It may seem impossible to make a breast pump feel more like your baby does during nursing, but there are a few ways to better mimic your baby's suckling and maximize your time with the breast pump.
- Lubricate the Breast Pump Horns. Use a very small amount of lanolin cream or vegetable oil to moisten the inside of the breast pump horns. This minimizes the friction of the breast against the plastic horns, reducing chafing, and also helps the pump draw in more of the breast, just like baby's mouth does.
- Pump Both Breasts At Once. You may have noticed that when pumping or breastfeeding on one side, the other breast lets down a bit of milk. Capitalize on that milk letdown by pumping both breasts at once, which increases the milk-making hormones in your body, possibly allowing you to pump more milk than you would when pumping each breast separately.
- Keep Baby's Sight and Smell Close. If you're away from baby while using your breast pump, keep a picture of your baby with your breast pump, and take along a blanket or item of clothing that your baby has used. The sight and smell of your baby will help trigger the hormones responsible for milk letdown.
- Lean Forward When Using the Breast Pump. Let gravity assist you as you pump your breast milk. Lean forward so that your milk flows easily into the breast pump horns and bottles. This will minimize the amount of milk that backs up around the horns and is wasted.
- Relax. Sure, it's sometimes hard to relax for a breast pump, with its noises and plastic parts, but taking the time to create a calm pumping environment will help you produce more breast milk. Lower the lights if possible, sit in a comfortable chair, light a candle and play some soothing music to simulate the relaxation you feel when you snuggle close to your baby.
- Keep A Breast Pump Schedule. If you're using a breast pump at work or pumping exclusively, stick to a schedule to help your body recognize when it's time to make and let down milk. The more regular you are about your breast pump schedule, the more milk you'll let down for the breast pump.