Pumping breast milk lets you provide your child with all the valuable nutrients of breast milk, even if you have to be away from him or her for longer periods. Here are a few easy tips to help you pump more milk.
Use the tool that’s right for you
The first decision you have to make is whether to use a pump at all. It’s certainly more economical to express milk by hand (it costs nothing) but it takes some getting used to. If you prefer to use a pump, there are both electric and manual models available. Either will work… provided the pump meets your needs. It has to have the correct flange fit to maximize the flow of breast milk and keep from hurting your breasts.
Express milk frequently
It’s better to express milk more frequently than it is to do it for longer stretches. Instead of pumping for 30 minutes twice a day, try doing it for just a few minutes 6-8 times each day.
Also, it doesn’t just save time to express milk from both breasts at the same time, it also helps keep up your body’s natural breast milk production capability. If at all possible, avoid skipping sessions — this can reduce milk production.
Get your timing right
Most mothers find pumping breast milk works best in the morning, or right after a shower or bath. This is because they’re able to get a good ‘let down,’ which is the reaction that carries the milk from the milk ducts to the nipple, where in turn the breast pump can suck out milk.
Drink and eat while you’re pumping breast milk
You’ll naturally feel thirsty and hungry while you pump breast milk, so make a point of eating to your appetite and drinking lots of water. Producing milk when you’re thirsty or starving is hard! This also helps keep your milk production up.
Get yourself comfortable
It takes time to express or pump breast milk, so think up what you can do while you pump to avoid getting bored. If you find you’re able to pump better when all is quiet, then look for a distraction-free spot that lets you relax and focus. If you like some distraction, then talk on the phone, watch TV, read a book, surf the web, listen to music, or similar.
Similarly, wear clothes which make it easier to pump or express. This might mean a nursing dress, an ‘express yourself’ bra, a nursing bra, a bikini top, or other clothes that let you access your breasts without undressing.
Massage your breasts
Before pumping or expressing, prepare a bowl of water (lukewarm) and two face cloths. Wet the cloths then place them on your breaths for 5 minutes. Take off one cloth at a time, keeping the other breast covered. Or, if you’re going to double express, then remove the cloths simultaneously and start rubbing your breasts gently.
Start at the top, pressing the breast firmly but gently with the flat side of your fingers. Move your fingers with a circular motion, focusing on one spot a few seconds and then moving on to another spot. Towards the areola, use a twirling motion.