Much like breastfeeding, the concept of pumping sounds simple enough. In real life, however, it is often much more difficult than the idealized versions of pumping you may imagine. It's not always as easy as hooking up the pump and sitting until you're machine does it's job of emptying your breasts of their liquid gold. There are several pumping mistakes that could be affecting your milk supply that are far too easy to make. Luckily, they're just as easy to solve, once you're aware of what is causing your supply to dwindle.
No matter how long you've been pumping, its possible for things to get off track if you're not intentional and careful about how and when you pump. For moms who exclusively pump it's even more important for them to stay on top of these supply "downers," since they're not nursing as well, which can help to keep your supply up even if you miss a pumping session.
Barring any medical reasons why you'd have a low supply — which is actually very rare, affecting only four percent of lactating women, according to Fit Pregnancy — it's really not as hard as it seems to keep up your milk supply with your handy breast pump in tow. They may be a bit awkward to get used to, but with the proper schedule and usage, you'll be pumping like a pro in no time.
1. You're Not Using The Right Pump
According to the Bump, having the right pump will make a huge difference in the amount of milk you'll be able to express. If you're using a hand pump or a low quality electronic pump, you may not be expressing enough to keep up your supply. Investing in a hospital grade pump (or seeing if your health insurance covers one) will make a huge difference in the amount of time and work it takes to pump a substantial amount and keep your supply up.
2. You're Not Pumping Long Enough
Although exact times will obviously vary from mom to mom, if you have a quick, well established let down, your pumping sessions should last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes depending on the type of pump and whether or not you pump both sides at once. Anything shorter than this won't express as much milk as you need to keep your milk supply up, especially if you're exclusively pumping.
3. You're Skipping Sessions
Having a set schedule is key for keeping up your supply when you're pumping. If you're doing a mixture of nursing and pumping, you may be able to get away with skipping a pumping session here and there. But when you exclusively pump, it's essential that you stick to the same pumping times if you want to avoid decreasing your supply, according to Alpha Mom. However, as your baby grows, their feedings will be spaced apart more and more, so when you need to adjust, skipping a session is a great way to do it.
4. You're Dehydrated
Although you don't need to go overboard on your water consumption, you may feel dehydrated when you pump, and according to Mom Junction, dehydration while pumping is a fairly common experience. Obviously, drinking more water is the solution to this problem, and it can be as simple as carrying a water bottle or grabbing a glass of water before you sit down to pump.
5. You Don't Have Support
No mom is an island and without the proper support it is extremely difficult to keep up a consistent pumping schedule, which can put a damper on the amount you're able to express. Whether it's a discussion with your boss about carving pumping time into your schedule, or asking your partner, mom, or friend to help out with the baby while you pump, you shouldn't have to go it alone and those closest to you should be more than willing to accommodate.