Most mothers nowadays needs to go back to work after the baby is born, unfortunately, so the only way to continue giving mama’s milk to the baby is by pumping. It takes some getting used to. The fact that you can see how much you are getting makes it stressful for most of us. To ease your anxiety at the pump a bit, the following are a collection of pumping rules and tips I find helpful.
1. Have your baby close. Not literally, but looking at his/her pictures or videos on the phone will help trick your brain to do better with the pump. (This is the number one tip I have found everywhere.)

2. Relax & ignore the pump. Do not stress about how much you are pumping. The more you think about it, the less you are going to get.

3. Keep a nutritious snack nearby. Once you are done pumping and have to go back to work, I bet that you will get too busy and have no time to snack and get in a few extra calories. Even eating a granola bar is better than nothing. Making milk takes energy (aka calories).

4. Keep drinking water. Similar to the last tip, do not forget to drink some water before and during pumping. When pumping and working you will need to drink at least 80 oz. of water per day.

5. Stay warm. I find this essential for me. When I feel cold, I can barely get enough during one pumping session, but then time is up! This is probably related to Tip #2 to stay relaxed.

6. Massage them. Before and during pumping session to help stimulate milk flow. When I was still at the hospital those first days, the LC recommended me to pump 7 to 8 minutes, stop the machine, massage and shake the girls some, then continue to pump 7 to 8 minutes more (so still a total of about 15 minutes).

7. Pump 2 to 5 minutes past the “last drop”. Your body will get the signal to produce more milk this way. In general, pump at least 15 minutes.

8. Finish with a little hand expression. This will ensure that you empty your breasts as completely as possible. The better they are emptied, the faster they will refill. Hand express around the areola because the flanges are not perfect at getting those final drops out. Some mamas said they have collected an extra ounce from doing this!

9. Extra pump before bed. I find this helpful especially if your baby is sleeping longer stretches. (Aren’t you glad I am not suggesting to get up in the middle of the night to pump?)

10. Power pump if you have time. Pump 15 minutes, rest for 10, pump for 10, rest for 10 and pump for 10 again. This takes an hour and is considered one pumping session. Do not worry about how much you get at the second and third 10-minute pumps. This is just to simulate cluster feeding to “trick” your body into thinking that baby needs more milk. (Do this if your supply is low and only if you really need to. It is supposed to help increase supply, but I feel that this also strains the body because you are trying to make extra milk.)

Pump

Pack for streamlined pumping:
To make the most of my pump break, I have found that having these essential items in my pump bag helps me save time.

1. Container for storage. If you are pumping more than once during the work day like me, putting the parts in a tupperware container and then into the office fridge would save a lot of time compared to washing them at work. Just soak and wash everything with soapy water when you get home. (A lot of people suggest ziplock bags, but I think it is a waste.)

2. Hands-free bra. So you can play on your phone or computer, knit or perform any other relaxing activity for those 15 minutes.

3. Nursing cover. If you do not have the luxury of a private single room.

4. Bottles & ice pack. I generally bring one extra bottle than the number of times I need to pump. The ice pack will help keep your bottles cold on your way home.

5. Milk storage bags. Just in case you have extra milk (yay!) but do not have enough bottles.

6. Hand-pumping accessory. Just in case there is no power. Alternatively, you can simply learn to hand express into the bottles. (Or have the battery pack ready…)

7. Wipes. To wipe down parts before you put them away. Pacifier wipes are much cheaper than the Medela one, and some moms said it works the same. This is a personal choice. If you do not want to spend the money, you can skip it. Or just bring a CLEAN cloth to quickly wipe the parts before storing.

8. Extra pump parts. This might be a good investment, but totally optional.

I hope these are helpful to you. I am always trying to learn new tricks to improve my pumping experience, so if you have any good tips, please share!

{ Need help on nursing? See My Breastfeeding Tips post. }