Jessica’s rules for effective pumping

As most of you know, I started this journey as an exclusive pumper. My babies were NICU babies and breastfeeding was something I was absolutely committed to, but it took us awhile to get there. I realize that most of you will start breastfeeding and then try to incorporate some pumping in there, but hopefully my experience will be helpful anyhow.

1. Pump often. Don’t skip feedings on a regular basis. Nurse all you can and then pump in addition to that. Each time your child eats you should pump, unless you are nursing.

2. Use hand expression. There is a great link here that shows hand expression. When combined with pumping, this has been shown to substantially increase pumping output. Hand expression and around the clock exclusive pumping is how I built my supply.

3. Drink mother’s milk tea. And water. I love Earth Mama Angel Baby Organics Milkmaid tea. I drink three cups of tea a day and a lot of water. I’m not sure how much I drink, but it’s a lot.

4. Build a freezer stash before you need it. I am thankful every day for my stash. I lost some supply when I couldn’t pump as often as I needed to, but we have enough frozen milk to get us to 6 months at the rate we are going.

To build a stash:
• pump after a feeding (30 minutes later is perfect)
• put the milk in the fridge
• combine a few pumpings’ worth of milk in a freezer bag or container of your choice
• date it and put it in the back of your freezer
• try not to use it

5. Use a flange that fits your nipple. Too big isn’t effective and neither is too small. Plus, they can damage your nipple if they don’t fit right. There’s a great visual here.

6. Pump after nursing. I letdown so much better for the pump if I have nursed a baby or two recently. Plus, this is exactly when you should pump to build that stash so that you can take a nap some day or go on a date ever again. Pumping one ounce isn’t a disaster. That’s perfect. Pump a few times throughout the day and you’ll have enough to freeze.

7. My storage rules:
6 hours at room temperature
48 hours in fridge
3 months in the freezer for a fridge/freezer combo
6 months in the freezer for a deep freeze

I have been known to warm milk up, feed it to a child and then refrigerate the leftovers until the next feeding. I have had no issues doing this and I can’t stomach throwing milk out unless it’s absolutely necessary. I don’t advocate this, but I haven’t had any issues so far.

I use Medela storage bags and have had very few problems. I have had three leaky bags out of the hundreds that I have used. I do not pump directly into the bags because that seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

Hopefully this helps some of you pumping mamas. Good luck! You can do it!


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  1. Heidi Prucker -  March 27, 2012 - 3:07 pm

    You have given me great pumping advice. Both online and during personal conversations, either way you have helped boost my confidence in feeding Max. I am glad to have found a support system of people who actually WANT to help me be a successful breast feeding mother. Although I am still a little jealous you feed two babies like a pro, I hope to be that comfortable and produce enough in May when Max is born.

    • Jessica Murphy -  March 27, 2012 - 4:33 pm

      You will do a great job, dear. I know that you didn’t nurse Karoline for as long as you wanted but I think that you were successful anyhow. You lasted way longer than most moms do. I hope that it’s perfect with Max.

  2. Amy J -  April 2, 2012 - 3:56 pm

    Thanks for the link! It’s nice to know how to hand express if one gets a clogged duct (or mastitis) – I just kind of stumbled around on my own a few days ago- it hurt like crazy to nurse or pump for too long, so I like having the visual instruction on efficient hand expression in case I get one again.

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