Breast Pumping Tips

Friday, April 13, 2012

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There really isn’t much information available for those who are expressing breast milk (pumping) but not breastfeeding, the situation we have found ourselves in (more about that here). What follows are some tips from my experience with pumping…

1. Supplies
After borrowing the hospital Ameda double pump, I purchased the Madela freestyle double electric pump. The double pump saves you so much time. This pump is tiny & has a battery pack making it quite portable, easy for moving upstairs or down. It has a hands free options, but I’m yet to use that feature. Buy extra bottles, teets and if you can buy another set of the pump suction things as this will drastically reduce the amount of washing up you have to do. I developed a sore on my finger that the doctor said they used to call 'washer woman's fingers'. If you can reduce the washing up to twice a day with extra bottles etc., washer woman's fingers will not be your problem. Since purchasing extra supplies the sore on my finger has cleared up & not returned. 

2. How long?
In the beginning I pumped every three hours for 15 mins or more (no more than 20), and I found it great to have a bit of alone time, but after over a month of pumping I cut back to pumping every 4, 5 or even 6 hours depending on what we’re doing. It doesn’t seem to make a difference to the amount that I get. It did however, mess with the prolactin levels in my body, causing me to be more cranky and emotional than normal (a bit like pms) with an overwhelming sense that I couldn't cope with it all. Since discovering that differing session lengths and times caused the pms type symptoms, I have regulated the sessions, pumping around 1/2am, 6/7am, 1pm, 5pm and 9pm for 15 mins each time. I've been fine ever since. Advice about depression associated with weaning can be found on Kellymom. Kellymom also has advice on how to wean from pumping, it can be found here.

3. How to occupy yourself
I’ve found that Boston Legal is the best TV show to watch while pumping. It’s so fast paced that the time just flies. The best podcast is Triple J Like a Version. Like a version is a segment on Australia’s youth radio station. The segment is in two parts, a band comes in and plays an original song and then plays a cover. The time just flys. Also TOFOP is great for a good belly laugh & Real Time with Bill Maher podcast is great if you want to feel slightly intellectual.

4. Lumps?
I have experienced what I’d call mild mastitis. This is when the breast is painful, red, swollen & you can feel hard lumps under the skin. Each time it happens I swear I’m going to give up. But then it goes away & everything returns to this new ‘normal’. It doesn’t go away on it’s own and I have found the best solution to be getting Lulu to try & feed on that boob. Her attempts at sucking seem to work it’s magic & even if I can’t pump straight away, it will drain properly the next time I pump. Prior to working this out I tried massage, warm showers & an Epsom salt compress. All helped it drain eventually. The Victorian Government have a great site called Better Health. Better Health has a few tips for prevention, as well as treatment. They say to wear avoid tight fitting bras. Wear loose clothing. Feed frequently. Avoid prolonged use of nipple pads. To this I’d add drink lots of water.

5. Increasing supply?
This also leads me to how to increase milk. Once again putting Lulu on the boob for a little bit every few days, though she doesn’t really feed, keeps the supply up. Drinking lots of water helps. I’m also having rolled oats in my cereal, and beer with plenty of hops every few days. These have all kept up a steady supply, pumping roughly 80 to 100ml each time.


  1. Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. Breast-feeding has been really challenging and I feel like we are FINALLY getting the hang of it around here. In the beginning I was pumping after every breast feeding to help increase my supply and I thought I was going to go crazy because all I did was feed then pump, feed then pump, and then wash all the damn supplies. I've now given up on the pumping after feeding but will resume it next week when we start to introduce bottles into this little chick's life.

    And, as far as supply goes, I've had success with Fenugreek capsules and MotherLove More Milk Plus ( The reviews were promising so I decided to try them out. Who knows if it works. But it must be as my baby is growing and gaining weight!

  2. Great post Ali!
    Breast feeding/pumping can be such a trying time! I breast fed, but did have to pump at least once or twice a day in the first few months, Layla fed well but didnt always drain each side. I had heard horror stories about mastitis, so was always on the watch for any sign of it. I found that I would get the odd day where a would feel pain, swollen with small lumps and a slight red area. I found that warm showers, hand expressing and always offering that side first for a feed would see the symptoms disapper in a day or two. I think I tried the cabbage leaf once, but was not a fan! Can also affect your milk supply if used to often I heard? I returned to work when Layla was 10 months, so pumped every day to keep up supply. I was very nervous about this at first but found that I could pump twice around 10 and 2-3pm for about 15 mins and feel fine. Milk supply never seemed to get affected. Would get more than enough, probly a sign I could have cut it back a bit when I look back! I found that when Layla was down to about 5 feeds in 24 hours, hormones started to kick back in and goa bit crazy! Same I guess when your pumping 5 or so times a day. I used to still pump thru the night to try and ward this off and keep the milk supply in the freezer topped up!

    Drinking a lot of water, having oats and just really tryihng to eat well was all I did, my supply seemed to only dwindle once we started to wean. And I think I timed it just right as had no problems.

    Your doing a great job, keep the posts coming!!

  3. I didn't want to breastfeed, so I pumped for the first 5 months. It was really hard to do, but I'm so glad I did it. I also got a pretty decent freezer store going so when I stopped pumping my son could still have some breastmilk each day.

    My favorite thing to do while pumping was read! I read Gone With the Wind (almost 1000 pages) in about 1.5 weeks!

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