If you’re breastfeeding, you also likely have a breast pump. Just as there is a method to breastfeeding, there is also a method of pumping. I am by no means an expert, but I’ve had a lot of issues while breastfeeding and pumping and I’m finally feeling super confident with what I’m doing. I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks along the way that has made my #pumpinglife a lot better.
If you’re having issues with breastfeeding or pumping you should always consult with a trained lactation consultant or doctor. A quick google search of “lactation consultants near me” will help you determine your closest and most affordable options in your area. You can also check out the following helpful websites:
La Leche League Canada
You’re not going to get a full bottle the first time, (or possibly ever)! Your body needs to adjust to the feeling of a machine. If you’re coming off of direct breastfeeding, it’s going to take some time for your body to get accustomed to the machine before you see good results. If you’re only a few weeks in, and you’re still building your supply, you also need to be patient. This is why you need to be strict with your pumping schedule. For the first ten weeks, you need to be pumping every two hours for 25-ish minutes. Day AND night. Don’t go more than 3 hours max without pumping. Once those ten weeks are done, you can start going a little longer, but still never more than 4 hours.
If you’re looking to increase your supply while still breastfeeding, pumping for ten minutes after your baby finishes feeding will also help. If you want to increase your supply while EBPing you should power pump (pump 20 min, rest 10, pump 10, rest 10, pump 10). You can also increase your supply with food, herbs, and supplements like blessed thistle, Fenugreek, oatmeal, papaya, flaxseed, and brewers yeast.
Follow a Method
In order to get a good pump, and get your max output, there are a few things you’ll want to do.
- The first is you need to be relaxed. Stress causes our body to tense up. Set the mood with some relaxing music, light a candle, setup Netflix or a book. I know this is easier said than done, but try to pump when you are more relaxed than not.
- Second, you want to feel warm. Warmth allows your ducts to expand, allowing the milk to travel easier. Use a warm compress (I use earth mama angel baby boobie tubes), drink a hot drink, wrap yourself in a blanket.
- Third, Lube it up! Make sure your flange is slippery before you put your beautiful nipple inside that machine! There’s nothing worse than your body rubbing up against plastic 50 times a minute. Remember to use something natural that your baby can ingest. I use coconut oil.
- Massage your breasts. If you can, do this before pumping and hand express a little bit. Continue massaging your breast while pumping. Don’t forget to massage starting from under your armpits, the tops of your breast down and underneath as well.
- If your machine has a letdown button, use it every ten minutes or so. This triggers your breasts to release the next batch that it has been making while you’ve been pumping. This can take you from 50ml to 100ml, etc.
Dealing With Blocked Ducts
In the first few weeks that I started pumping, I was dealing with blocked ducts 2-3 times per week. If you’ve already experienced this, you know how frustrating and painful this can be. I’ve literally spent 5-10 hours on some days trying to work out a blockage, so if you can avoid them, to begin with, all the better.
- Warm compress. If you’ve just discovered the block, put a warm compress on it and start pumping. This can sometimes get it clear super quick and prevent a larger issue.
- Cold compress. If you’ve had the blockage for a while, your ducts are likely inflamed and you’re feeling the pain. A cold compress will help to relax your ducts and allow the milk to pass.
- Massage your breast and the blockage. This HURTS, but you need to move the milk out. You can try using some vibration to stimulate the blocked milk to move.
- Take a hot Shower. This can help your body relax and the milk flow again. While in the shower, massage your breast.
- Pump the day away. You need to get the milk flowing, so pump as often as you can.
- Sometimes the blockage is at the entrance! You may actually have a blocked nipple pore (a blebp). If you look at your nipple and there is a white dot that you cannot wipe off, this is likely what it is. Try massaging the nipple tip and wiping at it to get it out. For my worst blepbs I’ve used a sterilized needle to gently coax the blebp out of the pore. When you get it out your bound to have a shooting stream of milk, so be ready.
- Use a Vinegar dilution wash to remove any surface buildup.
Preventing Blocked Ducts
Because I deal with these so frequently, I’m passionate about avoiding them. Below are some things I’ve found useful in preventing blocked ducts.
- Don’t wear tight bras. If you can let the girls hang out on their own, do it. Otherwise, a loose, but a supportive bra is crucial. Avoid the bras that have a wrap around your boob, especially at night when you may be going longer without pumping.
- Empty your breasts as much as possible. You want to ensure you’ve pulled out as much milk as possible. When you start to see a very slow trickle, you know you’re pretty much empty. You will likely never see a complete cessation as your constantly making milk.
- Massage while pumping. This will help to loosen any milk that may be getting stuck.
- Vinegar wash. Every once in a while you can dip your nips in a vinegar dilution. This helps to break down any calcium (and fungal) buildup on your nipple. This helps with nipple pore blockage as well.
- If you have recurring blocked ducts, you can take lecithin supplements. This is a compound found in many food products that help milk and other substances from bunching up. This won’t affect your supply or your baby but consult with a medical professional before starting to make sure there are no other considerations you need to think about.