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Pumping can never be truly "easy", but we can do things that make it much more tolerable and less of a chore. You could even say make it "fun"!


I'd like to start off by saying I recently wrapped up my first exclusively pumping journey after 414 days. I weaned unintentionally when I got pregnant again, the hormones from that completely overtook that of lactation. I was also way too exhausted to bother carrying on. I was almost to 14 months, I had originally planned to go two whole years! 10 months shy of my ultimate goal. Next time!


Some of the products I mention here I have discount codes available for- scroll to the bottom for these if you're looking for them!

 

This post contains affiliate links. This means that with any purchases made through my links, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps to support my business and family! Read my full disclosure here.


Teaching Motherhood is not a medical professional, and advice on these pages should not be taken in place of proper medical advice. If you have concerns for lactation that require a medical specialist, please reach out to one. The advice of Teaching Motherhood is not credible as a lactation professional at this time. I am not an expert.

 



 

The number one priority is having a pump that doesn't tether you to the wall every single time. A portable pump gives you the freedom to get up and move around if (and when) you need to. If you think of "pumping sessions" as time to hook up the old ball and chain, and be trapped there until you're finished with no way to get up, you're going to hate the sound of it. You'll dread coming to sit down!


My personal favorite portable pumps are the Pumpables Genie Advanced, followed by the Spectra s1 (which is not nearly as small, but has a battery and is considered portable). Some moms lean toward using a wearable pump, one that sits in your bra with no tubing, as a primary due to the convenience and ease of use. I do not recommend this, because they're not as efficient as a "real pump" with tubing and flanges. But to each their own! The tempting convenience is a compromise in power and effective milk removal. Some moms swear this works fine for them, but there is a HUGE number of moms who use only wearables and report struggling with their supply.


For my next journey I have considered busting out my spectra gold and fashioning a battery pack to it, just for the sake of starting off my supply with my best "workhorse" pump. I have my fingers crossed there will be a firmware update to one of my other beefy pumps that allows it to become a primary for me.. time will tell!


The second most important tip I have is getting a proper pumping bra. You cannot sit and hold the flanges on, it’s just ridiculous. Doing this is not only gonna add unnecessary stress and dreading each session. At the very least you’ll wanna be able to grab something or even use your phone while pumping. What are you gonna do, stare at the wall the whole time? What if you have to sneeze?


I have heard a lot of moms using a "hack" where they fasten the flanges on using the straps of their nursing bras or tanks. I cannot speak to this as I've never done it, but I know it's possible. I personally would rather just buy the proper bra and shove the flanges right in rather than trying to MacGyver my setup together at 4am, but to each their own!


My personal favorite pumping bras are these crop camis by Davin and Adley. I have them in every color, and both of the full length tank colors. Let me just say they're worth every penny, and I'm very glad to not be wrapping some nursing bra straps around my flanges all the time. I do wear these instead of shirts, all day every day. They're even suitable for sleeping in, you don't wake up with boobs falling all over the place like smaller cup style bras.


With the right sized flanges, you can increase your comfort levels and perhaps even output and efficiency. Wearing improperly sized flanges adds unnecessary pain and discomfort to pumping sessions and can even decrease your milk supply over time. That may happen if you're not emptying efficiently- when the flanges are too large, and swelling occurs, milk ducts can be constricted and you won't empty properly. Leaving milk behind often is a signal to the body that it wasn't needed, and your supply may even decrease. This is not a promise that new flanges will "increase your output", however.


The flanges that come stock with most pumps are often too large. This is likely because they can include a large flange that everyone can fit into, but they can't include a small flange that some people can't use at all.


You can download my free printable nipple ruler here to measure your nipples and get proper fitting flanges. A good fit is usually no more than 2-3mm extra space, and a snug fit with silicone if you prefer that material or have elastic tissue. (but everyone is different and the important thing is to use what is the most comfortable for you- not just basing it off of the numbers alone.)


I enjoy the Pumpin Pals flanges, myself. But a lot of moms I've spoken to had issues getting them on and the frustration made them move on to other things, like silicone inserts inside of regular flanges, Lacteck silicone flanges, or Pumpables liquid kits.


"Fridge hacking" your parts between washes: this is not an official recommendation by any means, in fact the CDC discourages it. Especially in babies premature or under 3 months old. Some people do it by their own discretion. This is where you put your used parts in the fridge until your next session to avoid having to wash them. The temperature of the fridge slows down the growth of bacteria, but it does not stop or prevent it. There is a risk of bacterial growth.

Multiple sets of pump parts: if you’re not comfortable doing the fridge hack, having multiple sets of pump parts will take some of the stress off of having to wash pump parts after every session. However it costs extra money and then at the end of the day you’ve got a ton of stuff to wash. I personally did not do this with my first journey (as I write this I'm on a pumping vacation until my new baby arrives and I start over) but I will ABSOLUTELY be doing this next time. No less than 3 sets. For my favorite setup that will require 3 pairs of my pumpin pals flanges with the wide neck adapters, duckbills, back flow protectors, tubing, and bottles. It's worth the larger batch of washing rather than washing each time you pump or fridge hacking them. I read that putting silicone flanges like pumpin pals in the fridge will actually cause them to absorb oil/grease from the milk and stay greasy. That had happened to mine and I didn't realize why until I read it somewhere else!


Hands on pumping, Massagers/warming pads: A lot of moms report that hands on pumping (gentle hand massage to move milk during pumping) can speed up milk flow and decrease pumping time. Alternatively, these are designed to ease the flow of milk and help shorten sessions by getting things going faster. Some moms swear by these and say they absolutely shorten the duration of a pump session, while some say they see no difference. It's truly trial and error and seeing what works for you- as all pump gear usually is! I personally found them to be helpful and comforting. Be patient with their battery life- for such small devices using so much power for heat and vibration, it makes sense that the battery only lasts a session or two!


A special pumping treat/activity: something to help you look forward to every session, especially those darn MOTNs. I love lactation cookies! Especially because nobody in the house will eat them if they’re for lactation. I found that after trying different brands of special lactation treats, my favorite is Liquid Gold Goods. She bakes the softest cookies, which aren't too overpowering in sweetness. They have ingredients like brewers yeast and flaxseed which have been known (for some moms) to increase milk supply. They are herb free, and delicious even if they don't make a huge difference in supply. I found that daily cookies helped me to meet my caloric requirements to keep up my full supply- I was always forgetting to eat proper meals and the cookies really helped push me over. On days I was short on calories, I noticed a difference.


If you're not into using food as a reward, you can certainly do whatever makes you happy and brings that joy during pumping. Moms report watching a favorite show, reading a book, or just scrolling the internet to pass the time!


Be positive: If you think that you're going to be miserable, or tell yourself how much pumping sucks, it's gonna be a tough time. If you focus on a positive aspect, you can see pumping as more enjoyable rather than torture. I liked to focus on the feeling of letdowns, the sound of drops in the bottle, and the satisfaction of putting milk away in the fridge. I also had pumping time as a version of "me time", where I would try to at the very least sit in one place the whole time, and I found that to be very enjoyable. My kids could be present with me but I wouldn't be chasing them across the house!


 

Discount codes for the products mentioned:


Pumpables - TEACHINGMOTHERHOOD

Davin and Adley - TEACHINGMOTHERHOOD

Pumpin Pals - PUMP4OFF

Legendairy Milk - TEACHINGMOTHERHOOD

Lavie - TEACHINGMOTHERHOOD

Liquid Gold Goods - TEACHINGMOTHERHOOD


 

Looking for more information about pumping? Take a gander at some of my other posts-

Packing your pump bag

Exclusive Pumping Getting Started Guide

Common (avoidable) pumping mistakes that can hurt milk supply

20 things I wish I knew about breastfeeding before I had my first baby

My personal favorite pumping supplies & why I liked them

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