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Tips for Pumping Breast Milk

Getting the Most out of Your Breast Pump

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Updated May 20, 2014

Woman using a breast pump
Photo © Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Pumping breast milk does not have to be a pain or a chore. Here are some easy tips to increase the amount of milk, make pumping easier and generally help you in your pumping.

 

  • Pump Selection. Selection of the right pump is very important. Be sure that the pump you have selected will meet your needs. The mother who will need to pump only occasionally has very different needs than the mother who pumps several times a day. This includes a breast pump with the correct flange fit to maximize breast milk pumped and avoid damage to your breasts.

     

  • Getting started. If you're going back to work you can start a couple of weeks prior to your return. Sometimes it helps to nurse the baby on one side while pumping on the other to get in the "hang of it." This will also help with let down issues and allow you to build an emergency supply.

     

  • Increasing Supply. Pump more frequently rather than for longer periods. Instead of pumping twice during your day for long periods of time, try pumping three or four shorter periods. Pumping both breasts at the same time can help.

     

  • Don't skip. Skipping a session can have a negative effect on your milk supply. Pumping even for a few minutes (rather than your usual amount of time) can still be beneficial.

     

  • Weekends & Holidays. Use this time for exclusive nursing. It can help keep your milk supply abundant as well as promote bonding between you and baby.

     

  • Baby Love. We all know that it's easier to feed the baby than the pump. If let down is a problem for you with a pump, try viewing photos of your baby while pumping. Many pump cases have a spot designed for this purpose. One mom actually tape recorded the coos of her baby and would listen in her headphones while she pumped.

     

  • No pumps. Using a mechanical pump, either hand or electric, is not the only way to express milk. Many moms do just fine with hand expression. Though very few will be able to use this technique for working, but it works quite nicely for an occasional need for expressed milk and costs very little if anything.

     

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How to Pump and Store Breast Milk
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