How come no one tells you how freaking hard it is to pump!
It’s not the actually act of pumping. That’s easy: you just plug it in, attach the suction cup to your breast, and turn it on.
The hard part is when nothing comes out 5, 10, 20 minutes later. Or when just 1-2 ounces comes out and you need 8 ounces for the babysitter or daddy.
Or even when you get the perfect amount of milk pumped, and now you feel exhausted and weak. Pumping DOES NOT feel the same as breastfeeding. I’m not sure what God created in the breastfeeding process that’s missing from the pumping process. But it feels so mechanical and does not feel nourishing to the body at all. It leaves me feeling so depleted, thirsty, and worn out.
There’s more fun parts too. Engorgement. Low milk supply. Soreness.
The only reason I continue with the process is because I know breast milk will positively impact my daughter’s health for the rest of her life. So a year of inconvenience for me is worth the increased nourishment to Skye’s cells, better brain development, healthy organs, and beautiful soft skin.
So if you’re struggling with pumping, here are some things I’ve learned that will help.
5 Tips for Better Pumping
1. Lower the Speed of the Pump
I have a Ameda Purely Yours pump that I love. (as much as you can love a pump — lol!) Sometimes, when nothing is coming out, I lower the speed of the pump and this helps tremendously. It seems counter-intuitive, but it works. Although the speed is lower, I get more ounces of milk out in one session.
2. Drink Water — Lots of Water
When the milk is slow in coming out, drink — no, gulp as much water as you possibly can. Don’t hurt yourself (use your own intuition), but the more I drink while I’m pumping, the more milk comes out. It’s an amazingly simple technique, but it works and works very quickly. When I’m dehydrated, even if just a little bit, pumping becomes more and more of a chore. Hydration is so vital to breastfeeding, whether you’re BF directly or pumping.
Make sure you are relaxed. Stress tightens you up. Relaxation opens you up, and allows milk to flow through you more easily. It may sound strange, but light some candles or incense. Play soft music like jazz, new age, or something slow and relaxing. Turn the lights down and turn the television off. Take some deeps breaths while pumping and picture a waterfall. Allow your body to relax and you’ll notice an increase in milk production. I got double the amount of milk I usually get when I tried these techniques. My mom is the one who informed me that the more relaxed I was, the more milk I could pump. Give it a try!
4. Take Herbs
Fenugreek and Red Raspberry Leaf are known to increase milk supply, and they really work! If I take these herbs in the morning, by the evening I notice an increase of milk when I pump. They come in tea and pill form. Now, I try to take these herbs everyday to constantly up my milk production.
5. Pump in the Morning
If I pump in the morning, I get a lot more milk faster than when I pump any other time during the day. Pay attention to how much milk you’re pumping throughout the day. Then, pump during the time when your supply is high. This is a simple, but powerful tip. It can save you a lot of time and frustration when you learn to just go with the flow of your body.
It’s funny how we’ll push through discomfort in order to achieve things like getting a degree, to make money, lose weight, achieve career goals, or whatever you want to be successful at. But when it comes to our kids, there’s a new trend that says parents should always be comfortable. Well, I’m sorry to break it to you but having children is not about being comfortable in every moment. If you’re lucky, you’ll be stretched and evolved beyond your limits.
I want to achieve total health, well-being, and wholeness for my children, and this is a part of it. This includes sore nipples, getting bit, and feeling a little tired. Ah well. It’s all a part of being a mom!