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    Parents guide

    Home ›› 10 Things Every Pumping Mom Should Know
    Home ›› 10 Things Every Pumping Mom Should Know
    Doula Mandy headshot

    10 Things Every Pumping Mom Should Know

     

    10 min. read

     

    One of the most powerful moments of my pumping journey happened 10 months postpartum. I (reluctantly) had to fly across the country to an expo for work. Three days, 80,000 square feet of space to walk, hordes of people, and one heavy ol’ pump I had to lug everywhere. Ugh.

     

    It was my first time pumping-on-the-go, and I was relieved to hear there was a pump room…until I opened the door to find it was one big, open space of a room. No partitions, no privacy. I walked in on a mom pumping and squawked, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” as I hurriedly tried to close the door, but she countered just as quickly, “Please, come in!”

     

    I felt strange, but sat down, plugged in and pumped—my breasts were epically tight and tingly. I couldn’t wait. And then something magical happened. One by one more pumping mamas came in. As our numbers grew, the normalcy of what we were doing did as well. Everyone sat down, chest out, pumps whirring away. The best part? We naturally started sharing our struggles, pumping hacks and travel stories as new moms. I was floored. I finished my pump in 20 minutes but stayed for 40. Not only did I learn a thing or two, but I felt seen and supported in how hard it was to juggle all of this.

     

    Motherhood is no joke. We need each other to get through it. There’s so much wisdom (and good laughs!) when #MomsGetReal and we share our truths and tips on how to make things work. It’s what I love most about being a postpartum doula: Sharing my experience and evidence-based insight, hearing what you’re going through, and tackling all of this new mom stuff together. Whether in-person or online, the saying is true: it takes a village!

     

    Now, let’s demystify that pump of yours and get you set up for success.

    Debunking breast pumping myths:


    All pumps are the same.

    Nope! Pumps are very different. It should be the right fit for YOUR body and YOUR lifestyle. When picking a pump think about your needs and ask yourself:
     

    • Where will I pump most?
    • Is it comfortable?
    • Is it easy to use?
    • Is it quiet enough? (A big one if you’ll be pumping on calls or during virtual meetings.)
    • Is it light enough? (Especially if you commute or travel for work.)
    • Is it powerful enough to remove milk effectively? (Some hands-free models go light on suction.)
       

    If I had a time machine, I’d go back and have the Philips Avent Double Electric Breast Pump, Advanced. Here’s why: It’s light, portable (with a belt and rechargeable battery pack), quiet, and the suction is seriously on-point with Natural Motion tech to mimic baby’s suckling pattern. I struggled with supply and having a customizable set of suction and stimulation settings would have been hugely helpful. As you consider your options, talk with other mamas and read reviews, but always keep in mind how their situation is the same or different from yours.

    You only need one pump.

    While the Philips Avent Double Electric Breast Pump, Advanced, is magic, I’m going to recommend you also stock up on a manual pump as well. Why? Because a manual pump (aka non-electric) is super useful for traveling, when there’s a power outage, if you forget to charge your Philips Avent Double Electric Breast Pump, Advanced, or Baby didn’t have a full feeding. It’s also useful if your breasts are a bit engorged or if you have an overactive letdown and need to express a tiny bit of milk in order to successfully get Baby on the breast.

    Pumping is painful.

    Pumping, like breastfeeding should not be painful. First, make sure your pump flange is sized correctly. With the Philips Avent Double Electric Breast Pump, Advanced, the soft silicone flanges flex and gently adapt to various nipple shapes and sizes up to 30mm (measuring top-to-bottom of the nipple). If you have a traditional pump with plastic flanges, your pump will come with a set flange size, usually 22mm or 24mm. Flanges range from 17mm to 36mm, and you can purchase them separately. You want to make sure that your nipple is not squished or squeezed too hard against the flange tube, which can cause chaffing and tearing. Also be sure to care for your nipples: moisturize with a bit of olive oil and air-dry after each pump, and wear breast pads to keep nipples dry. Still feeling pain? Consider a session with a lactation pro.

    Large breasts make more milk.

    W-r-o-n-g! The size of your breasts does not dictate how much milk you’ll make. It’s all about what’s inside: your mammary glands, the alveoli housed inside of them, and the hormone prolactin, which basically says “Go!” and gets your little milk-making engines (the alveoli) to fire up and press on the gas. Whatever your breast size, maximize your output through consistent feedings/pump sessions, eating well and staying hydrated—you’ll need about four extra 8-ounce servings of water a day.

    Oreos and beer help you produce more milk.

    I hate to burst this bubble, but sigh, gotta do it. Oreos and beer are beloved on social media threads for supposed milk-boosting benefits. Unfortunately, there’s no science to back this up. Well, mostly. Beer in and of itself does not promote milk supply. However, some studies have shown that anxious new mothers did feel calmer after having one beer* and that could be the reason for slightly increased milk output. For Oreos, it’s likely the calorie density that fuels any milk benefits—a pumping or nursing mama needs around 500 calories more a day versus during pregnancy, when you need approximately 250 additional calories a day.

    *Not drinking alcohol is the safest option for breastfeeding mothers. However, according to the CDC, “up to 1 standard drink per day is not known to be harmful to the infant, especially if the mother waits at least 2 hours after a single drink before nursing.”

    You’ll never believe this:


    Pumping isn’t just a one-person-show.

    Yes, you are the one creating milk and doing the big lift of pumping. However, that’s no reason your partner should sit idle. It’s important for this to be a team effort! Your partner or trusted caregiver can set up your pump and learn how it works, clean and/or sanitize all pump parts and bottles after use, enter feeding information in your journal or app, and package the milk for storage in the fridge or freezer. Plus, don’t forget snack duty!

    All breast milk is not created equally.

    Surprise: Your milk changes daily. You read that right! Your body knows what the sex of your baby is and how old they are and changes accordingly. Incredible, right? The composition of your milk changes throughout the day and even within each pump session. That’s why it’s important to pump a full session, because you have what’s called foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is what comes first when you start pumping or nursing. It’s like a salad course. Hindmilk comes second, and it’s like the dessert course. Together, foremilk and hindmilk give your little one everything they need for hydration and nutrition.

    Set aside time on your calendar to pump.

    Consistency is everything. Pump in regular intervals each day, preferably at the same time each day. Set an alarm and, if working on-the-clock, block out those pump sessions as a meeting on your calendar. Otherwise, it’s too easy to let the day get the best of you and you run the risk of engorgement in the short-term and a decreasing supply long-term. Remember: milk out equals milk in.

    Stress can reduce your milk supply.

    This one is true. But here’s the thing: You can’t magically not stress. And telling yourself “don’t stress” is only going to make you more stressed. You’ve got to trick your body. Here are a few ways to do that: Cover your pump bottles with baby socks so you can’t peek (this one is key!). Set a timer, about 15 minutes. Watch TV, read or listen to music until the timer dings. Look at a picture of your baby or, if the baby is nearby, look at them. It will help your milk flow!

    Orgasms may happen!

    Are you blushing? I know. This one is delicate—and may be true for you. I’ll say this: the transition from a sexual body to one that serves a function and makes food is funky. It can be confusing—for you and your partner—and it takes time to figure out your flow in this new duality. Nipples have tons of sensory nerves and are an erogenous zone, so even if you’re 100% focused on utility and bonding with the baby, sometimes your body just does its thing. No shame about it. Blame biology.
    Mandy Major aka Doula Mandy, MA, PCD(DONA), is the founder of Major Care and creator of My Fourth, the first-ever app devoted to mothers and birth parents in the fourth trimester. You can follow her @doulamandy. This post is part of a paid partnership with Philips Avent.

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