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7 Secrets for Successful Pumping for Breastfeeding Moms

Whether you’re going back to work, planning an evening out or just looking for a break from breastfeeding, pumping is an excellent way to ensure your baby benefits from your breast milk. Pumping is the process of collecting breastmilk by hand, or manual or electric pump. It is then fed to your baby via bottle. 

For many moms, the process — between learning to use the equipment and wondering whether you’re pumping enough milk — can be an overwhelming, intimidating experience. Here are some tips to make pumping stress-free. 

Understand that no two pumping experiences are the same, and one mom’s idea of success will look different from another’s. You’ll likely hear a lot of opinions from friends and family members about the “best” pump and the “right” way to do it. But ultimately, only you can set your expectations and goals while defining what success means.

Secret #1: Choose the Right Pump

There are a range of pumps available — hands-free, closed system/open system, electronic, and manual — and choosing one can be daunting. Get a sense of what’s available and become familiar with pumping terms and equipment. Finding the right pump that works best for your body may take a little trial and error. Not all pumps work the same on everyone. Hospital grade pumps are high-performing and highly durable. Check with your local hospital to see if you can rent one of theirs. 

Many insurance plans provide free pumps or charge a small copay. Contact your insurance company to see what’s covered under your plan. You also can learn how to purchase pump accessories, including flanges, nipple shields, tubing and milk storage containers. 

Secret #2: Consider Your Goals

Each mom’s pumping goals are different, so spend some time thinking about yours. Is your goal to have enough milk for when you are away from your baby? How long do you plan to pump? And remember, it’s perfectly OK to move the goalposts if something isn’t working for you. 

Secret #3: Work with a Board-Certified Lactation Consultant

No matter what your comfort level might be, working with a lactation consultant can help your journey go more smoothly. Look for someone who is an international board-certified lactation counselor (IBCLC). They will work with you and your pumping equipment to empower your breastfeeding and pumping journey. 

Secret #4: Find Something that Reminds You of Your Baby

A photo of your baby, a toy or stuffed animal, or an item of clothing that smells like your child can help your milk production and stimulate the let-down reflex. Rather than staring at the pump and counting each drop as it falls into the storage container, holding something that reminds you of your baby can make sessions go smoother and quicker. 

Secret #5: Consider Guided Meditation

Guided meditations specifically for pumping are available on YouTube, like this one. Stress is linked with reduced milk production, and meditation can help reduce stress levels, which is especially helpful if you’re pumping at work. These sessions can help you relax and increase milk output. One study found that women who listened to a relaxation meditation had a 63 percent increase in milk production. 

Secret #6: Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated goes hand-in-hand with successful breastfeeding and pumping. Try to drink at least 90 to 120 ounces of water throughout the day to keep your milk supply up. Breast milk is approximately 90 percent water, along with all the important nutrients your baby needs. Staying hydrated can help the milk flow and ensure continued production. 

Secret #7: Be Gentle with Yourself

No matter why or how often you pump, it’s a time-consuming process. On top of that, many moms are also juggling full-time jobs, parenting and household responsibilities. Do what you can and carve out the time you have, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Your emotional and mental well-being are important keys to being a good parent.


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