Breast pumping. Where do I even begin? When I was an expectant first time mom, I was terrified of the thing. For whatever reason, unbeknownst to me at the time, I was intimidated by my pump. As time went on, I realized it was for a good reason! Breast pumping, and all that it entails, is a true balancing act. No one warned me of the wild pumping journey I had ahead of me. A lot of what I learned along the way was through trial and error… and lots of googling! I reached out to mom friends and asked them to give me all of their best pumping hacks so that I can share them with you. Whether you are an expectant first time mom or a veteran pumper, hopefully there is something here for you!
1.Make sure you have a high quality pump. These are the two electric breast pump sets I have personally used and see recommended the most. One or both of these options are likely covered by your insurance.
- Medela Pump in Style Advanced This pump comes in a tote or backpack option for your convenience. My Medela PISA has been extremely reliable through two babies now.
- Spectra S1 Plus This pump is lightweight, quiet, and rechargeable. I invested in the Spectra as a back-up for baby #2 and have not been disappointed.
2. Work smarter, not harder.
- Implement a night or morning routine. This will help to ensure you get everything ready and packed for the day if you are heading to work.
- Pumping is laborious. If you need help, get your partner involved in cleaning pump parts. This is a great way for him to support you!
- Especially early on, you may leak during a letdown. A silicone “breast pump” (more like a letdown catcher in my opinion) can be so helpful to save that milk that would otherwise be wasted.
- These micro-steam bags are nifty if you need to quickly disinfect!
- Buy extra storage bottles so that you don’t have to wash them every night.
- If you need to pump on the go, freemies are a great option!
3. Keep your pump bag stocked. Here are some things that veteran moms suggest keeping in your bag:
- A manual pump. Why, might you ask? Sometimes if you are busy and on-the-go, you might forget pump parts. Or (God forbid!) your pump dies on you. Ask any pumping mom, that will RUIN your day so fast and you will likely be headed back home or to the store to buy a manual pump anyway. It takes longer, but it is a trusty tool to have on hand in your time of need. My Medela manual pump has been clutch.
- A hands-free bra
- Extra parts. This includes tubing, valves, membranes, and possibly even connectors and flanges if you want to be extra prepared.
- Breastmilk storage bottles/bags with a cooler
- Breast pads. These come in disposable or cloth options.
- Wet dry bag. A bag (like the one linked) allows you to refrigerate your fully assembled pump between pumping sessions to prevent bacteria growth so you are not constantly washing. A ziploc bag works too!
- Quick wipes. These can be cut in half to stretch farther.
- Water & healthy snacks. If you didn’t know, making milk is WORK. This is a great time to replenish and nourish your body.
4. Store your milk properly. Keep in mind…
- The 6-6-6 rule: milk is good for 6 hours at room temperature, 6 days in the refrigerator, and 6 months in the freezer. A deep freezer will allow up to 12 months, but 6 months is still optimal.
- Freeze your bags flat and organize your frozen milk stash in a way that allows you to grab the older milk first. You can repurpose a shoe box or soda box to keep milk organized.
- If your milk has been in the refrigerator for awhile, you will notice that it separates into layers. The fatty layer sits on top and needs to be shaken before poured.
- Milk that has been thawed or warmed, should not be refrozen. Try to use it within that 6 hour window that it can be kept at room temperature.
5. Maximize your supply.
- Look at pictures and videos of your baby while you pump. This can aid in stimulating a letdown.
- Massage your breasts before, during, and after pumping.
- Don’t skip pumping sessions! If you are not “demanding” milk, you are telling your body to make less.
- Flanges come in different sizes and having the wrong size flanges can affect your pumping output. These flanges come highly recommended!
- If your supply seems to suddenly take a dip, trying changing out your pump parts and testing the suction of your pump. Often times, it’s not you!
- Play around with your pumping schedule to find when you get the most milk. Production is highest in the morning so you definitely want to take advantage of that.
I hope that these hacks help you cut down on some of the time and effort that goes into pumping. You are doing a wonderful thing for your baby, so keep up the good work mama!