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How to get the most out of your pumping sessions

Last Modified: August 26, 2020

Women & Children

breastfeeding pumping

This post was written by Loretta Vogel, BSN, RN, community based registered nurse, Parkview Health.

I think we can all agree pumping is one of the hardest parts of breastfeeding. So many things can affect the amount of milk collected during a pumping session.

There is nothing more frustrating than pumping for 20-30 minutes and only seeing a few ounces. It can cause mothers a great deal of stress. After all, we need that milk to help feed our precious babies.

Things that will decrease your supply

Let’s begin with a few things that could decrease your milk supply:

  1. Starting your menses (period) or ovulating
  2. Stress
  3. Change in routine (going back to work, daycare, school, etc.)
  4. Some Medications (esp allergy/cold medications)

These are a few examples of things that could temporally decrease your milk supply. If any of these happen, try nursing as often as you can and following the pumping tips below.

Before you pump

Here are a few suggestions to help prepare yourself and your space before you start pumping:

  1. Collect pictures and videos of your baby.
  2. Pack your bag with water, snacks, pictures, videos, your phone and music. Anything that will help you relax.
  3. Pack a moist washcloth in a baggie. You can warm it up in the microwave, just enough to make it warm to the touch, but be sure to change the rag each day.
  4. Be sure to pack a cover. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just big enough to cover your breast while pumping.
  5. If you’re able, it’s also helpful to purchase a pumping bra so you can pump both sides at once.
Getting ready to pump

Here are a few helpful suggestions to assist you as you begin your pumping session:

  1. Take a moment to set everything up.
  2. Put on some music, the tv or whatever distracts you and helps you to relax.
  3. Apply a warm moist compress. You can place a moist washrag in the microwave for 10 seconds and add time if needed.
  4. Massage your breast from chest to nipple.
While you are pumping

Try a few of these suggestions during your pumping session:

  1. Try covering your breasts. It might seem silly, but it truly works.
  2. Start your pump as instructed by the manual or your lactation consultant.
  3. Apply your warm compress.
  4. Continue to massage throughout your pumping session.
  5. Try looking at images or videos of your baby to help with letdown.
  6. Breathe and relax.

Remember, breastfeeding is beautiful and 100% natural, but it’s not always easy. No matter how much you pump, be proud of yourself. You are amazing!

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