8 Breast Pumping Techniques to Maximize Milk Output
Using the correct technique while breast pumping can make all the difference in milk output. Here are 8 techniques to master to get the most out of your breast pump.
1. Correctly position the nipple in the flange
Before you begin pumping, it’s important to properly place your nipple into the
flange. Just placing the flange over the breast and pumping isn’t effective. You’ll need to grab your breast and stick the nipple
into the tunnel of the flange, ensuring that there’s an airtight seal before you begin pumping. Signs of an improperly placed flange include milk leaking from the flange, nipples not being drawn down the flange while pumping, and air pockets between the shield and breast when the nipple retracts with the pumping cycle.
2. Choose the correct settings on your breast pump
It’s important to spend some time playing around with the settings on your breast pump to select the most effective settings for you. If you’re just starting out, a good place to start is massage mode on a low level, and then once your milk starts flowing try swapping your pump to expression mode. You can try gradually increasing the suction strength, too. This is something that should be revisited
continually as your optimum settings may change over the course of your breastfeeding journey as your baby gets older. Remember to never pump above your comfort level and that pumping should not be painful. If you need direction on where to start with pump settings, reach out to our expert customer support team of pumping mamas!
3. Use the correct sized flange while pumping
Using the correct sized breastshield while pumping is something you can’t compromise on. An incorrect sized shield can cut off milk flow, negatively impacting your milk supply and causing plugged ducts. If you’re experiencing pain or pulling while pumping, it’s a good sign you’re not using the correct flange size. Read our guide for how to select the correct sized flange...
4. Always lean forward while pumping
It’s important to lean slightly forward while pumping. If you don’t, your pump will have to work quite a bit harder to draw milk from your breast, and you may not be emptying your breast properly. Place a pillow behind you to help you comfortably lean forward and use gravity to help empty your breasts.
5. Always pump until empty; ignore the clock
Pumping times are a myth. You’re most likely pumping to stimulate supply or to relieve an oversupply because your baby isn’t drinking enough of what you make. Either way you will want to empty your breasts completely. It’s important to pump until your milk stops flowing (or flow slows to a small dribble every minute or so) because not doing so can cause plugged ducts and mastitis. Watching the
clock can prevent you from pumping until empty. Pump until your milk stops flowing, and then an additional 5 minutes longer; don’t pump until a certain amount of time has elapsed. After a while you’ll get the hang of things and notice about how long it takes to empty your breasts, and you’ll be able to plan time for your pumping sessions in advanced. If you’re having an oversupply, it should
regulate as your baby gets older by about 4 months, too.
6. Always massage and compress the breasts while pumping
Even if you’re hands-free pumping, it’s important to massage and compress your breasts while pumping (choose a hands-free pumping bra that is soft enough to allow you to cup your breasts). To compress your breasts, form a C shape with your thumb and index finger around your areola; apply gentle pressure. To massage your breasts, apply gentle pressure with your index and middle
finger in small circular motions working down toward the areola. Do this on the top, bottom, inside and outside of your breasts to get all the milk ducts. Don’t massage your areola or too close the flange as that can break the air seal. Remember to massage in your armpit areas too.
7. Make sure your pumping kit is assembled correctly
Make sure your pumping kit is assembled correctly and completely dry prior to assembly. If there’s any moisture in your pump kit it will impact the suction, and you’ll likely hear a ‘squishing’ sound while pumping.
8. Make sure you’re replacing your parts regularly
It’s important to replace your breast pump parts regularly for many reasons. It’s especially important to replace valves and backflow protectors regularly, as these silicone parts will wear down over time and lose elasticity. This impacts suction and means the pump motor has to work harder, and loss of suction will also negatively impact your milk supply. Read our guide on replacing pump parts to find out which parts need to be replaced and how often...