Getting the Most from Your Pumping Sessions

It can be stressful for pumping mothers to make sure they're pumping enough to feed their baby, but there are a few important things to keep in mind.  Pumping output is no reflection of the amount a baby can suck from the breast.   It is normal for milk output to vary on different days and even different times of the day.  Whether you're exclusively pumping, or trying to build a freezer stash, there are a few tips for getting the most from your pumping sessions.

Photo Credit: Jengod - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia

Make a Pumping Routine. 

Get yourself into pumping mode by following a routine.  Make sure to have a drink and snack available while pumping.  Dehydration, low caloric intake and stress can all effect pumping output, so try to make sure you're taking care of yourself so that you can take care of your baby.  Pump in a relaxing environment.  Many mothers find it helpful to have pictures or a blanket to keep nearby while pumping to help trigger a letdown.

Make sure the flanges are the correct size.  

A common pumping mistake is using the wrong size flanges (the cone shaped part that goes on the breast.)  Flanges range in size from 21mm - 36mm.  To know if you have the correct size, the nipple should be able to move freely into the tunnel when suction is applied, but little to no areola should be pulled into the tunnel.  You should not experience nipple pain from using the pump.  Large breast size does not equal large flange size.
In the above image, A. depicts a proper flange size, B. is too small, and C is too big.

Replace Membranes Regularly.

A worn membrane may be the culprit of a decrease in pumped milk quantity.  The membrane is the small, circular flap that drops the milk into the bottle.  When it is used often, it causes the pump to lose suction and can cause a decrease in output.

Try Power Pumping.

Power pumping simulates cluster feeding, and can thus boost supply.  Power pumping is time consuming, so you will have to set aside about an hour each day to do it.  To power pump, follow a schedule such as this:
  1. Pump 20 minutes
  2. Rest 10 minutes
  3. Pump 10 minutes
  4. Rest 10 minutes
  5. Pump 10 minutes

Massage the Breast.

Try massaging the breast before and during pumping.  Do this by rubbing your fingertips in small circles around the breast tissue, gradually working your way towards the areola in a spiral pattern.  Then use long strokes from the chest to the areola.  If milk flow starts to slow down while pumping, start massaging the breast again.  You can also compress the breast with your hand while pumping, firmly but not causing pain.

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About Coffee and Wine Mom

Maddi Casey is a muscle car driving, hard working mama who is obsessed with football and good beer. She has two beautiful baby girls and loving husband. Writing is a passion, hobby and sometimes career of hers at She is also passionate about animals, nature and entrepreneurship.
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