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How To Survive Your First Pumping Session, As It's No Picnic

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Your first time using a breast pump can be a little bit intimidating. Regardless of whether you've mastered the art of breastfeeding your baby or are still struggling to get a good latch, introducing a breast pump is another animal entirely. Don't get me wrong, breast pumps are incredible gadgets that can make your life as a nursing mom 100 times easier. But getting the hang of using one can be tricky to say the least. If you're worried about how to survive your first pumping session, you're not alone. They're far from being as cute as your baby and can be pretty, well, mechanical. Never fear though, because with a few tips up your sleeve you'll master pumping in no time.

Hooking yourself up to a machine to do something as natural as produce breast milk can seem a bit scary, but once you get the hang of it, it will be second nature. These tips are helpful for first-time pumpers and veterans alike, although keeping them in mind the first time around will save you lots of frustration in the long run.

Some of these pointers might seem intuitive, but most of them you might not have even considered. They'll help your milk flow easier and before long, you too will be a breast pump master.

1Take A Deep Breath

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More than just preparing for an unpleasant experience, taking a deep breath or two before pumping is huge for increasing the amount you'll be able to pump and for encouraging your letdown reflex. BreastfeedingUSA noted the importance of relaxation for moms who pump — if you're tense, you won't produce as much milk and you might not even be able to express any.

2Think About Your Baby

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A great way to encourage your letdown reflex is to think about your little bundle of joy. According to Very Well, the letdown reflex is what triggers your milk to release from the ducts. It is caused by your brain producing the breastfeeding hormones prolactin and oxytocin. When you're breastfeeding, your baby suckling triggers the release of these hormones, but with a pump it can be harder to simulate. Picture your baby in your mind or look at an actual photo and your letdown reflex will be much quicker and more effective.

3Hand Express First

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La Leche League International noted that hand expressing before pumping can help with your letdown reflex and is less "mechanical" than pumping to encourage letdown. Not sure how to start? Check out a quick tutorial on how to hand express your milk.

4Use A High Quality Pump If You Can

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Using a hospital grade pump is the easiest way to ensure you'll pump the most milk. Manual pumps are great for travel, but when you need to pump regularly, investing in a high quality hospital grade pump is your best bet.

5Don't Worry About Quantity Yet

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Kids Health noted that it may take a while to get the hang of producing breast milk without your baby's help. Be patient with yourself and don't expect to fill a bottle on the first (or second or third) session.