Pumping may feel like an arduous task, particularly if you are new to it, or if you are concerned about maintaining your supply once you return to work. Try these tried and tested tips to help you get the maximum milk output from your pumping sessions:
1. Check your flange/shield size. Is it comfortable? Your nipple should fit flush against the flange/shield, filling it without and rubbing as you pump. As a guide you should measure the base of your nipple and then add 3-5mm to find your correct flange size.
2. Take a drink and some snacks with you as you prepare to pump. There is no direct link between adequate hydration and milk output (unless you are severely dehydrated); this step is simply about looking after yourself, mama.
3. Gently (emphasis on the gently) massage, tap or knead your breasts, starting below your armpit in circular motions moving towards your nipple for a few minutes before you start pumping.
4. Do a few rounds of 4-7-8 breathing before you start. To do this, inhale for the count of 4, hold your breath for the count of 7 and exhale completely, softening your shoulders for the count of 8. This technique calms your parasympathetic nervous system, getting your body and mind ready to pump.
5. Look at photos or videos of your babe to get that oxytocin flowing and to help induce a let down as you pump. Turn up the volume on any videos for maximum effectiveness.
6. Flood your sense receptors with your baby by smelling one of their worn items of clothing as you express.
7. Listening to your favourite songs may help you to get your body and mind ready for that liquid gold to flow, too. Choose music that you have an emotional connection too for best results.
8. Change your pump parts frequently as per manufacturer guidelines, so that you know that your pump is working as effectively as possible.
9. Pump for less time, more frequently to maximize milk output. For instance, pumping three times a day for 10 minutes will signal to your breasts to produce more milk than pumping once day for 30 minutes. Take care not to inadvertently create an over supply if you do this by only pumping as much milk as you need to each day.
10. Look after yourself. Stress, malnutrition and a lack of sleep can all have a detrimental impact upon your milk supply as a breastfeeding mama. Take care of yourself, ask for help when you need it and trust your body to do the rest.
My pump of choice is the Lola and Lykke Smart Electric Breast Pump. Get a generous 15% off yours with discount code DANIELLE15, here: https://lolalykke.com?sca_ref=2430191.PdVTpg0ili
If you have concerns about an under or over supply of milk, seek 1-2-1 support from an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). If your budget is tight, you can access IBCLC support through a free app called Anya which is available via the Apple App Store and on Google Play too.