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How To Make Pumping More Comfortable, Because Sometimes It's Just Awkward

Using a breast pump isn't exactly known for making you feel comfortable. It is, however, extremely convenient, whether you're pumping from work, right in front of your baby, or a mixture of the two. Sometimes pumping can be a little bit uncomfortable though — holding a piece of machinery to your breasts certainly isn't as comforting or snuggly as holding your little baby. But learning how to make pumping more comfortable can be the difference between a loving relationship between you and your pump, and giving up on pumping altogether.

One article from What To Expect called pumping your breast milk a learned art — one that doesn't always come easily or naturally, but a skill that everyone can perfect with a little bit of practice. If you're in pain or uncomfortable, however, the chances that you'll take the time to learn how to pump are slim. So implementing these easy tips next time you sit down to pump will not only make your time pumping pain free, it will ensure you get the maximum milk out of your session.

Even though your pump may not be your most stylish accessory, or as cute as your baby, when used correctly, it can be your actual best friend.

1. Have Enough Back Support

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Make sure to sit in a comfortable chair or recliner when you pump. Although you can't really lean back, having a seat that supports your back (even if you just put a pillow behind you) will take the pressure off of your back and stomach when you're trying to sit still to pump.

2. Find The Right Sized Breast Sheilds

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Your pump will probably come with a "standard size" of breast shield, however, it's not necessarily a one-size-fits all piece of equipment. If you're experiencing pain when you pump, consider moving up or down a size. According to Medela, if your breast shield fits properly, your nipple will be centered in the shield and move freely when pumping. If it's too small, your nipple will rub the side. If it's too large, your nipple and areola will be pulled into the tunnel.

3. Lube Up Your Breast Sheilds

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Dr. Sears noted a well-kept secret to making your pumping more comfortable: use a little bit of lotion or lanolin ($9) to "lube" your breast shields or applying it directly to your nipple before pumping. This will prevent excess rubbing and chaffing.

4. Go Hands-Free

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Investing in a hands-free pumping bra ($14) will work wonders on your arms and back and allow you to actually do something other than hold the pump, even talk on the phone while striking an effortless pose.

5. Have A Routine

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Whether you're pumping at work, occasionally at home, or exclusively pumping, setting a consistent pumping schedule is a great idea, according to Exclusive Pumping (a resource that has a great sample pumping schedule as well). A schedule will save you from the pain of engorgement and help your body (and your baby) get into a groove.

6. Massage Before You Pump

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Start off by massaging your breasts for at least a few minutes before sitting down to pump. This will minimize the time before let-down happens and make sure that your milk flows quicker and more effectively. Dr. Sears recommended starting at the armpit and work your way down in small circles to improve circulation.

7. Use A Lower Suction Setting

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If you're experiencing pain or discomfort during pumping, its possible that you're setting your pump's suction setting too high. Ameda noted that you should feel pulling, but not pain. Your pump should be at the highest comfortable setting to express the most milk.

8. Create A Relaxing Pumping Environment

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La Leche League International recommended staying as relaxed as possible while pumping. Whether you need to play calming music, display a photo of your baby, turn down the lights, or grab a warm blanket, creating a relaxing environment will help your milk drop sooner and keep you from tensing up, which inhibits your milk flow.

9. Lean Forward While You Pump

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Leaning forward a bit (comfortably so) while you pump helps gravity do its job and will prevent it from pooling up in the breast shields instead of flowing down into the bottle.