21 Pumping Hacks you Have to Try
21 Hacks that Make Pumping Breast Milk so Much Easier
Who doesn’t love a good pumping hack? Let’s face it, the pump life can be rough. Even though the ability to make milk for our babies is a blessing, pumping can be a huge pain. It interrupts your day, there are so many pieces to wash and put together, and it can be a real time suck. However, if you’re a breastfeeding mom, pumping is a gift. Luckily, there are plenty of pumping hacks to help you with production, efficiency, cleaning, and more. Here are a few of my favorite pumping hacks I learned over the years.
Breast Pump Hacks
Get a Free Breast Pump
To me, this is the best pumping hack out there. Get a free breast through insurance! Breast pumps costs hundreds of dollars, but you can get yours for free by simply filling out a short form. I got my free pump through Aeroflow and I was amazed at how easy it was. I filled out their online questionnaire and they did all the back-end leg work like communicating with my doctor and insurance company. From there, I just had to choose my pump (I got the Medela Pump n’ Style) and wait for it to be delivered to my front door. Easy peasy.
Replace your Valves with Duckbill Valves
If you’ve never seen a breast pump before, they come with a lot of parts. One very important part is the valve. These valves create the suction that pulls the milk from your breast. One awesome pumping hack is to replace the regular valves with duckbill valves. The duckbill valves leave you with less pieces to wash, but they also create better suction resulting in a better breast milk output. So more milk, less washing! Side note, if you’re ever having trouble with the suction of your pump, swap out your valves (no matter what kind you have). They need to be replaced often and can have a huge impact on your output.
Utilize the Letdown Setting
When you start up your breast pump, the suction starts in a quick and frequent rhythm. It’s essentially trying to mimic your baby’s sucking at the beginning of a feed, when they’re trying to encourage a letdown. If you’re not having a letdown yet, and your pump switches to the slower, pulling rhythm, you can press the letdown button and switch back to the letdown mode. A great pumping hack is to switch back to letdown mode once your milk flow starts slowing down during a pumping session. Sometimes, you can get multiple letdowns in one session, resulting in more milk and less time spent at the pump!
Get the Correct Flange Size
The standard breast pump flange size is 24mm. But as we all know, no two breasts are alike. You may need smaller flanges or larger flanges to get the most out of your pumping sessions. So how to do you figure out what size flange you need? You’ll need to measure the diameter of your nipple. Aeroflow Breast Pumps has the perfect guide for finding your flange size and making sure it’s the perfect fit!
Pumping Production Hacks
Catch the Extra Milk
One of the best pumping hacks of all time is to save every drop of that liquid gold. Did you know that when you have a letdown, milk flows from both nipples, not just the one your baby is feeding on? I can’t tell you how many milk filled nursing pads I threw away while breastfeeding my oldest son. The second time around, I got my hands on a haakaa and milk savers. I was catching so much extra milk that I had built a solid freezer stash before even touching my electric pump. I am a huge fan of the haakaa and used it all the time. It’s meant to be used while nursing, but I soon discovered it was multi-functional. It’s probably the product I would recommend most to any breastfeeding mom. Once my son got a little older and started doing the good old “nursing acrobatics”, I used the milk savers to catch my letdowns. Both products are super affordable and a huge help for anyone who needs to have expressed milk on hand.
Related: Haakaa Hacks for Breastfeeding Moms
Use Heat to Pump More Milk
Using heat while pumping can help you express more milk. Warming up your breasts can help soften them and really get the milk flowing. You can use a heating pad or these breast comfort packs to apply heat. I personally used the comfort packs because they fit perfectly around the breast and could be slipped right into my pumping bra. Not to mention, they can be used hot or cold depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.
Try Hands on Pumping
Another pumping hack to help you make more milk is to try hands on pumping. At the end of each pumping session, massage each breast and push any extra milk toward your nipple. You can feel around your breasts for any spots that seem a little full and massage. I love this video that shows you some great tips for hands on pumping.
Look at Pictures and Videos of your Baby
Being hooked up to a machine takes away so many positive and powerful aspects of making milk. We don’t have our baby’s natural sucking, skin to skin, or the ability to stare down into those sweet little eyes to help us get the milk flowing. In the technology age, one my favorite pumping hacks was to pull out my phone and stare at pictures or videos of my baby. I even went so far as to watch a video of him crying because that was almost always sure to encourage a letdown.
Cover the Bottle
I recently saw this pumping hack going viral on the internet. A mom covered her pumping bottles with baby socks so that she couldn’t see how much (or little) she was pumping. I realized I used to do the same thing, just without the socks. I would put a blanket over my bottles or stare at my phone and try not to focus on how many ounces I was producing. Stress and tension can have a huge impact on milk supply and output. If you’re constantly worried about how much milk is coming out, chances are, you’re slowing things down. The response to this viral post was overwhelming. Many moms tried this hack and commented with positive feedback. Although it may seem silly, this is an easy pumping hack that’s worth a try!
Double Pump Without Electricity
As a pumping mom, you can find yourself in some pretty precarious situations. I’ve pumped in bathrooms, at tailgates, at weddings, and in a tiny office at my part-time job. Anytime I was planning on being away from my baby for more than a couple hours, I would bring my makeshift double pump… a haakaa and a manual pump. I hated lugging around my electric pump and all it parts, and I was never even guaranteed to have access to electricity, so this “double pump” became my go to. I’d attach the haakaa to one side and manually pump the other. I can’t say my output was as great as it would be with my electric pump, but I was never disappointed by the amount of milk I pumped. Not to mention, it kept me comfortable and helped me avoid engorgement.
Pump in the Car
For many working moms, multitasking is second nature. A car ride to and from work can be all the time you need to get in a good pumping session. I was thrilled when my second breast pump came with something my first breast pump didn’t, a car adapter. Pumping in the car is a great hack for any mom who spends a lot of time on the road.
Get a Hands Free Pumping Bra or Brauxiliary Band
It may seem strange, but I would have never thought to get a hands free pumping bra with my first baby. Luckily, I got a hand me down one from a friend who never ended up using it. It ended up being one of my must have breastfeeding products. I used it all the time and it make pumping so much easier and more relaxing. Another option is to get a brauxiliary band. It clips to your nursing bra and keeps your flanges in place so that you don’t even need to change. The brauxiliary band is perfect for working moms who don’t want to wear around a bulky pumping bra all day.
Pump Straight into the Bag
Another pumping hack to help you with efficiency is to pump straight into the bag. I’ve found that a lot of women love this option as it saves them and entire step. You can pump and put it straight in the freezer afterward. I, however, always preferred to just pump into the bottles. I think pumping into the bags is a little more risky when it comes to spills and I don’t always trust the ounce markers on the bags. But, if you’re in a hurry, this is a great pumping hack to try.
Store Parts in the Fridge Between Pumping Sessions
This pumping hack is genius. Did you know that you can store your pump parts in a Ziplock bag in the fridge between pumping sessions? The colder temperature reduces the growth of bacteria so you don’t have to sanitize in between sessions. You still need to wash and sanitize all your pump parts at the end of the day, but if you’re working and trying to make the most of your pump breaks, this is such a game changer.
Use Sterilization Bags
I didn’t even know microwaveable sterilization bags existed until after I was don’t breastfeeding, but these things look amazing. All you have to do is put all your parts into the bag and microwave for about three minutes and it kills 99.9% of germs and bacteria. What a gift.
Freeze in Batches
As I mentioned before, I always liked to pump into bottles. Instead of pouring those bottles into bags right when I was done pumping, I’d put them in the fridge until I had quite a few bottles to freeze. Breast milk is good in the fridge for up to five days. It always just seemed easier to me to make multiple bags and freeze them at the same time.
Combine Milk from Different Pumping Sessions
Another reason I let my milk pile up in the fridge was so that I could mix milk from different nursing sessions together. If I had just a couple ounces from one day, and a couple more from another, I’d combine them to make sure I wasn’t wasting a bunch of breast milk storage bags. I also liked to make sure that I mixed milk with a lot of fat content (hindmilk) with milk with just a little fat content (foremilk), so that I knew each frozen bag had a good amount of that rich and fatty hindmilk to fill up my baby. If you’ve ever looked at a cooled bottle of breastmilk, you can see a thicker layer of milk on top (it almost looks like cream). This is the hindmilk. It comes out after the foremilk at the end of a pumping or nursing session.
Freeze in the Amount your Baby Eats
A great pumping hack is to freeze your milk in the amount that baby eats. For example, if they eat three ounces a feeding, freeze in three ounce portions. If they eat five ounces a feeding, freeze in five ounce portions. I would change my portion sizes as my babies grew or added solids to their diet. It just made things easier on whoever was bottle feeding and ensured that we weren’t wasting any milk at the end of the day.
Lay Flat to Freeze
When you’re a new mom, sometimes it’s the simplest tricks that make life easier. I will never forget showing my friend my little freezer stash of four bags. I had them standing straight up in my freezer. She said “oh, you should lay them flat next time so they don’t take up so much room.” Why didn’t I think of that? I’m so thankful she told me this, because before long, I would have been out of room in my freezer. Laying the bags flat to freeze saves so much space and just makes your stash easier to stack.
Freeze in an Empty Wipe Container or Tupperware
My favorite pumping hack for freezing your breast milk is to lay the bag in a wipe container or Tupperware container. Especially if you’re freezing multiple bags at once, having them in some sort of container makes it so that they won’t fall over and can fit in any little spot in your freezer.
Make Breast Milk Bricks
Having a huge freezer stash is not a necessity, but if you do, I highly recommend making breast milk bricks. I struggled with an oversupply with my second baby, and I had so much frozen milk. The best way I found to store it was to freeze it in the breast milk storage bags, then put those bags into a gallon sized Ziplock bag. I put the date range on the outside of the bag, then just stacked the bricks. I always used the oldest milk first and it just made storage and organization so much easier.
If you’re a pumping mom, I know it can be tough. Being hooked up to a machine isn’t really anyone’s idea of fun. And, to be honest, putting away my pump was always one of my favorite moments at the end of my breastfeeding journeys. I was so grateful for it, and the opportunities it gave me to feed my baby while I was away, but I was never sad to see it go. So for you, who might just be getting started, or is smack dab in the middle of the pump life, I hope these pumping hacks help.
- How to Make Exclusive Pumping Work for You
- How to Pick the Perfect Pump
- What to Pack in your Pumping Bag
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