Hi, I’m Alissa Pemberton. I’m a lactation consultant and holistic sleep coach. I’m going to share with you some of the common issues that I come across around breastfeeding and my top tips to help.
For many mums, pumping can feel like a bit of an arduous task. And it’s not nearly as pleasant as feeding your baby, but it can be a really successful way of removing milk, if you need to feed your baby by another route, it can also help you to increase your milk supply. And for any times when for whatever reason, your baby can’t feed directly from the breast.
If you go about pumping in the right way, you’ll find that it’s much more successful for you and a much easier and more pleasant process.
So my first tip when you’re pumping would be to try alternating which breasts you pump on. My first tip for when you’re pumping is to make sure that the flange that you’re using fits you correctly. So the flange on your breast pump is this part here that actually goes onto your breast. They come in different sizes, which refers to the diameter of this tunnel here.
If this doesn’t fit you correctly, you’ll find that either your nipple is rubbing against the edge of the tunnel or that it’s drawing a lot of your areola in breast tissue into the pump. And if it doesn’t fit correctly, your pump won’t be as efficient. So it’s always worth having a look at that, measuring to see if you need a different size and making sure that that fits correctly before you start pumping.
My second tip would be to make sure that your valves are intact. So this is the valve here. They look a little bit different in different pumps, but this is what we call a duck bill valve. These are made from quite a thin rubber, and if they get any little cracks in them or if they get bent so that they’re not closing properly, you’ll find that the suction in your pump won’t be as strong and it won’t work as effectively. So it’s worth checking those and changing those out every three to six months depending on how frequently you’re pumping.
When you sit down to pump, it will make a big difference how comfortable and relaxed you feel. So in order for us to have a letdown for that milk to start flowing, we need an oxytocin release. Oxytocin is that love hormone. And it’s the same hormone that’s released in labor that causes contractions in your uterus. And it also causes contractions around the milk ducts in your breast to physically push that milk out.
So if you’re feeling stressed and agitated, if you’re sitting, pumping and staring at every tiny little drop that comes out, you might find that it’s not quite as successful. So when you sit down to pump, get yourself comfortable, get a drink, pop something funny on TV. Some mums even find it helpful to pop a sock over the bottle. So you can’t see what’s coming out, just pop it on and forget about it.
My next tip would be to do some breast compression while you’re pumping. So this allows us to massage and compress the breast to help make sure that all those ducts are being drained and it will make a big difference to how much milk you can get out. You can do this by using your hand in a C shape around the widest part of your breast. And while you’re pumping, you can press firmly hold for 5 or 10 seconds and then release and repeat and sit there and do that process throughout the time that you’re pumping. As you go along, you can adjust the angle of your hand so that we’re compressing over different milk ducts.
My next tip would be when you’re pumping to try doing what’s called a power pump. So a power pump is where we mimic your baby cluster feeding. You can do this with a double pump and do both breasts at once, or you can do one at a time. And all we do here is that we start expressing on one side, do this for 5 or 10 minutes, or until you see that you’re not getting much milk flowing anymore, and then switch to the other side and repeat the same 5 to 10 minutes on the other side, and then switch back to the first again. You can switch sides as many times as you need to, but usually we do each side two or three times.
This gives each breast a little bit of a break in between. So it allows your breast to start to refill and to your body it mimics what your baby does when they’re cluster feeding, which is really helpful if you’re trying to pump to increase your milk supply.