7 Important Things Lactation Consultants Want You To Know About Pumping
Some top IBCLCs share their best advice on what they wish more women know about the art of pumping breast milk.
Pumping breast milk isn’t exactly something women innately know how to do…
And it’s definitely not as enjoyable as breastfeeding! (snuggling with your cute, cuddly baby vs. being hooked up to a cold, sterile machine)
It’s important to learn all you can about pumping so you don’t waste a moment doing it incorrectly.
Ready to UP your pumping game?!
We asked some top lactation consultants (IBCLCs) the question, “What’s one thing you wish more women knew about pumping?”
Here’s what they said...
(this post may contain affiliate links)
#1. NOT ALL PUMPS ARE CREATED EQUAL
“Not all pumps are created equal. With the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the U.S, insurance companies provide a new pump for moms. Many insurance companies end up providing cheap pumps that don’t empty the breast well. If you’re not emptying well to a pump, you may need to rent or buy a better pump to reach your breastfeeding goals.”
-Julie Matheney, IBCLC at The LA Lactation Lady
2. THE IMPORTANCE OF A CORRECT FLANGE FIT
“Getting the proper flange fit is the KEY to success! Flanges that are too small or too big can impact milk expression and your long-term milk supply.”
-Holly Beck, IBCLC at The Holding Presence
“Most of the time a different flange size, other than the ones that come with the pump, is needed. The size and shape is very important—many women do better with a silicone pump flange rather than the typical hard plastic ones.”
-Jacqueline Kincer, IBCLC, CSOM at Holistic Lactation
THESE are way more comfortable than traditional flanges. Plus they allow you to sit back while pumping so you don’t have to slouch forward the whole time. (and each set comes with THREE different sizes so you’ll be sure to find one that fits!)
3. IDEALLY - WAIT UNTIL 4 WEEKS POSTPARTUM TO PUMP
“As long as it’s not medically necessary to pump, it’s important to wait until four weeks postpartum to begin. Let the baby naturally regulate your milk supply instead.”
-Barbara Ryan, IBCLC at Barbara Ryan
“I try to suggest to mothers that they put less pressure on themselves to start expressing huge quantities of milk when baby is newly born. There may be a need for pumping earlier (if baby is ill, premature, doesn’t latch, etc.), otherwise my advice is to enjoy breastfeeding your baby that first month and put off pumping for awhile.”
-Bronwyn Balcomb, IBCLC at Mama Nurture
4. DON’T STRESS ABOUT YOUR FREEZER STASH
“It’s usually not necessary to build up a huge freezer stash. You’ll be pumping every time baby gets a bottle in order to maintain your milk supply. For example, if you work, you’ll be pumping at work as many times as the baby gets a bottle while you’re away so you’ll be bringing home milk every day. Please don’t ruin those precious early days of breastfeeding and cuddling by stressing about building a huge freezer stash. Enjoy all the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding while you can!”
-Lisa Paladino CNM, IBCLC at Lisa Paladino
5. GET COMFORTABLE AND DISTRACT YOURSELF
“So many mothers find themselves tense and anxious when pumping. This can affect output of pumped milk. When pumping make sure to find a location where you feel secure and can relax. Listen to music, look at pictures of your baby, read a book…anything to distract you from unnecessary anxiety.”
-Nicole Kekesi RD, IBCLC at Breastfeeding Resource Center at Virtua
6. HAND EXPRESSION IS ALSO A POWERFUL EXPRESSION TOOL.
“Be sure to learn hand expression as well.”
-Danielle Downs Spradlin, IBCLC at Oasis Lactation Services
7. THE AMOUNT YOU PUMP DOES NOT INDICATE YOUR SUPPLY
“The amount of milk that you pump does not tell you how much milk you make, just the amount that you removed at that pumping session.”
-Karen W. Bell, IBCLC at Breast Is Best Lactation Services
“Many women worry that they have a low milk supply, based on their pumping output. But the actively nursing baby removes more milk than any pump, so pumping isn’t a good way to judge. Many factors affect how much is removed at a pumping session including time of day, flange size, type of pump, and even whether mama is staring at the bottles while pumping.”
-Beverley Rae, MSW, IBCLC at Breastfeeding Resources
*BONUS! THE FRIDGE HACK
“You don't have to wash your flanges at work every time you pump! After you’re done pumping - simply place your flanges and empty bottles in a large zip-lock bag and put it in the fridge. It’s then ready to go when you need to pump again the same day! Then you only have to wash your flanges once every 24 hours.”
-Karolina Ochoa, BSN, IBCLC at Karolina Ochoa
summary of the amazing tips provided by lactation consultants to help you be the best pumper you can be!
Some pumps are better than others.
Find a flange that fits correctly.
Wait to pump unless medically necessary.
Don’t stress about pumping to excess for the freezer.
Try to reduce your anxiety and distract yourself while pumping.
Learn hand expression.
Pumping only a little doesn’t mean you have a low milk supply.