Written by: Jessica Diamond, MPH, RDN
Using a breast pump for the first time can be so intimidating. It’s definitely uncharted territory and unlike anything we’ve experienced before. Each body is different, but pumping can get quite uncomfortable, especially if you’re in a situation where you’re pumping regularly. The good news is, there are some really simple things you can do to make the experience much more comfortable. If you’re dealing with that all-too-familiar dread of pumping, we’ve got you! Below are five ways to improve the comfort and ease of the whole experience.
- Make sure you have appropriately-sized pump parts: Breast shields, also known as flanges, come in different sizes, so before you buy multiple pump parts, make sure you have the right breast shield size. (This nipple ruler can help!) Having the right size is important for comfort and optimal milk production. One of the most common causes of discomfort and decreased output while pumping is the wrong-sized breast shield.
- Pumping on too high of suction: Another common cause of discomfort is pumping with too much suction. We often feel like the more suction, the higher the output, so we’re tempted to ramp it up. But this actually isn’t true: higher suction doesn’t mean higher output. Always adjust the suction to your comfort. Start off with Level 1 and then increase to your comfort level. Once it’s comfortable, decrease the level down once.
- Invest in breast pump cushions: Breast pump cushions (like these from Legendary Milk or these from BeauGen) can help you pump in comfort. They easily slide inside your breast shield to create a customized fit, which reduces pain and discomfort. In our experience, these are absolute game-changers!
- Use pumping spray: This spray by Legendary Milk is heavenly. It protects your nipples by minimizing friction and keeping your skin moisturized – say goodbye to dry, chafed nipples! And it’s formulated with organic products that are all food-grade ingredients to boot.
- Make sure the duckbill is properly fitted in your pump: Duckbills need to be replaced every 1-2 months with regular wear and tear (which is something that is not obvious!). With a worn out or poorly fitting valve, the pump won’t extract milk efficiently, leading to longer pump sessions or string suction, all of which results in more discomfort. Changing the valves regularly is an inexpensive and simple fix. These duckbills by Legendary Milk are some of our faves.
Looking for more information about pumping or nursing? We break down the basics of pumping and bottle feeding in our article, When and How to Start Pumping and Bottle Feeding, be sure to download our Breastfeeding and Pumping freebie here. We know breastfeeding can be a beast to manage, but we see you and are here to help guide you through.