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6 Tips To Make Pumping Easier

Pumping breast milk is no easy task. Tot Lactation Expert Rebecca Agi, MS, IBCLC shares tips on streamlining the process to make life as an exclusive pumper more manageable.

breast pump tips

Let’s be honest, pumping milk is hard work. Between washing bottles, sterilizing pump parts, clipping down, and bottle-feeding your baby, there’s a ton of things to do aside from actually pumping your milk. But have no fear, there are ways to make pump sessions easier and more efficient. Here’s a list of tips that can help you streamline the process and make life as an exclusive (or occasional) pumper more manageable and dare we say, enjoyable.

#1: Be prepared

First and foremost, you should always have a clean set of pump parts ready for use. If you’re exclusively pumping milk for your baby, or pumping regularly at work, I recommend having an extra pair of flanges, membranes and bottles as a backup, just in case something gets misplaced or damaged. A hands-free pumping bra is also a good investment since it allows you to work on your laptop, give your baby a bottle, or scroll through your phone while pumping.  This can make a huge difference, especially if you’re spending 1-2 hours on the pump every day.  

#2: Set a schedule 

Knowing where and when you’re going to pump is another key to pumping success. To maintain your milk production, you should pump as often as your baby feeds. On average, this is about every 3 hours but it really depends on the age of your baby. If you’re pumping at work, find a quiet, private place and set a reminder on your phone or computer to help keep you on schedule. Luckily for working moms, the Break Time for Nursing Mothers’ Law protects nursing mothers returning to the workplace. The law requires employers to provide reasonable break time to express milk and a private, non-bathroom space to express milk during the workday through the baby’s first year. For more information, be sure to read my article on Legal Rights for the Breastfeeding Mother.

#3. Dress for Success

Dressing for pumping success isn’t as hard as it may sound. In fact, you probably already have some suitable pieces in your closet. Button-down shirts, wrap dresses, loose-fitting tops, and camisoles are all good options for pumping, especially if you’ve returned to work. You can also drape a light blanket or shawl over your shoulders if you get cold.

#4. Have a cleanup strategy

No matter where you pump, having a cleanup strategy can make things a lot easier and save you time in the long run. New guidelines from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) recommend cleaning your pump parts after each use. You can clean your pump kit either by hand in a wash basin used only for this purpose, or in the dishwasher. For extra protection, sanitize pump parts, wash basin and bottle brushes at least once per day after they’ve been cleaned. If your infant was born premature or has a weakened immune system, your healthcare provider may have additional recommendations for pumping and storing breast milk safely. For detailed instructions, see our guide to How to keep your breast pump clean.

#5. Store milk safely

After pumping, always cap the bottles or seal milk collection bags and immediately place them in a refrigerator, freezer, or cooler bag with ice packs. For detailed instructions on milk storage guidelines, check out the CDC’s Safe Storage of Expressed Breast Milk guidelines.

#6. Make it enjoyable

It can be boring to sit and watch your milk drip into a bottle, so use this time to treat yourself to a nice distraction. It may be something as simple as looking at photos of your baby on your phone (this can actually help with let-down), catching up on emails, sipping a warm cup of tea, enjoying a piece of chocolate, or reading a book. After all, this may be the best time to actually relax and catch up on a few things.

Pumping milk isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. Thinking about the logistics ahead of time can help you strategize your pumping routine. Before you know it you’ll be pumping like a pro.