Breastfeeding is one thing, but pumping is a whole different ball game. Whether you are an exclusive pumper, occasional pumper or trying to build a freezer stash, pumping is no joke. In this post I share my top 25 pumping hacks to help you achieve your pumping goals.
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Pumping is a huge undertaking for a new mom. There are so many possible struggles you can face. Getting the hang of pumping can be tricky, and so can washing and storing pump parts and your milk bags. It can be a struggle to find time to pump, and when you do pump, it can be very monotonous. Not to mention trying to keep up your milk supply to produce lots of milk and make those pump sessions productive!
This post is full of pumping hacks to make life as a pumping mom just a little bit (actually a lot) easier. Keep reading for 25+ genius pumping hacks for mamas!
My Pumping Experience
With my first daughter, I quickly became an avid pumper. A few weeks after her birth, I had a scare that landed me in the emergency room. Unfortunately, I had not pumped any milk yet (I had no plans to be separated from her for the foreseeable future). We had to give her formula while I was in the hospital.
It ended up being no big deal, but after that day, I became a little obsessive about building a freezer stash. I pumped everyday, twice a day, for months and wound up with a freezer full of breast milk.
Throughout the long months of pumping, I learned A LOT about how to make pumping quicker and easier for myself. Today I want to share that knowledge with you so your pumping journey can be that much easier!
My Number One Pumping Hack
Pumping Hack #1: Knowledge is Power
Pumping is a big undertaking, especially if you’re exclusively pumping or hoping to build a sizable freezer stash.
The more you know about pumping, the better off you are. Learning the ins and outs about pumping, whether it be increasing your milk supply, cleaning pump parts, finding the best breast pump for you, or safely storing your milk is an important part of your pumping journey.
A good knowledge base will save you so much struggle and strife and avoid a lot of frustration over the course of your pumping journey. Hacks like the ones in this post will help you, but a good foundation of knowledge will really help you become a pumping expert.
Start by talking to your friends and other mamas you know who are experienced pumpers. But don’t stop there. See if there are any lactation consultants knowledgeable about pumping in your area. Look for support groups, or even Facebook groups for pumping mamas.
If you are looking for a comprehensive course on pumping by a certified lactation educator who really knows her stuff, this online course is absolutely amazing. Unlike other breastfeeding courses that only cover pumping as a brief after note, this course is exclusively dedicated to pumping and has tons of information for the pumping mama. I highly recommend it!
Pumping Gear Hacks
I cover all my favorite pumping gear in this post on pumping must-haves.
Pumping Hack #2: Double Pump
I would definitely recommend a double pump instead of a single one. Pumping is time consuming and can seem monotonous. Using a double pump cuts your pumping time in half. Definitely worth the extra money!
Pumping Hack #3: Use Milk Savers or a Haakaa Pump each time
There are a couple ingenious inventions to help moms collect milk even when they’re not pumping. invest in one or both to get the most out of your milk supply
Milkies Milk Savers are wearable breast shells that collect milk during the day anytime you have a letdown (basically a nursing pad that collects your milk instead of absorbing it). Plus, they save your nipples from extra friction in those early days when everything is so SO sore.
The Haakaa breast pump is another crazy smart invention. It is a silicone breast pump that uses suction instead of electricity. You can wear it on one side while nursing on the other and it will catch the milk expressed on the other side as you nurse (and you don’t have to worry about a soggy nursing pad after!). You can collect as much as 2 oz per feed this way!
Bonus: The Haakaa also makes an excellent travel pump. No more lugging around your big double pump on trips!
Pumping Hack #4: Use a Pumping Bra or Sports Bra
Definitely, definitely invest in a pumping bra! Pumping is time consuming, and you’ll want to be doing something else while you pass the time. A pumping bra will hold the pumps in place, allowing you to be hands-free. Many manufacturers sell pumping bras. This one attaches right to your regular nursing bra so you don’t have to switch bras every time you have a pumping session. What a life saver!
If you are trying to save money and have an old sports bra around (that you don’t plan on using again), you can use this hack to DIY your own pumping bra.
I will say that a purchased pumping bra is easier to use while at the office or in public. If you’re planning on just pumping at home, the sports bra hack would be fine.
Hacks for While You Pump
Once you’ve got the right gear, it’s time to pump. Here are some hacks to help you during pumping time.
Pumping Hack # 5: Have a Pump Bag or Basket with Supplies
Once you start pumping, it’s a pain to have to stop to go grab something from the other end of your house. Create a pumping basket with all your must-haves withing arms reach. This could include water, reading material, pictures of your child or their hat or clothes (keep reading to find out why), etc.
Pumping Hack #6: Do Something You Enjoy
Pumping is no picnic, so you might as well do something you enjoy. Maybe that means a few minutes or downtime flicking through Instagram, listening to a favorite podcast or enjoy your favorite snack. There’s no need to be bored while pumping.
Be sure to read this post on how to pump more milk FAST so you can make the most out of your pump sessions.
Pumping Hack #7: Car Adapter
This is such an exciting find! You can purchase a car adapter for your breast pump and pump while driving. How perfect, especially if you have a long commute! I did this on an out of town road trip when we were away from my first and it was so easy! This one is so affordable. It’s definitely worth it!
Pumping Hacks to Increase Your Output: Pump MORE Milk
Please be aware that if you are nursing full-time AND trying to pump, you should not expect to produce more than an ounce or two per pump session (especially after about a month once engorgement has eased and your supply has evened out). Do not stress about you baby getting enough milk (as long as they are gaining weight and having lots of wet diapers). Babies are much more efficient at getting breast milk than pumps are!
Take is from a mom who pumped MAYBE an ounce per session and wound up with a deep freeze full of breast milk. You don’t need to worry about not producing enough. Be patient with yourself and you’ll be fine.
If you are concerned about your milk supply, please read this post about Myths About Milk Supply New Moms MUST Know.
Pumping Hack #8: Timing
Be sure to pump in the morning, when your supply is highest. Research tells us milk supply is at its highest from between 4 to 6 am. That might be a little early for you to being pumping, but try to pump as early in the morning as you can.
Pumping Hack #9 : Heat can Help!
If you’re struggling with letdown, heat can help you. Take a warm shower, or apply a heating pad or warm compress to your breasts.
Pumping Hack #10: A Little Massage:
Try to massage your breasts while pumping. You can extract more milk this way.
Pumping Hack #11: Smell
Keep your baby’s hat or another piece of their clothing to smell while you are pumping. Science shows us that the scent of your baby’s head automatically triggers your milk-making hormones! Finally an explanation for why newborns’ heads smell so darn good!
Pumping Hack #12 Watch Videos
If you’re still having trouble with your letdown, try looking at pictures or even videos of your baby should help. I used a video of my baby showing hunger cues and it got the job done every time!
Pumping Hack #13 Diet
Galactagogues are foods or supplements that increase milk supply. You can easily purchase supplements or cook with foods that are known galactagogues. You likely won’t need supplements if you are breastfeeding, but if you are pumping (either exclusively, or to build a freezer stash) you might need a little help.
Check with a health care provider about taking herbal supplements to ensure they right for you.
Here’s a list of galactagogues:
Foods that Can Boost Milk Supply:
- Brewer’s Yeast
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- LOTS of Water
- Some swear by Blue Gatorade
You can purchase a special breastfeeding tea, or try your hand at baking breastfeeding cookies or making a smoothie.
Check out these posts for scrumptious lactation-increasing recipes!
Pumping Hack #14: Skin to Skin While Pumping
You might think you can only pump while your baby naps, but this isn’t true. You can position your baby on your chest and do some skin-to-skin snuggles while you’re pumping to help with letdown and producing more milk. You can even pump on one side while breastfeeding on the other.
Pumping Hack #15: Power Pump
Power pumping can be a powerful tool for increasing your milk supply. Meant to mimic a baby’s cluster feeding, power pumping involves several pump sessions in frequent succession.
Start by pumping for ten minutes, and then take a ten minute break. Do this cycle of ten minutes of pumping and ten minutes of break for three repetitions.
Do this for several days in a row and you’ll notice a substantial increase in your supply.
Pumping Hack #16: Make Sure Flanges Fit Properly
If you’re not producing much milk, you can check if your flanges properly fit your nipples/breasts. Your breast pump manual should show you how to tell if the parts are too small or too large. You can also ask a lactation consultant for help. Many brands offer different sized pump parts available to order.
Pumping Hacks for Milk Storage
So what do you do with all the milk you’ve pumped? Milk storage is another key to your pumping success!
Pumping Hack #17: Freeze Bags Flat
You should always freeze your bags laying flat, not standing up, so they take up less space in the freezer and are easier to organize (take it from the girl who pumped for six months not realizing this tip!).
Pumping Hack #18: Store in Pop Containers
If you drink a lot of soda (in cans), you can save the cardboard boxes they come in. They make perfect storage containers to breastmilk bags!
If you;re not a soda drinker, these storage containers from amazon also fit bags perfectly.
Pumping Hack #19: Use Flanges to Pour
One of the worst things that can happen to a pumping mom is spilling her hard-earned liquid gold. I don’t know a mom who hasn’t cried over spilled milk!
To prevent this, use the flanges as a funnel when transferring milk from bag to bottle. You won’t have to worry about any spillage!
Pumping Hack #20: Don’t Overfill Bags
Milk storage bags are really large, and your baby will probably not drink a full bag of milk. Instead of filling bags to the brim, store 3-4 oz per bag. It’s much easier to thaw two bags if baby is hungry than to waste half a bag of milk!
Pumping Hack #21: Use Sterilized Ice Cube Trays
If you don’t want to use milk collection bags, you can sterilize an ice cube tray and freeze your milk in ice cubes, then store in a large ziploc freezer bag. This makes it easy to get the perfect portion size and you create less waste by avoiding multiple bags.
I would only use this method if you’re planning on using the milk fairly quickly. I would worry about freezer burn if you left a bag of breast milk ice cubes in the freezer for months.
Pumping Hack #22: Order Bags from Oldest to Newest
When storing your breast milk bags, be sure to order your bags from oldest to newest. You’ll want to use your oldest milk bags first, as milk only lasts in the freezer for so long.
Pumping Hacks for Cleaning & Sterilizing
Cleaning your breast pump parts is a big pain in the butt! I have a couple tips to make things a little easier for you.
Pumping Hack #23: Use a Sterilizer
For some foolish reason, I did not think I needed a sterilizer for my first baby. I honestly boiled a pot of water to sterilize my pumping equipment EVERYDAY for months and months. It was ridiculous.
For my second baby, I bought a sterilizer and absolutely love it. Everytime I sterilize something, I get a little thrill. It’s so so much easier!
I don’t like to microwave plastic parts, so I chose a traditional sterilizer, which I love!
Pumping Hack #24: Sterilizer Once a Day and Store in Freezer
You can get away with only sterilizing once a day if you store your pump parts (everything that touches the milk) in the fridge in a plastic bag between pump sessions.
Pumping Hacks for Out of the House
Whether you are going back to work, or taking a trip, you’ll probably have to pump away from home at some point.
Pumping Hack #25: Use Nursing Cover as a Pumping Cover
You probably have a nursing cover laying around somewhere (if you don’t, you can get a free Udder Cover using the code Sunshine). You can also use it as a pumping cover, just in case you’re worried someone will walk in on you.
Pumping Hack #26: Put a Sticky Over Automatic Flusher
If you are stuck pumping in the bathroom (this shouldn’t be happening at work btw: your legal rights about pumping at work are explained in the pumping course I mentioned above), you can use a sticky note to cover the automatic flush sensory, so you don’t have to listen to the toilet flush on repeat.
Well, those are my top pumping hacks to make your pumping journey that much easier. Happy Pumping!
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