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Pump Up the Volume

swingsmw2.jpgIt’s a common-enough scenario.

A new mother realizes she needs to buy more time for herself. Or that her maternity leave is ending and she’s due back work in two weeks. But because she has committed to breastfeeding and its benefits, she whips out her nursing pump instead of shopping for formula.

However, problems arise suddenly for her. The milk is not flowing and filling her bottles with expressed breastmilk (EBM) the way she expected it to. Worse, she encounters pain and for a minute wonders if she was damaging her breasts instead.

Alas, not all mothers know that pumping milk is a lot like breastfeeding. You have to build up your milk supply so that there will be something to extract, and you will need to toughen up your breasts (or nipples) for it. Warming up your breasts and massaging it before and after pumping helps trigger and condition the milk ejection reflex (MER) that facilitates pumping success. Getting a breastpump that works best for you (manual or battery-operated) can also spell the difference in the volume of milk you are able to express.

Initially, and with the help of husbands, mothers can condition their breasts to the pumping by feeding their child on one breast while the husband pumps from the other. The MER triggered by the baby’s sucking will also facilitate milkflow in the other breast and thus help the pump along.

Stressing over the ounces flowing from your breasts when you pump also won’t help. Rather, mothers have found that reading comic books or watching TV or engaging in conversations as they pump help them relax, resulting in more milk for storage.

My personal pumping trick is this: I nurse my baby in just one breast for two consecutive feedings. By the second or third feeding, my other breast will be so engorged already that pumping milk from it would be a piece of cake.

Same with directly breastfeeding, being creative helps in pumping up the volume of EBM.

Check with the La Leche League or Medela web sites for more information

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