Feeding your baby directly from the breast is generally considered the 'easiest' way to ensure they're receiving plenty of liquid gold.
But what if you need to be away from your baby due to work or other commitments? Or fancy letting your partner give baby a feed? That's when expressed breast milk can come in very handy.
Expressing or pumping milk can be TOUGH. Even experienced breastfeedingmamas can find the process frustrating and uncomfortable.
That's why we've pulled together 10 AMAZING tips to help you become a #motherpumper
10 AMAZING tips to make #pumplife easier
Before you start pumping, it is essential that you select the pump that best suits your needs and lifestyle. Check out our essentialguide to choosing a breast pumpto select the breast pump best suited to your individual needs.
Sit in a comfortable chair with your back straight and supported. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor and you use a pillow or cushion to support the arm holding the pump. Make sure you are warm and relaxed. Popping on a pair of socks and even using a heat pack can make all the difference when starting out.
Before and during expressing, massage your breasts in a clock-wise circular motion to encourage a good flow. If you're going to be expressing regularly, a lactation massager like the LaVie Lactation Massager can really help.
When you are ready to begin, support your breast from underneath by placing your fingers flat on your ribs with your first finger between your breast and your ribs. Gently ease your nipple into the funnel of the pump and ensure it is in the centre of the funnel for maximum suction.
Good breast pumps will mimic the sucking action of your baby, stimulating your milk let-down. You should continue to pump from each breast until the milk stops flowing. This will ensure that your supply is plentiful for the next time you need to feed or express.Image source: Love and Breastmilk
Breathe! Breathe deeply. If you are struggling with expressing it can be a stressful experience and this can affect your let-down. Slow breathing automatically calms the nervous system so try this simple exercise: breathe in for the count of 5, breathe out for the count of 6, and pause for the count of one. Repeat until relaxed.
Looking at pictures of your baby can also stimulate the let-down reflex. Watching a video of my daughter laughing and babbling really helped me!
Find the time of day that works best for you. Some women say their flow is best in the morning, while some get more out at night. You know your body and your baby so let this be your guide. Image source: Alabama University
Stay hydrated! Pumping is thirsty work! Make sure you grab a bottle of water (or, better yet, a cup of nursing tea!) before you sit down. A healthy snack like a lactation cookiecan also help.
Finally, don’t be disheartened if it takes a while to get the hang of pumping, or if some days are better than others. Pumping and expressing is a learned skill and the more you practise the better and more proficient you will become.