Whoever said breastfeeding will come naturally was clearly never hooked up to a breast pump. Although pumps are incredibly convenient and allow moms to produce milk for their baby even when they're away, using a pump can take a while to get used to. I mean, it's a pretty safe assumption that until you start breastfeeding, you've never been hooked up to a mechanical device designed to expel liquid from your boobs. Beautiful imagery aside, if you're struggling to use your pump, there is one pumping hack that will get your milk flowing that you absolutely must know.
Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with the type of pump you buy (although most experts recommend using an electric hospital grade hands-free pump). It has nothing to do with whether you exclusively pump or only pump as needed. It has nothing to do with the age of your child or how experienced you are. This tip is so simple that you can start doing it now and see an improved milk flow.
It's simply this: massage your breasts.
Rocket science, I know. But according to La Leche League, one of the leading experts and resources for breastfeeding, massaging your breasts is a great way to not only get the milk flowing before a feeding or pumping session, but may also help to increase your supply. It sounds almost too simple, right?
There is one catch though. You have to pick the right technique. La Leche League recommends similar technique to performing a self-exam on your breasts. The method is also called the M-S-S technique, or the Massage-Stroke-Shake technique.
Start by pumping both breasts at once, as this will help you express the highest amount. Pump for about five minutes, then stop. Massage your breasts in a circular motion. The stroke in one motion from your chest wall down to the nipple. Finally, lean forward and gently shake, letting gravity do its thing. Then continue pumping. Repeat this process as many times as needed.
The science behind the technique is simple— massaging your breasts, according to Breastfeeding Problems, opens up the ducts inside them causing the milk to flow easier, triggering a higher milk production.
Next time you’re hooked up to your pump, take a few minutes and massage, and watch as the milk flows free. (Yes, I felt as weird saying that as you did reading it.)