Breastpumping Tips for the Stressed-Out Moms, Preemie Moms, and Exclusive Pumpers


We’re continuing our celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2019 The theme for this year is “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding.” Thanks to Lovelace Health System for sponsoring this World Breastfeeding Week Editorial Series. 

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If you are breastpumping due to an unforeseen challenge with your bundle of joy and you are really, really stressed out, this post is for you. Problems with latch, painful nursing, weight gain concerns, premature birth, undersupply and oversupply, food allergies, reflux, and a variety of other difficult circumstances can result in a need to breast pump.

My first son was born very premature. Due to a complicated variety of medical issues, he was never able to latch effectively. I pumped for eight months and stockpiled enough breastmilk for his first year of life. My second son nursed well immediately. But my third son had a short NICU stay, so I had to pull the breast pump out once again. I established my supply with the pump and transferred him to the breast when he was a few weeks old.

I consider myself a bit of a breastpumping expert, and I’ve picked up a few game-changing tips that I want to share.Breastpumping Tips for the Stressed Out Mom by Albuquerque Moms Blog

Feel However You Want to Feel

I have talked to so many women (either breastpumping or nursing) who have become anxious and guilt-ridden by the suggestion that their milk isn’t letting down because they are too stressed out. When my son was in the NICU and I was concerned about milk supply, I too was told to “relax” and “stay calm” to help with letdown during pumping. (Awesome. Now I’m stressed out about being stressed out.)

Telling a nursing or pumping mother to “calm down” is like telling your spouse to “calm down” in the middle of an argument. It never works. 

Women have nursed since the beginning of time under all kinds of terrible, stressful conditions. War, grief, illness . . . . all of it. Putting pressure on yourself to “just relax” is counterproductive. When my very sick child was fighting for his life in the hospital, I felt bad. Very bad. I was grief-stricken and anxious and pretty miserable. Still, I was able to pump enough milk for his first year of life. 

So let yourself off the hook for feeling sad in a sad situation or stressed in a stressful situation. Feel however you want to feel.

Make It As Fun As Possible

Breastpumping is not fun. At least I don’t know anyone who thinks it is fun. I do know a lot of women who want to smash their breastpump à la that hilarious copier scene in Office Space. 

I made breastpumping a time when I could do something mindless and fun. I watched shows on my laptop that my husband would never want to watch with me. I read some good books. I journaled. This allowed me to look forward to pumping, or at least not hate it.

And here’s a critical piece of sage advice. Don’t just sit there, staring at your nipples, as the minutes tick by. I know it’s tempting, especially if you are concerned about milk supply. But it won’t help. Watching a show or reading a book will distract you and help you to not obsess.

Set a Schedule

Breastpumping takes a lot of discipline because you can ignore a breast pump, but you can’t ignore a screaming baby. If I didn’t set a schedule, I would realize that I’d only pumped once or twice and it was already mid-day. I needed to pump seven or eight times a day to maintain my supply. It was really helpful for me to schedule out how I would “fit-in” my seven pumping sessions and track the amount of milk I pumped in a notebook.

I also discovered some interesting things through my tracking notebook. For example, if I got busy and didn’t eat enough, my supply would often be low for that day!Breastpumping Tips for the Stressed Out Mom by Albuquerque Moms Blog

A Few More Quick Tips

Use a Heating Pad

Buy or make a microwaveable heating pad and hold that on your breasts while pumping. If I pumped right after a hot shower, I noticed that the milk would start to flow really quickly. Since I obviously couldn’t shower before every pumping session, I used my heating pad to speed up the pumping process.

Make a Pumping Bra

If you spend hours at the pump, you need your hands free. You can journal! You can read! You can switch to the next episode of Lost on your laptop! Cut holes in the front of an old sports bra and you don’t even need to purchase one.

Get a Good Pump

If you expect to pump for even a few weeks, ask a lactation consultant about getting a hospital grade pump. These pumps really do work more quickly and effectively. With my third son, the lactation consultant called my insurance and arranged everything while I was in the hospital. A hospital pump literally showed up on my doorstep and it was so worth it.

Check out this post for even more helpful tips. 

Exclusive breastpumping can be very hard to maintain. Special kudos to you if you are pumping under a stressful circumstance. Breastpumping moms, what tips do you have to share?