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IV-A. Advice on how to pump successfully


This article is from the Breast Pumps FAQ, by bweiss@cs.arizona.edu (Beth Weiss) with numerous contributions by others.

IV-A. Advice on how to pump successfully

The two most frequently mentioned elements for successful pumping

* Using a rented professional pump such as a Medela.
* Finding a comfortable location for pumping (NOT the restroom).

The most common pumping frequency was twice during the workday. In
several cases, the frequency varied during the pumping months. Also,
some mothers were able to nurse once during the workday, and some were
working half-days.

Of the 16 responses I collected:

- 11 mentioned using a rented Medela pump
- 11 pumped twice at work for most of the time
- 8 mentioned the importance of a good location
- 6 mentioned that they pumped at home too
- 5 mentioned supplementing with formula
- 5 said they never supplemented
- 4 pumped 3 times at work, at least at first
- 3 wrote that double-pumping was very useful in
keeping supply up and pumping time down
- 2 pumped once a day at work

To avoid making this *too* long, I'll list a few examples of the
advice and experiences:
"More important, I think, is to have a private room where you can use
a rental pump."

"It's important to have a private and relatively comfortable place to
pump at work and to figure out when the best time of day is for your
milk supply."

"My biggest recommendation is to find a comfortable place to pump."

"To make pumping easier I rent a Medela Lactina pump and keep it in my
office during the week and take it home over the weekend. At home I
have a small Medela pump which runs on either AC or batteries. The
small pump cost about $80.00 and was worth every penny. It included
most of the parts I needed for the rental pump."

"The best thing that you can do is to rent a good pump."

"My best advice is to get a good quality pump!"

"I would also recommend buying a double pump attachment.... When I
used a small battery pump, it would take me about 30 minutes to pump
about 4 ounces. And, it would hurt most of the time. With the good
pump (and pumping both breasts at once), I was able to pump 6 ounces
in 10 minutes."

"Double pumping was a lifesaver, though you feel like a cow hooked up
to a milking machine. It would generally only take me 20 minutes to
get to the pumping station, double pump, wash the stuff and get back
to my desk."

"... (generally) breastfed babies don't drink very much expressed milk
while away from their mothers. They prefer to "hold out" as much as
possible and nurse when they get back together with mommy."

"BEFORE you return to work... start expressing some of your milk."

"Expressing AND nursing will increase your milk production."

"IMPERATIVE. Make sure Jr. takes the bottle (of expressed milk, of
course) BEFORE you go to work."

"If you are breastfeeding YOU ARE STILL EATING FOR 2. DO NOT start
"dieting"...Drink, drink, drink... and then drink some more!"

"By all means practice with the pump before you head back to the

"Another thing I did to alleviate anxiety was give the sitter a can of
powdered formula to keep an hand for emergencies."

"...the most important advice I can give: STOCKPILE, STOCKPILE,

"Definitely follow the suggestion of one of the previous replies and
bring extra pads and keep an extra top handy(or use a sweater)."

When I am using a pump, moving the flange from one area to another
helps increase my yield. Also, vary the amount of pressure placed on
the flange, from light to pressed strongly against your chest wall.
If you are single pumping, try using your other hand to curl your
fingers around the outside edge of your breast and press inward to see
if you can increase the flow.

In my opinion, the issue of supplementing should be looked at in
a broader perspective that incorporates other portions of your life. I
could have got enough milk to avoid supplementation by pumping in the
evenings and on weekends. However, that would cut down on my sleep, time
with my kids, and time to do other urgent tasks, and I didn't deem it
worthwhile. Some women can produce vast amounts of milk with little
apparent effort, and for them, avoiding supplementation takes almost
nothing extra. However, for anyone that is struggling unhappily to get
enough to cover their infant's needs, I'd suggest stepping back and
taking a look at *all* your goals and priorities, and deciding if it
really matters. If it does, there are lots of things you can try to
increase your supply, the efficiency of your pumping, and the arrangement
of your baby's feedings. If it doesn't matter, get what you can
comfortably get in the time you have available, and use formula
sparingly to fill in the difference.

Women differ a lot, and it is important that first time pumpers know
it. I've got a friend that can hand express 8oz in 10 minutes every 2
or 3 hours. On the other hand, I've never got 8oz in a single
session, regardless of the method used, and I've got friends that get
even less than I do. Don't compare yourself, but if you can, do try
different methods/ techniques to see if you can get more.

Pumping takes practice, patience, and persistance. Try not to get
discouraged, don't compare amounts with other women, and constantly
look for new techniques. I tried lots of different pumps, timings for
pumping, and methods. For example, my current pump can double or
single pump, and I am pretty good at manually expressing. I try
different combinations of each, both at the same pumping "session",
and at separate sessions. On average, I usually double pump for about
10-12 minutes, then switch to single pumping when I'm not getting much
anymore. Single pumping allows me to massage with the other hand
which allows me to get more. On times when I haven't had a good let
down (and there are a lot of those times...) I might then do some
manual expression at the end, as I find it is the most effective in
getting the milk out. I've also tried single pumping first, or double
then single then back to double, or alternating a manual expressed
"session" with a pump session, etc. Different things work different
times, and I'm always finding new little tricks.


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