Struggling to express? Here’s how to pump breast milk easier

I struggled to express milk. I was fortunate that for the most part breastfeeding was a pretty straightforward experience for me, but I was never able to get much milk when I pumped. In the super small window of time between feeding my baby and trying to get said baby to sleep; pumping milk was always the last thing I felt like doing.

At the same time though, I craved the feeling of freedom that a freezer full of milk gave me. I needed it there so that going out for a walk or a yoga class was at least a possibility. To be fair, these weren’t things that I did often while breastfeeding, but for my own sanity I needed them to at least be an option.

Whether you’re pumping because you need to work, to increase your supply, or you have a social event that you need to have a milk stash for; here are a few ways to make expressing milk easier.

pump breast milk easier

How to pump breast milk easier

Encourage an oxytocin release

Your body needs to release the hormone oxytocin to release milk. No amount of pumping will pull milk from your breasts if you don’t have this love hormone pumping. (This is why breastfeeding is often easier than pumping because it naturally stimulates oxytocin.)

There are a number of ways to encourage oxytocin.

+ Have a warm shower or bath

+ Cuddle your baby or look at pictures or videos of them

+ Skin to skin contact

+ Practise self-massage

+ Intimate touch, sex and orgasm all release oxytocin

Get comfortable

While you might be tempted to just ‘get in and get it done’, it’s worth taking the time to make yourself physically comfortable before you pump. This will help you to relax and further help oxytocin and your milk to flow.

+ Choose a chair that is comfortable and use cushions to support your back.

+ Pump in a place that is private and you can relax knowing no one will interrupt you (IE. don’t do what I did and try to pump in front of your 3 year old. They ask incessant questions and it really doesn’t create a relaxing vibe).

+ Play relaxing music

+ Light a candle or diffuse essential oils. (It might seem unnecessary but it can really help to start setting up sensory cues to tell your body to relax).

Use meditations and visualisation

Meditations and visualisations can be used to help you relax and to encourage oxytocin flow as you think about your baby. I created this one especially for pumping after one of my Online Yoga Circle members requested it.

Be conscious of your thoughts about pumping

A lot of the women I work with have strong negative thoughts about pumping.

“I can’t get any milk when I pump”

“I’m not good at pumping”.

“Pumping isn’t worth the time.”

“I don’t produce much milk because I only get the tiniest amount when I pump.”

I am definitely guilty of thinking this way. If you want to pump breast milk easier you have to make a conscious choice to change how you think about it. If you think pumping is a horrible, uncomfortable experience, it will always feel like this. Instead, if you reframe and focus on what you want – “I am relaxed. I pump with ease.” You are more likely to get the experience that you want.

One final thought

When I was trying to express with my first baby and it wasn’t working, I thought maybe there was something wrong with me. I didn’t talk to anyone about it because I felt like everyone else knew how to do it “properly”. It’s only now, years into motherhood, that I realised many women struggle with pumping.

Like so many aspects of motherhood that we may struggle with – reach out. Don’t feel like you have to struggle through it alone. The chances are you’re not the only one who is having a hard time. There is nothing wrong with you. You’re doing a great job.

Other helpful resources

Still need more help? The following articles have some more great advice.

Power pump your way to more milk by The Milk Meg

Pumping shouldn’t hurt – advice for those who find it does

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