Pumping

Pumping Basics

Vacuum

  • Highest comfortable suction, not highest tolerable suction.
  • Pain is not normal. More vacuum does not mean more milk.

Flange Fit

  • Best drain, most comfortable, nipple not rubbing.
  • Try changing sizes, try using a pumping lubricant (store bought or olive oil or coconut oil).

Length Of Time

  • 10-30 minutes
  • 3-5 minutes past last drops, but no longer than 30 minutes (unless milk is still flowing).

Frequency 

  • 8-12 times a day for the first 6 weeks
  • 6-10 times a day. Six if you are pumping large volume, twelve if you are trying to make more milk.

Cycling/Speed

  • Stimulate (fast) or express (slower)?
  • If you are expressing, or the milk is flowing and you are collecting the milk, use a slower cycle.
  • If you are looking to “ask your body for more milk” use a high speed or a vibration setting.
  • Seek help if you can’t seem to get a comfortable fit that drains your breasts well.

Flange Fit

  • The best flange fit is comfortable and effective. If your nipples aren’t rubbing and your breasts seem to be draining, the flange you are using is fine.

Pumping Techniques

Try out a variety of pumping techniques. Take it or leave it. Some or all of these techniques may help you pump more efficiently, comfortably, and/or with the least mental frustration.

“Check-in”

“Check in” means you mentally get into your body. Ask yourself, “where am I and what am I doing?”  You are attached to a pump, expressing your milk. You are watching the milk come out. You are using hands on pumping. You are focusing on draining a full section of your breast.  You are checked in when you are actively thinking about the pumping process.

“Check-in” Strategies:

  • Warm up and wake up your breasts using a source of warmth and boob massage.
  • Hands on Pumping
  • 5-5-7 deep breathing with focus on slowing your breathing, relaxing your body, and slowing your heart rate.

“Check-out”

“Checking out” means shifting your mental focus to something other than the physical act of pumping. Also know as “getting out of your head.” Checking out is a really important strategy when you are too all up in your pumping session. Sometimes, you just need to leave it alone.

“Check-out” Strategies:

  • Check out to baby—Memorize your baby, get a status report or picture from childcare. Look at pictures and videos of your baby. Trick your mind and heart into thinking the baby is there with you.
  • Check out to distraction- complete work tasks, listen to a podcast, watch Netflix, listen to music.
  • Check out to guided meditation- check out Headspace, Insight Timer or another meditation app and follow along.
  • 5-5-7 deep breathing with focus on clearing your mind.
  • USE HEADPHONES to get the sound of the pump out of your ears. If your pump is “talking to you,” put on headphones and check out.

“Hands-On”

If you don’t have a hands-free pumping bra yet, you need to get one ASAP. Here’s how to set up the Simple Wishes Bra

While your waiting for Amazon prime to deliver your bra, you can cut holes in a an old sports bra or McGyver it like this:

Hands on Strategies (often done while also “checking-in” to your body):

  • Warm up and wake up your breasts (especially if it is cold out!)
  • Use firm, not painful compressions. Try using your knuckles, your fingertips or a deep sandwich. Don’t be afraid to really get in there!
  • Try taking a break and turning the pump off to look for spots to drain.
  • Try pumping one breast at a time. Often one breast can handle a higher vacuum than another.
  • Try hand expression after pumping
  • Repeat a fast, stimulation cycle at the end of your pumping session

Hands off

Just like it sounds. Set the pump up, set a timer, and let ‘em pump without the help of your hands.

Hands off works well with the “check out” method. You may want to cover up your set up with a cover or sweater so you aren’t tempted to check in or put your hands on your set up.

When it comes to pumping, just experiment until you find whatever works best for your body and your mind at that particular pumping session. You’ve got this.