Breast Pumping Tips

11 March 2021

by Dr Melanie Majaham, Consultant Peadiatrician

Why do women pump? It could be for various reasons , such as being separated from your baby when you go back to work , as a means to maintain your milk supply  or to feed a baby who is currently unable to latch directly due to medical conditions such as, prematurity.

Pumping is something that can feel rather mechanical as oppose to breastfeeding a baby directly and many women struggle to attain a good amount when they initially start pumping. Some of  these tips below may assist you in  pumping more effectively for your baby .

  1. Most importantly , get a good breast pump . Good breast pumps can be expensive but tend to have a better variety of suctioning power and modes and is more comfortable . A double pump is more bulky but can save precious time for pumping . A manual pump will take longer to pump but can be effective if used properly and is also easier to carry around  . Do study the options available and obtain one from a reputable company. A cheap pump may cause additional problems like inadequate suction or pain on pumping and this can lead to breast engorgement or nipple injury
  2. Do ensure the flanges (the part of the breast pump that is attached to your breasts) are correctly sized to prevent excessive pressure to the nipple. This can lead to nipple pain and injury.
  3. Massage your breasts before and during pumping as this not only assists in milk let-down, but also improves milk flow through the ducts . You might even consider hand expression after pumping to empty the breasts further.
  4. If you are exclusively pumping, do stick to a regular schedule, possibly 8-10 times daily . Do not go more than 5 hours without emptying the breast as this can not only lead to engorgement, but can jeopardize your milk supply in the long run
  5.  If you are still nursing, but have decided to pump to increase your freezer stash , do pump in between nursing sessions. You can do this 30-60 minutes after nursing your baby or 1 hour before the next feed.
  6. Getting a milk let-down can take time when you are using a pump. Some women need to look at photos or videos of their babies, or even bring a piece of baby’s clothing just to stimulate the letdown. Do go to a quiet room where you can relax when pumping.
  7. Don’t get discouraged when you don’t obtain much milk initially. Your body needs to get used to the pump before it is able to have a good milk let-down. As time goes by, your body will adapt and be able to pump adequately provided you are using a good quality breast pump.

If you are not able to pump as effectively as you like, or if you find that you are experiencing nipple pain or breast engorgement despite regular pumping, do seek help from a health care professional or a lactation consultant.