We are all so unique, and different ideas work for different people. That’s why we’ve put together so many tips for you! Give the ones that feel okay a try and discard what doesn’t work for your family.
Pumping, like breastfeeding, is equal parts relational, mental, and physical. It is a relationship that must be mutually beneficial and desirable for all involved. It is a mindset, a way of life that the pumping mom chooses to adopt. And pumping has many physical elements that must all work in concert to be successful.
Things to keep in mind as you being pumping:
Speaking of pumping goals, let’s define those now.
Complete these statements to get an idea of why expressing breastmilk for your baby is important to you. As you read the recommendations outlined in this article, keep your big picture in mind.
Pumping milk can seem overwhelming at first, simply because of all the extras that are needed! Let’s break down the gear you’ll need (expand to view each).
As with most breastfeeding choices, your goals will largely impact what you need in a breast pump. If you plan to only offer your baby expressed milk occasionally, a simple electric or manual pump should suffice. If you will need to pump frequently or exclusively, it will be worth the investment to use a higher power electric pump or even rent a hospital grade pump. (Particularly if your baby is in the NICU or has frequent hospital stays, ask your facility about a breast pump rental.)
A tip from personal experience, it might be a good idea to wait until baby arrives and breastfeeding has begun before purchasing a pump. You may plan to pump only occasionally, but early hiccups in establishing breastfeeding might mean you pump more frequently for a while. This happened to me. I bought a simple single electric pump, but ended up purchasing a more top of the line double pump when I began needing to pump several times per day. Personally, I use a Medela Freestyle. I’ve also heard Ameda’s double pumps come highly recommended. Many breastfeeding professionals recommend Spectra pump models.
Taking your goals into consideration, these are a few questions you can ask about the features of your breast pump:
Canadian Mamas: Check with your insurance provider, some offer coverage of breast pumps.
US Mamas: “The Affordable Care Act requires most health insurance plans to cover the cost of a breast pump as part of women’s preventative health services.” Visit HHS.gov for more information.
Nipple cream can be a total lifesaver for a nursing mom! It’s common for nipples to feel a bit sore after nursing, especially for first time moms. A good nipple cream can provide needed relief and protection. Creams can also be useful to soften the breast tissue and nipple, making it easier for your baby to latch. Apply after each feeding -- and don’t worry, it’s safe for baby.
If you are having excessive nipple pain or damage, seek help! Many nursing moms are told the unfortunate myth that breastfeeding is supposed to be painful. While soreness is common, it is not necessarily good! If you are experiencing sore, cracked, or bleeding nipples, you may consider using cream for immediate relief, but schedule an appointment with a breastfeeding professional to check for issues.
Nipple cream can also be helpful for pumping. I would put a bit of nipple cream inside of the flanges before I pumped, which made it much more comfortable!
A few nipple cream brands I recommend are:
Today’s mamas are a busy bunch! A hands free pumping bra can be a useful tool for pumping moms. The option for hands free pumping is enticing to many moms, and makes expressing milk even more accessible. As we’ll discuss later in this guide, a hands free bra also allows you to easily do ‘hands on pumping’, which can boost output.
For the Pinterest-savvy mama, you can make a DIY hands free pumping bra. This was my choice. I put on an old bra, and drew dots with a Sharpie on the bra where my nipples were. Then, I cut little slits for the flanges. (For those interested, KellyMom has a DIY hands-free pumping bra tutorial on her website.)
If you want to purchase a pumping bra, a few options are:
Many pumps these days include a custom-fitted carry bag, but you can also purchase your own bag, or designate a bag you already own to do the job.
These pump bags are stylish, convenient options:
Or you may choose to purchase a pump with a custom, included bag.
While you can easily store expressed milk in bottles, many moms use plastic bags for freezing and easier longer storage.
If you’re pumping to donate breast milk, you will need to thoroughly detail the contents (name, date, ounces) and possibly include donor identification information.
Popular milk storage bag options include:
Properly sanitizing your pump, milk collection containers, and bottles is important! Not only will proper sanitation protect your milk and your baby from contaminants, it will extend the life of your pump and accessories.
Here are cleaning tools I regularly use:
Use the directions provided in your individual pump to maintain it for optimal use. But these tips from my experience will useful, regardless of your pump style!
Protecting the health of your baby by practicing good breast pump hygiene is paramount. When considering whether or not to use used pump parts, weigh the benefits and risks. Full disclosure should be given, and the used pump in question thoroughly researched, so moms can make an informed decision.
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Disclaimer: I am not a lactation consultant or medical professional. The wisdom and advice shared in this post is mama to mama, not provider to client. You assume all responsibility and risk when implementing any of these suggestions. Additionally, I have no affiliate relationships with any brands mentioned. I am not receiving any compensation for my recommendations. The products and resources listed are simply ones I found useful in my breastfeeding journey.