Self-Care Routines for the Breast Pumping & Breastfeeding Mother
Pumping does not need to feel like a chore or another job. In fact, for many mothers who have a unique system in place, pumping sessions can actually be a highlight of the day. Finding ways to make using your breast pump and your overall pumping schedule more efficient, effective, and enjoyable will make an incredible difference! Plan ahead with these ideas, and escape to your next pumping session with ease and relaxation.
Top Tips for Your Breast Pumping Routine
- Water Bottles
- Hand-held Snacks
- Classical Music
- Candles & Diffusing Essential Oils
- Pumping Station with Comfort & Ambience
It's no secret that breastfeeding and breast pumping women tend to get what is referred to as, “cotton mouth,” the moment they sit down to breastfeed or express their breast milk. Whether it's pumping with a double electric pump, hand expression, or a nursing session with your little one, countless times we get situated for the task at hand, only to remember what we forgot: our water. (It's especially vital if you're planning on power pumping or exclusive pumping!)
Having a designated, reusable water bottle that not only quenches our thirst, but reminds us to drink enough throughout the day is a great way to make your pumping routine more comfortable. Their lids help prevent spills when finagling with our pumping setup. Aim for 8-10 cups of water everyday. Having an adequate amount of water will keep you hydrated and can help your milk supply.
Hand-Held SnackA cute basket beside your favorite area to pump is a great idea. Depending on how long your pumping session is, it may be one of very few breaks you get from the rest of your day. Taking time to refuel will help you conquer all of the remaining tasks at hand, as well as helping to meet your caloric and nutritional goals for a lactating woman. It is recommended to have on average 300-500 additional calories a day when breastfeeding or pumping, and this can easily be achieved by adding 2-3 snacks each day!Classical MusicMany of us play on our phones to relax and unplug. Books are nice, too, but generally hard to handle while pumping. Listening to music is proven to excite, relax or trigger the human brain. A particular song may encourage a happy mood, or even a crying session.Oxytocin, the hormone responsible for the surge of happy and glowy emotional states, is also responsible for contracting the tissues in the breast that store milk. This is known as the “letdown response” or the milk-ejection reflex (MER). Studies have shown that many women have complications responding to pumps¹, as they are simply not our babies, which certainly trigger the oxytocin response. However, other studies have reported that women who listen to music, particularly classical, have not only a better response to their pump, but report significantly higher output rates². So plug in those headphones the next time you sit down to pump! Candles and Diffusing Essential Oils
The olfactory system, the sense of smell, is remarkably connected to many aspects of our being, regardless if we always notice. Creating a space that smells pleasant helps to relax the mind³. Relaxation is quite crucial to an optimal output of milk. Simply having the visual of a diffuser or glow of a candle sets the tone, making it feel special and enjoyable.
Speaking of smells, for bonus points, a blanket or onesie that smells like your baby⁴ is a fantastic commodity to have on hand, as you take time to visualize your baby, your milk flow, and your purpose during this moment. Be sure to ask your lactation consultant about any advice they may have for candles and essential oils they recommend to breastfeeding and breast pumping moms!
Pumping Station AmbienceCreate your space. This is the special place that you sit and pump breast milk, uniquely made for your baby. Regardless of the time of day that you're pumping, whether it's first thing in the morning or the middle of the night, a favorite chair, comfy socks or a blanket, a nice comfortable pumping bra, your favorite pumping accessories, and dim lighting will do wonders for the overall experience and longevity of the amount of time of your pumping session, helping to reach long-term goals with your pumping schedule and building that freezer stash.
In other words, creating almost a ritual of sorts can set up for a nice pumping experience. Planning ahead can really change the entire perspective. Lighting a favorite candle, enjoying a yummy snack or cool drink of water, soft music playing, all while taking time to sit and express milk for your baby sounds remarkably better than treating pumping like a chore. Not only will this change of pace make pumping more enjoyable and feasible, but it may even make us excited to have the “me” time we so long for.
Having a comfortable and organized station can also help you forget about some of the stressors that some moms experience with pumping - whether it's concerns about breast milk supply or milk production, an organized and comfortable pumping station made just for you will help you focus on yourself and your baby needs in a more relaxing manner! With an ambient pumping station, there's no more having to look for your flanges, find proper lighting, or track down other must-haves for your pumping session!
Want more advice on how to have a great pumping session every time? Be sure to reach out to a lactation consultant, IBCLC, or your healthcare provider for additional information and tips! Happy pumping!
- Keim SA, Boone KM, Oza-Frank R, Geraghty SR. Pumping Milk Without Ever Feeding at the Breast in the Moms2Moms Study. Breastfeed Med. 2017;12(7):422-429. doi:10.1089/bfm.2017.0025
- Ak J, Lakshmanagowda PB, G C M P, Goturu J. Impact of music therapy on breast milk secretion in mothers of premature newborns. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015;9(4):CC04-CC6. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2015/11642.5776
- Krusemark EA, Novak LR, Gitelman DR, Li W. When the sense of smell meets emotion: anxiety-state-dependent olfactory processing and neural circuitry adaptation. J Neurosci. 2013;33(39):15324-15332. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1835-13.2013
- Moore ER, Bergman N, Anderson GC, Medley N. Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;11(11):CD003519. Published 2016 Nov 25. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003519.pub4