout the day. As long as your baby is nursing on frequent schedule, your milk supply will accommodate your baby’s needs. The key is to pump more milk from the breast and to accomplish this frequently, so that less milk gets accumulated in the breast between feedings. This brings us to the question, how to increase milk supply while pumping?
- Breast pump as often as your baby nurses- ideally this is about every 3 hours. If you want to produce more milk then pump more frequently
- Early mornings produce more milk so schedule a pumping session early in the morning. If you’re looking to store more milk for the baby, this would be the best time
- Check the pump- Ensuring that you’re putting it together correctly and if some part of it is wearing out could help you. Also, check if it’s a rented one
- An excellent way that cannot go wrong is to pump on one breast while your baby nurses at the other as the baby will trigger the ejection reflex and you can collect milk from the other breast more easily
- Most women pump milk from both breasts simultaneously and they believe this increases the yield. It’s also observed that the prolactin levels are higher in the blood when you pump simultaneously
When you feel that your pump is continuously letting you down, maybe it’s time for a new one. Invest in one that’s of a better quality or try a Breast pump rental -a hospital grade pump for a couple of weeks and check the difference! (Best hospital grade breast pumps like Medela Symphony/Freestyle/ Lactina Select or Ameda Elite or Hygeia Enjoye). Parts of your breast pump may also have become defective and you may want to replace them and a good thing is that there are places that sell breast pump replacement parts. If you just need spare or replacement parts for your Avent, Unimom or Medela breast pump, there are some companies that are ready to help, so you don’t have to spend a lot!
When to Pump While Breastfeeding
Have you wondered when is the best time to pump? If you are breastfeeding and want to store breast milk for your baby:
- Begin in the morning as many women get the most milk in the morning!
- Pump between breastfeeding periods, either 30-60 minutes after nursing or an hour before breastfeeding. This should ensure that plenty of milk is left for your baby for your next feeding
- If you notice that your baby wants to breastfeed right after a pumping session, go ahead
- Plan to pump 8-10 times each day if you are pumping for a non breastfeeding baby. The full milk production is 25-35 oz. (750-1,035 ml) per day. Once a mother has reached full milk production, they can maintain their milk supply by pumping 6-7 times a day
How to Pump Breast Milk Effectively
As mentioned earlier, a great tip to speed up the production of milk and increase the milk supply in general, is to have more milk removed from the breast frequently and in doing so, lesser milk accumulates in the mother's breast in between feeding sessions. Try pumping after the baby nursed or you may also pump another side while your baby nurses on the other. You could also pump while baby is sleeping. When you’re pumping because you want to increase your milk supply, it’s recommended to pump for about 15 minutes; this ensures that the pump has removed some amount of milk from the breasts. Breast massages and compressions also help a great deal in pumping milk effectively.
Now that you’ve worked so hard to effectively pump milk, wouldn’t you want to store it effectively as well? It’s so important to store it properly in a safe and sanitary place like breast milk storage bags. Make sure that you do not fill it to the top & you mark them with a date! You can use bags/ containers that are BPA Free and those that are specifically designed for storing breast milk.
When you’re giving your best to your baby, make sure the breast pumps are properly cleaned as well. We may be able to help you with only general tips on cleaning and for specific information about cleaning your breast pump according to the brand, check the instruction manual. So, here’s how to clean breast pump- make sure you sterilize them well and thoroughly wash away germs and bacteria with a good liquid dishwashing soap and warm water. A few can also be put into the dishwasher but please check the instruction manual first.
Pain While Pumping Breast Milk
Some moms experience no pain but studies indicate that the majority of women in the US and some western countries have some nipple pain in the beginning. Transient soreness or the typical nipple pain is normal and does not indicate any problem. It could be a latch on pain or due to tongue tie/ receding chin/ unusual palate shape or a short tongue (baby’s). Get an investigation done if its engorgement or if you see skin damage.
A breast pump is an investment and is not an old piece of new mom gear. Having a good quality one can make your life a whole lot easier. You might even end up breastfeeding longer because you picked the perfect pump.