Feb 01

Common Pumping Questions

What If Pumping Feels Uncomfortable?

If pumping hurts or your nipple doesn’t move easily inside the plastic flange, ask for help.

You may need a different size flange or may be able to reduce the friction by lubricating the flange with a little milk, lanolin, coconut oil or olive oil.

Is There A Way To Make Pumping Easier?

Hands-free pumping may make pumping easier. You can buy a special pumping bra or make one out of an old bra by cutting holes for the flanges.

There are also pumping devices that fit in your bra that allow you to have hands free. If your milk production is great, ask your lactation nurse how to simplify your schedule.

Is It Normal For My Breasts To Feel Swollen And Lumpy?

When your milk first comes in, your breasts may be full, heavy and large from a combination of swelling and milk production.

You may feel lumps in your breasts caused by the filling of milk glands. This is normal.

Soften lumps by gently massaging your breasts prior to pumping and/or during pumping.

To decrease swelling, use ibuprofen and cool compresses.

If your breasts are full, it is very important to empty them, this is the key to good milk production.

How Can I Increase My Milk Supply?

If your milk supply is not as high as you would like it to be, here are things you can try to help increase it:

Check to make sure your pump is working well and that the flanges fit you comfortably.

Consider renting a high quality electric pump.

Massage (gently) or compress your breasts during pumping to help your milk flow.

Increase your pumping to every three hours during the day and once at night (seven to eight times a day).

Increase your pumping time by 5-10 minutes.

Try relaxation or meditation when you pump.

Make sure you are getting enough to eat. Your body needs an additional 500 to 600 calories per day to produce milk.

Drink plenty of fluids – drinking water is fine; you do not need to drink milk in order to make milk.

Each culture has its own diet recommendations- talk to friends and family about what they recommend- many seem to have a good effect!

Consider drinking Mother’s Milk tea.

Speak with a lactation consultant or your doctor or midwife for other recommendation. (See the locations area of this app for lactation consultants near you.)

Click here to learn more about hand massage to improve your milk production.

What If I Make Too Much Milk?

Some women produce a lot of milk, often due to genetic factors. While this is a great thing for your baby, you may suffer from plugged ducts or very full breasts.

If you are making more than 1,000 mL of milk, talk to a lactation consultant about simplifying your pumping regimen.

Mothers of twins or triplets will, of course, need more milk and the lactation staff can give guidelines as to how much they should try to produce.

Mothers that produce a lot of milk can donate their excess milk to a certified milk bank.

Always be sure you have enough for your own baby- consider getting a deep freezer before you donate since it can hold milk for 12 months.

What If I Am Pumping For Twins…Or More?

Mothers of multiples have a large placenta which makes higher levels of hormones to help mom make enough milk for more babies.

Follow the basic pumping rules and watch your production carefully.

As a basic rule, you will need about 500 mLs each day per baby by the time they are ready to go home.

Twin mother resources/groups can be super helpful.

If I Get Sick, Should I Stop Pumping?

No! When you are sick, your body produces antibodies, which are passed through your milk to protect your baby- keep going!

If you are sick or on new medication, please do not stop pumping. Talk to your doctor about how important your milk is for the baby.

You can also call your lactation consultant, the Neonatologist in the hospital, your OB or midwife before you take medicine or to check if you are getting potentially bad advice to stop pumping.

Continue to pump and freeze your milk until you are sure what to do. Label your milk with any concerns you have.

Click here to check the safety of your medications during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Pumping At Home

Stay on the pumping regimen that you established in the hospital.

Log your milk volume in your logbook or app.

Continue taking your prenatal vitamins. Some mothers take a DHA supplement to help further support baby’s brain and visual development.

Make an appointment with a NICU lactation consultant within a few days of your discharge. The consultant will check on your milk volume, how your pumping is going and your baby’s progress with feedings.

To stay motivated, keep a picture of your baby with you while you pump and remember how important your milk is for your baby.

Click here to download our log book.

How Can My Family, Partner Or Spouse Help?

Your partner or spouse can help by reminding you when it’s time to pump — once every four hours. They can also set up the pump for you and prepare the syringes or bottles with labels.

Cleaning the pump parts is also a big help. You are the only person who can pump, so anything others can do to make pumping easier is helpful.

Remind your partner to do skin-to-skin with the baby, too!

You are the only one who can make milk specifically for your baby. It is critical that you store as much of your milk as possible. You will be amazed how quickly your baby uses your stored milk.

Please do not throw away or donate any milk without talking to the lactation staff first.

Check out this wonderful video about ‘Finding Support When You Have A Premature Baby’.
English Spanish
Lisa Stellwagen MD, FAAP
Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at UC San Diego Health
‘Finding Support When You Have a Premature Baby’ video includes families at Boston Medical Center and was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. For questions or comments about video, contact Dr. Meg Parker, Margaret.parker@bmc.org