Tips for Using a Breast Pump

breast pump and baby
Getty / Jamie Grill

Using a breast pump creates love-hate feelings in lots of moms. One one hand, breast pumps allow you to continue feeding your baby breastmilk even after you're back at work or if you cannot breastfeed directly. On the other hand, hooking yourself up to a machine for several minutes several times a day isn't that much fun, and can be frustrating. It may seem impossible to make your time with the breast pump more enjoyable and effective, but these tips are tried and true from veteran nursing and pumping moms.

Use a Good Pump

If you'll be pumping milk regularly, invest in a good quality double electric breast pump. A pump with a durable, powerful motor will help you collect the maximum amount of milk. Better quality pumps have special speed and suction patterns to mimic baby's sucking to stimulate milk let-down, and they can be adjusted to get the perfect speed and suction for your comfort.

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.


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.

Use a Pumping Bra

There are several companies that make hands-free pumping bras or bustiers. Some can be worn as a regular nursing bra, and others fit over the top of your nursing bra when you're ready to pump. When you use a hands-free bra, you are able to do other tasks while you're pumping. You can work at your computer, read a magazine, or any other low-key seated activity. Using one of these bras may even help you relax, since you can take your mind off the pumping by working on something else.

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.