The reasons are plentiful for pumping: Whether you are going back to work, have a premature baby, live away from your baby, travel often, want to have a night off, want to go on a date, want your partner to share the feeding, rainy day or simply want to transition to a bottle….
If you are already feeding then get to know how your baby feeds and then choose your pump based on this. Does your baby feed quickly or nibble for an hour? Are you able to change the speed of your suction? What are your personal benefits of a hand pump compared to a mechanical? There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a breast pump and these are also linked to your reason for pumping and frequency of use. You could rent one firstly and then buy one when the time is right. It is illegal to sell a 2nd hand pump due to bacterial infections so consider this when purchasing one.
If you are going to be pumping regularly over a period of time, you may want to invest in a mechanical, timer based one that adjusts according to the milk flow. These usually have fewer parts to clean, which is a bonus.
For travelling moms, there is the hand pump that can attach to a bottle. These are great for handbags or carry on luggage and perfect for the ‘pump and dump’. It’s never the best situation to be pumping in airport toilet but the upside is if you are dumping the milk, the cleanliness of the actual pump doesn’t need to be to ‘milk storing’ standards.
Some moms like to tune out when pumping and can focus on other tasks like working, social media or reading a magazine with music. If you are able to do this, the mechanical pump would suit you. If you need to focus more on the task at hand, a pump might be better. A pumping bra can come in handy for these situations where your hands can be used for another task.
Pumping tip: If you are having difficulties pumping, try Pavlov’s dog technique. The times when you are feeding your baby, play a song (that you like) and then when you a ready to pump, play the same song. This can also work for a chair, magazine or some other similar process. The repetition of the sound or action whilst feeding can replay a psychological response to the corresponding action (feeding).
Twinning is winning. While you are feeding your baby, pump with the other. Your baby will initiate the ‘let-down’ process so that this will be easier for you. You could also try pumping whilst looking at your baby. If you are not with your baby, then you could try looking at pictures or videos of them, smelling their baby wrap or even holding something of similar bundle to your breast. There are some great pumping and nursing bras out there to cater for these situations.
Hand pump for a short amount of time to get the juices flowing (so to speak) and then attach the pump. It’s discerning to see how much of your breast actually is sucked into the pump, so take heed and realize how much is able to go down your babies throat. Some women like to watch the milk coming out, some women don’t. It’s all personal preference.
For many women, there is a ‘pumpers’ block. This is completely normal to feel obscure and cow-like, and therefore the flow doesn’t happen as easily as your baby’s mouth. For some, it’s difficult to imagine a clear, noisy and robotic thing is actually the same as feeding your baby. It is, eventually. Try these relaxation techniques and remember to create as many synonyms with your actual breastfeeding for better results.
Pumping for greater milk supply:
There are pros and cons to this and every baby is different, as well as every situation. Speak to your lactation consultant before attempting to pump for more milk. If you do need to pump for more milk, remember that your body will think that you are using it. It will produce more, you will therefore need to use more of it and pump more. This can happen rapidly for some women and can also lead to engorgement and babies that can get used to the over supply. Pumping for greater milk supply can lead to a reliance on your pump if your baby doesn’t actually need the greater supply.
If you simply want to have some extra milk on hand, try pumping from the breast you’ve just fed from for 15 minutes (left breast), and then the right breast (fed from) just after the 4th feed.
You could also try pumping at the same time as feeding on the opposite breast for the nighttime feed. Make sure to feed from both breasts to ensure that your baby is receiving ample hind milk, as is your bottle for later.
Set your pump to a lower setting until you start to flow, and then increase it when you are comfortable.
Make sure you are comfortable and relaxed
Think of your breastfeeding as a workout. Warm up with a stretch or a short walk, have plenty of water, eat a protein snack beforehand, have a smoothie to replenish your supply, drink coconut water during… etc.
Try not to think of yourself as a cow or fountain, unless this helps you of course.
Cleanliness: Your expressing equipment should be cleaned every 24 hours for a healthy baby. If you are expressing for a premature baby, your equipment will need to be cleaned to the guidelines of the hospital. Sterilizing only needs to occur every 24 hours if you are able to keep the parts rinsed and refrigerated, otherwise, sterilized every time is ideal.
Storing: Try to store the same amount as what your baby is consuming for each feed. This means that you don’t need to defrost as much and there will be less waste. Label it well with the date and the time of day. Make a special note on the scenario, like if it took you 10 pumps to fill one container or if it was a hind milk feed etc. You will then be able to feed your baby with the appropriate feed. Try to use the earlier fills to feed your baby so that these are not wasted.
Remember that you are amazing and able to create the perfect diet for your baby through your breast milk. Whatever you decide to do for your baby is the right answer. Enjoy motherhood.
Like many women out there, Katie Brooker is an avid multi-tasker. Apart from being the head designer and fit technician for Cake Maternity, she’s the mother of 2 diverse young girls. Her goal is to provide comfort and support to breastfeeding mothers and to help them achieve this with beautiful bras that will fit and endure that rigorous path. See more of her designs at www.cakematernity.com or follow her on @cakematernity