Ten More Tips for Pumping Mamas

Mama Say What?! mama Corey P. posted a fantastic list of advice for all the mamas who pump for their babes, and her tips are so helpful, whether you’re pumping occasionally for date-night, daily at work, or full-time for a baby who won’t nurse. I wanted to add a few more bits of advice based on my experience.

I expected to be the occasional pumper, but my daughter was born with a tongue tie that prevented her from nursing properly, and by the time we got a diagnosis and corrected the problem, we’d had to give her bottles and she would no longer nurse.

Thus began my three months as an exclusively pumping mama, and let me be the first to tell you that pumping can be hard! Especially in the beginning. Thankfully, after those three months, my baby did go back to nursing, but in the meantime I learned some things about pumping that might just help some of you. So, here goes!

1. Check the Flange Size The flanges aren’t one-size-fits-all. I didn’t know that at first! In retrospect it seemed like a no-brainer… all nipples aren’t the same size, so why should all flanges be the same size? I had to get bigger sizes than what came with my pump, and play around with them. I actually settled on different sizes for each breast, and I’ve since been told by lactation consultants that that’s not unusual. It can be tricky to find the best size, but one of the best indicators is how much milk you’re getting. If you’re getting very little with 27 mm size, and get a much larger output with 30 mm size, chances are that’s the right fit for you!

2. Lubricate You can lubricate your flanges with a drop of olive oil (or any cooking oil), and not only will it increase comfort and reduce chafing, but it may also help increase your output! It definitely made a difference for me.

3. Think About Your Baby If you have a hard time letting down for the pump, think about your baby. It makes sense, right? You’re not bonded to this machine – you’re bonded to your child. So looking at photos of your munchkin or even listening to a recording of his or her babbling voice or cries may help trigger that let-down.

4. Warmth! Heat = relaxation = milk comes out easier. Try to pump in a comfortably warm place, and if you’re having trouble relaxing, drape a heating pad or hot towel over your shoulders. You also may find your output increases when you pump right after a nice, warm shower or bath.

5. Create Your Own Letdown Cues If you have a regular pumping routine, you can create “letdown cues” for yourself. If you listen to the same music, drink the same beverage, or even just sit in the same chair each time you pump, that familiar sensation can, over time, help trigger your milk to let down more quickly. This definitely happened for me – when I was awake pumping throughout the night for my newborn, I watched episodes of a favorite TV show to stay awake. Soon, the theme song would come on and BOOM – my milk would let down!

6. Timing Milk supply is often greatest early in the morning, so if you just want to pump once a day to build a freezer stash, consider setting time aside in your morning routine if possible. On the other hand, if you want to pump to increase supply, you may want to pump in the evening when supply is usually lower. Emptier breasts signal your body to produce more milk.

7. Pump the Hindmilk If you pump after your baby nurses, you may not get much milk, but what’s there is the seriously good stuff, full of nouri