Okay pumping mamas, this post is all about you! Whether you are pumping to store just a little extra for a night out or you’re a full-time working and pumping/ breastfeeding mom, having the know-how to get the most out of your pumping sessions is so valuable. Our lives as mothers are so busy that every minute truly counts! So if I were to share a few tips that may shave a few minutes off your pumping routine, you’d be all ears, right? I get questions and comments all the time from pumping moms like this:
“Can I pump just a few times a day – not as often as baby feeds, but for longer periods and still keep up my milk supply and make enough milk?” or
“I have a really good milk supply and don’t have the time to pump, I’ll be okay going 5-6 hours between pumping sessions, right?!”
hours between pumping sessions, right?!”
My response is always the same. Frequent breast stimulation (every 2-3 hours you’re away from baby), is what maintains your breast milk production and breast milk supply. It’s based off supply and demand. Which means, pumping less would mean less milk. So you can’t get away with pumping less often and still meet your baby’s needs, but you can make your pumping sessions as efficient as possible. Who doesn’t want to get more milk out in less time?! Keep in mind, as baby gets older and is feeding less often, you’ll want to pump at least as often as your baby is having nursing sessions.
I know that you don’t want to spend your life hooked up to a machine that goes ee-ah-ee-ah for any longer than you need to! I remember pumping when I went back to work as a labor and delivery nurse and I was a little overwhelmed when I started- but pretty soon I had a system down and I flew through my pumping routine and pumping schedule! Today I want to give you 3 tips to help the milk flow, and help you get the most amount of breastmilk out in the least amount of time during your pumping sessions. Let’s be honest, we’ve got other things to do, and want to be with our little ones, right?!
#1 – Get familiar with your pump and it’s parts
If possible, get to know your electric breast pump or hospital grade pump before you ever need to use it. As a new mom, it can be frustrating trying to figure out how to work something for the first time postpartum when you need to use it right then! Becoming familiar with it a little while in advance can help ease any of those worries and create confidence with the pump. Get the pump out of its box, read the instructions, take apart the parts and put them back together a few times, plug it in, power it on and off, and learn any of the functions.
Just for you: Did you know you can get a free breast pump through your insurance? Click here to get it ordered.
Cheat sheet: The flange is the circular part of the pump that touches your breast and you want to be sure you have the right size! When you start pumping, check to be sure there’s just a little bit of space all the way around your nipple as it goes in and out. You can also book an online consult with us to make sure you have the right size!
#2 – Go hands-free
Did you know that pumping alone just provides suction, but when a baby is breastfeeding they are applying suction plus compression? So pumping by itself can leave out compression altogether. There’s a way around this! Research shows that using your hands (doing breast massage + compression) while your pumping gets the most milk out. This is where going hands-free with your nursing bra comes in handy! The clip and pump hands-free pumping accessory from Bravado Designs is a great option because it easily attaches to any nursing bra so you don’t have to completely switch bras every time you need to pump.
Here’s how it works:
Just for you: You can get 15% off your total purchase with the code ‘LLINK15’ on bravadodesigns.com. They also have great maternity and nursing bras and tanks. Here’s a few other posts that show some of my favorite nursing bras: Best Nursing bras and tanks || Nursing bra myths debunked
#3 – Establish a routine
Set reminders for your pumping breaks! It’s easy to get into work or travel mode and forget about the clock! Setting a reminder on your phone for specific times can help you remember to pump every 2-3 hours. Frequency in pumping is the most important thing when it comes to maintaining your milk supply when you’re away from your baby.
Pumping: Use the hands-on pumping technique that incorporates breast compressions (more on this in my courses) for 10-15 minutes to increase let-down (depending on how much time you have). We also have information in our Pumping and Storing Breastmilk online course about power pumping to increase milk supply and help avoid low milk supply!
Washing the parts: A quick wash with hot, soapy water for the parts that come in contact with your breastmilk is recommended by the CDC. If you’re using a shared pump, wipe it down with a disinfectant. You can let your pump parts air dry on a paper towel.
Storing the milk: If you’re at home, remember that breastmilk is good for 5 hours at room temperature, so don’t feel like you have to rush it to the fridge if it’s the middle of the night. When you go to store it, you always want to label it with the date (you’ll always use the oldest milk first), and if you’re using a shared fridge (like at the hospital or work), you’ll want to add your initials, too. As soon as you can, get it stored either in the fridge or freezer, not on the doors and as far back as possible.
Cheat sheet: In a pinch and don’t have time for a full 10-15 min pumping break? A 2-5 min hand expression session over a sink or with a towel on your lap will help until you can get your pumping session in. Double pumping is also a great way to be as time effective as possible while pumping.
I hope these 3 tips on pumping were helpful! Want more tips from a board certified lactation consultant? Sign up for our newsletter or join me inside my Confident Breastfeeding Courses!
Thanks for stopping by,
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC