Tips for Breast Pumping

Tips for Improving Breast Pumping Efficiency

by Jessica Fox

As a new breastfeeding mother, I found the evidence based advice to not be very specific when it came to pumping. Like many mothers I felt like I wasn’t making enough when trying to pump and worried that I wouldn’t be able to meet my goal to feed my sons only breastmilk while I was at work.
After months of trial and error I learned some basic techniques that made a big difference in the amount of breastmilk that I was able to express. The type of pump, the frequency and length of the pumping sessions all play a role in how much milk you’ll get. If you are struggling to pump enough to meet the needs of your baby there are different tricks, many minor tweaks that have helped me and many of my clients to increase the amount of breast milk expressed per session.

For best results, try to combine as many of these suggestions as you are able:

– If pumping at work try to time your breaks at baby’s usual mealtimes
– Be hydrated, drink water right before and during pumping (for myself cold water worked best)
– Being relaxed when pumping is important, muscular tension can inhibit the milk letdown. If your neck and shoulders are tense, chances are that you will have a hard time getting much milk out. Deep breaths, relaxing music, brief meditation, whatever works for you as a quick relaxant will help. A lot of moms find that using a hands free pumping bra allows them to have a more relaxed posture than holding the flanges against your chest (you can easily make your own pumping bra out of an old sports bra).
– Avoid multi-tasking while pumping- it’s harder for your brain to have a good letdown with a
machine so focusing on baby helps. Some moms use a piece of clothing that baby wore, a picture of baby, a video. In my case a recording of baby crying gave me more milk than a picture of him smiling and it was double the amount of milk than if I was just sitting there eating, watching TV, “Facebooking” or texting while pumping.
– I know it’s hard to do but avoid staring at the bottles while pumping as stressing over ounces will reduce output will increase tension which reduces output. Putting your shirt or a blanket over the breast flanges can help with this.
– Using breast massage and compressions before and while pumping greatly increases the output since you’re able to get milk out that the suction of the pump can’t get. This video is very helpful in teaching this technique
– Dry pumping for several minutes after the last drop sends the signal to your body that it needs to make more milk. For me I found that drinking a tall glass of water while still dry pumping would give me a second letdown with an average of an extra ounce per side.

I hope that at least some of these tips are useful to you. If you have further questions please call a La Leche League Leader, WIC Peer Counselor or Lactation Consultant.

About the Author: Jessica Fox lives in Port St Lucie Florida with her husband and 2 boys that were breastfed despite encountering numerous booby traps that made her passionate about breastfeeding support. She is a Breastfeeding Educator, works as a Breastfeeding Peer
Counselor for WIC and volunteers as a La Leche League Leader.

© 2012-2015 Jessica Fox All Rights Reserved. This handout may be freely duplicated. Please be aware that the information provided is intended solely for general educational and informational purposes only. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.