If you have big boobs, you may have spent your life feeling like you were going to be a natural at breastfeeding. After all, nursing a baby is the true evolutionary purpose of breasts, right? Unfortunately, big breasted women often feel more challenged when it comes to breastfeeding and pumping, according to international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) Leigh Anne O'Connor. It may be a little harder at first to get the pumping going, but there are definitely some helpful tips for pumping with big boobs that could really help you maneuver your large bosom.
In the same way that it's helpful to learn what assists large-breasted women when nursing, there are some pretty specific things you can do to help making pumping go a little smoother because like everything in life, it's about finding the right fit, the right procedures and the right equipment. Danielle Downs Spradlin, an IBCLC at Oasis Lactation Consultants recommends having a professional pump fitting done by a lactation consultant. When you are starting out, a commercial grade hospital pump can help establish your milk supply. These can be expensive, but there are options to rent, and as you continue, a hand-held pump or personal size electric pump could work just as well.
Pumping your large breasts can be very successful, though you may have to do a few extra things that smaller-chested women don't need to do before you start. If you know some mom friends who may be shaped like you, it never hurts to reach out to them and hear about their experiences, too. In the meantime, her are some helpful pumping tips for moms with big boobs.
1. Get A Pumping Bra
Many women use pumping bras to hold the pump receptacles in place. This allows you maximum efficiency as you can pump both breasts at once. Also, standard pumping bras may not fix larger breasted women. If you don't want to splurge on a pumping bra, Spradlin suggests buying a cheap sports bra and cutting holes in the nipple area.
2. Make Sure The Flange Is the Right Size
Many people assume that if they are large breasted they need to use larger flanges when pumping. The truth, according to O'Connor, is that the flange size is more dependent on how malleable the breast tissue is. Some small breasted people need larger flanges while some large breasted people need smaller flanges. It is best to try it out to see which is most comfortable.
Spradlin says that the flange size should be 4 mm larger than the nipple. If you do a fitting with a lactation consultant, they should be able to measure your nipples and ensure the right fit.
3. Use The Highest Suction Setting
As you start pumping, you'll know what pump setting works best for you. It's possible that like blogger Sasha Brown-Worsham, on the What To Expect website, you may need to use the highest suction setting for maximum results. Brown-Worsham said it was tough at first, but gets better (like most of nursing!).
4. Pump At The Right Angle
It's all about the angle as O'Connor cautions that "you want to make sure the pump is comfortable and the the shield (flange) is centered so that the nipple goes into the tunnel as opposed to sliding against the side." She says that, "Sometimes it can help to pump the first couple of times in front of a mirror to see that the pump is positioned well. Equally important is to trust your sense of feel when it comes to pumping. You should be able to feel if the pump is positioned in the right spot."
5. Lift Your Breasts With A Washcloth
Whether pumping or breastfeeding it can be helpful to “lift” the breasts by placing a rolled wash cloth under the breast, says O'Connor. This will place them at an angle that is more conducive to extracting the maximum amount of milk from your breasts.
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