As a new mum, feeling comfortable is key, particularly in those first few months, which is why finding the best breast pump and best position for breast pumping is essential for both you and your baby. After all, the more comfortable and easy you find breast pumping, the more milk you should express.
Once you find the right position and choose the right breast pump for you, expressing should feel effortless and easy and hopefully take up less of your time.
To help you find the best position for breast pumping, we've rounded up some of the most popular positions mums love for you to have a go at.
Best body position for breast pumping
When positioning your body ready for breast pumping, it's all about good posture and avoiding any hunching over. Start by sitting upright with your shoulders back (you might find giving them a bit of a roll will help loosen them up), back straight, arms relaxed on a pillow or arm rest and feet flat on the floor.
Things like breastfeeding pillows or pregnancy pillows can help provide extra support for your arms and lower back while pumping. Once you feel fully comfortable and relaxed in this position and know exactly how to use the breast pump, you can begin the breast pumping process. This position works well for any kind of pump whether it's an electric breast pump or a manual breast pump.
Finding the best position for breast pumping after a c-section
Many mums find breastfeeding too painful during the early recovery stages after a c-section, as it can be hard to find a breastfeeding position where both you and baby feel comfortable which is why many mums resort to pumping at first. Sitting up straight can be rather uncomfortable after a c-section, particularly in the first few weeks so the above breast pumping position may not be suited to you during recovery.
Instead of sitting up straight, sit in a reclined position using the support of pillows to get yourself into a comfortable position. This could be in your bed or on a sofa where you can lay your top half back slightly. Your body will need to feel fully relaxed and calm in order to respond well to breast pumping so take your time finding a comfortable position for you and make sure no parts of the pump are coming into contact with your incision site or irritating your healing wounds.
Best position for hands free pumping
Hands free breast pumping is the way forward for many mamas. Particularly in those moments when you need to get things done while you pump or you have young children on your hands you need to run around after. Thankfully, there are many clever breast pumping bras on the market that make hands free breast pumping easy as well as hands free breast pumps that slip inside your bra.
If you don't have the budget for one of these specially designed bras, you can actually make a DIY version yourself with an old sports bra you don't mind cutting up a little. Simply cut a hole that's only just large enough for the smaller end of the flange to fit through before connecting to the bottle or milk catcher is a real cost-effective option. As long as it can provide enough support to hold the weight of the bottle.
Different techniques for pumping
Whether you're struggling to get to grips with pumping or you want to get the most out of each session, here are some techniques and tricks to help you on your way.
• Double pumping – starting off your pumping journey using a double pump rather than a single is essential when you're starting out to express the most amount of milk. It'll also help your body produce more prolactin.
• Start early – research shows that expressing within the first few hours of birth helps new mums produce a higher amount of breastmilk in the early days and weeks.
• Pump and breastfeed – if you're pumping and breastfeeding, many mums find they produce most milk when they pump on one breast and feed on the other simultaneously.
• Maintain good hygiene – wash your hands before and after pumping and sanitise any parts of the pump that have been in contact with your body, milk or baby's mouth once per day.
• Do things to help stimulate milk flow – things like massaging your breasts before and during pumping and applying a warm compress to your breasts before expressing can help stimulate your milk flow.
• Don't ignore discomfort – if you feel any discomfort or see any chafing or blisters know this isn't normal. Reduce the breast pump suction and make sure you're using the right sized breast shield. The shield should closely surround your nipple while leaving enough room for your nipple to move back and forth.
It's also worth mentioning the technique of power pumping. This is a particularly effective technique in the first few months to help increase your milk supply. It's designed to mimic cluster feeding in an attempt to encourage your body to produce more milk.
Breast pumping modes
It's important to really get to know the workings of your pump before you begin and have a thorough read of the user manual before baby is born.
Most breast pumps have two different modes:
Letdown – more of a massage setting designed to be used at the start of your pumping session to encourage milk flow.
Expression – this kicks in after let down and removes as much milk as possible from your breasts.
Once expressing, most electric pumps allow you to change the vacuum strength (how strong the pump pulls) and cycle speed (how frequently the pump pulls).
While you might think you will produce more milk on the expression setting with the highest vacuum and frequency setting, for many mums, this isn't the case. Finding the right setting for you really is a case of trial and error, just make sure it doesn't feel uncomfortable or painful as this means the settings are too high which could hinder how much milk you express so decrease it until it feels comfortable.
Lorna White has been a Digital Writer for Mother&Baby since 2020. She has a keen interest in a range of topics, from potty training and nutrition to baby names and maternity fashion.