Pumping can come with some learning curves. These tips can help not only make pumping more bearable but possibly even more enjoyable, too.
If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll likely come across a situation where you’ll need to be away from your baby which means, you’ll probably need to pump. Or if you’ve decided to pump exclusively or combo-feed your baby.
We can all probably agree that pumping isn’t the most fun or enjoyable. Depending on what pump you’re using, you might be tethered to a wall outlet, or maybe you don’t have a hands-free pumping bra yet (more on that later). In any case, while we can agree that pumping usually isn’t as enjoyable as nursing your baby, sometimes pumping is necessary. Let’s make pumping more bearable, shall we?
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Tips to make your pumping experience more enjoyable
Look, maybe our definitions of enjoyable are different here, but with these seven tips, you’ll at least be able to relax while pumping that liquid gold. More relaxation means more milk, mama.
You could also opt for a hands-free, wireless breast pump such as the Willow in addition to the below tips. It’s a great option for those needing more convenience and flexibility around their pumping schedule.
1. Get the right flange size
Your pump probably came with one or two flange sizes. Right? This is pretty standard. Do you know what’s not standard? Your nipples.
The out-of-the-box flanges are often too large, and you may need a different size that’s not included with your pump. I love the handy measurement printable on the Spectra website. Alternatively, you can set up a consultation with me, and I can do a fitting for you—more on how to connect with my services below.
2. Use a hands-free nursing bra
How many times have you started to drift off while holding your flanges and bottles, and then milk starts sputtering out? Oh, just me? Getting a hands-free nursing bra gives you your hands back so you can find something good on Netflix with one hand and eat your snack with the other.
3. The lazy gal’s storage tip
Even if you have doubles of your pump parts (smart move, mama), washing them is still such a pain.
If you’re pumping multiple times a day or pumping at work, the cleaning and drying of pump parts can really add to the dread of pumping. Instead of washing them after every use, stick all of your pump parts into a clean, gallon-size sealable bag or container and store them in the fridge until your next use.
The reasoning behind washing parts each time is to eliminate any chance of bacterial growth. Putting them in the fridge keeps the leftover milk particles at a stable temperature. This will help lower the potential for harmful bacterial growth. Just be sure to wash your pump parts in hot soapy water once you get home or at the end of each day.
4. Look at photos or videos of your baby
This tip works well if you’re separated from your baby and pumping somewhere that’s not in the comfort of your own home.
Oxytocin, the love hormone, triggers your milk to release (aka your letdown) – if you’re not relaxed, this can delay your letdown and impact your milk output. Watching videos or scrolling through photos of your adorable baby will help you relax and help that oxytocin flow!
5. Set up a pumping station
When we fail to plan, we plan to fail. I’m not a fan of that saying, but it is kind of true when it comes to pumping. Similar to the oxytocin point above, if you’re not relaxed during pumping, you’re not going to enjoy it, and you’re not going to get as much out of it – literally.
Wherever you plan to pump, make sure to set yourself up (or ask your partner to do this for you!) a pumping station. Stock it with items such as:
- Comfortable pillows
- A water bottle
- Plenty of snacks
- Your phone and a charger
- A good book
- Whatever else you need to help relax
- An aromatherapy diffuser with lavender oil
6. Get more efficient with storage
Pump parts, bottles, and storage containers all mean more dishes. Ugh! Save yourself a step and attach storage bags to your pump!
Kiinde and Lansinoh make handy dandy adapters (like this one) for different pumps so that it’s easy to pump directly into breast milk storage bags. Then the bags can be labeled and put directly in the fridge or freezer. This way, you won’t risk any spilled milk when transferring from bottle to bag.
7. Put Socks over bottles
You’re probably like, wait, what? Yep, socks.
How many times have you watched the milk drip out into your pump bottles and started stressing about your milk supply? I see you. Slip some socks over your milk collection containers while you’re pumping so that you can’t see how much you’re getting. This handy little tip can help you relax, and it’ll also likely get you even more milk.