Tips for Making the Most of Your Pumping Session

pumping session tips and tricks

Tips for Making the Most of Your Pumping Session 

There are as many different ways and reasons to pump breast milk as there are breastfeeding women. In truth, every woman uses a breast pump differently: for some, it’s a way to continue breastfeeding from the workplace, or a way to increase milk supply; for others, it enables travel, or helps to build up a stash of breastmilk. The list goes on. 

Whatever your main reasons for pumping (woot!), there are a few tips that can really help you to make the most of every pumping session. We’ve broken down the top advice from moms who pump into three main categories: 

  1. Gear
  2. Pumping
  3. Storage and Usage

Let’s dive right in, shall we? 

1. Gear Up for Pumping

  • Make sure you have a good, working pump — Medical insurance companies are required to provide you with a serviceable breast pump, so check your options. Depending on which devices are available to you, how often you anticipate pumping (i.e., multiple times every day vs. once in a while), and where you plan to pump (home, the office, on-the-go, etc.), you may choose to upgrade your pump through your insurance company or pay out of pocket for a premium device. 

  • Get the right fit — This is so important! Flanges come in only a few sizes, and every woman is different. A breast pump cushion — we love these ones from BeauGen — can not only help make sure you get a great fit with your flange (*especially if you are in between sizes, as many women are), but also make the entire experience waaay more comfortable. The BeauGen cushions are super soft and stretchy and work by both cushioning your breast and reducing friction. Moms are calling them “a real nipple saver.” 
beaugen pump pads

2. Pump It Up

  • Build a relaxing environment (as best you can) — Whether you are pumping at home, at work, or on the run, try to find a quiet, private space to pump. Ideally, you want the environment to be calming and relaxing. If you’re able to, many women find that using calming techniques like meditation, visualization, aromatherapy, or even listening to tranquil music are a real help. 

  • Bring your baby to you — If you’re pumping separately from your baby, bring along something that will remind you of your baby to help with letdown. This could be looking at pictures or videos, holding a blanket or stuffed animal that smells like your child, or even FaceTiming with your caregiver or partner to see your baby “live” while you pump. If you’re pumping at home with your baby present, invite them along! 

  • Stay hydrated — Don’t forget: drink that water! 

  • Use your hands to express more milk while pumping — So-called “hands-on pumping” uses simple breast massage techniques to maximize breast milk output… and it can seriously make a big difference in volume. (See this video from Stanford demonstrating the technique.)

  • Don’t look at the bottles — Although it can be surprisingly difficult to look away, lactation consultants advise against staring at the bottles while you pump. Watching your milk can be stress-inducing (I can attest 🙋🏻‍♀️), especially if you are pumping to increase your supply. 

  • Keep pumping — Pumping for 1-3 minutes beyond when your milk stops can help stimulate additional milk production and increase your supply. 

  • Talk to other moms — Connecting with other moms you know who have breastfed or pumped is a wonderful way to grow your community, find support where you need it, gain confidence, and build connections. And no one has better advice than fellow moms!

  • 3. Store and Use Your Milk 

    • Use plastic bags for easy storage —  Breast milk storage bags are a compact, convenient way to store your breast milk. *Don’t forget to date your bags! Per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), freshly pumped breast milk can be safely stored for up to 4 days in the fridge or 6-12 months in the freezer. 

    • Use your oldest breast milk first — breast milk actually changes as your baby grows and develops to meet your baby’s needs (isn’t that awesome?!), so experts suggest using your oldest milk first. Plus, this way there’s less risk of your milk expiring, and there is *nothing worse than having to throw that liquid gold down the drain! 

  • Think beyond the bottle — Did you know you can also incorporate your breast milk into your baby’s food? When you’re starting solids, this is such a great way to help make the transition and continue to incorporate breast milk into your baby’s diet. You can use breast milk in any homemade puree, but we love Amara’s organic baby food line for ease of use and nutrient density — every pouch is actually powdered baby food that you prep by simply mixing with a few tablespoons of your breast milk. The end result is as delicious and nutritious as a homemade meal without any of the fuss. 

  • amara baby food


    Last but not least… 

    Don’t sweat it! — Too many of us already put way too much pressure on ourselves… let’s not add any more. If you don’t pump as much as you thought you would, or you miss a session, or your schedule is thrown off whack, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, know that what you’re doing is already amazing, and parenting is one long misadventure anyway, hah! 

    Good luck out there — and let us know what strategies you use to make the most of your pumping sessions! 

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