This article is updated from the original 2015 post.
When it’s time to go back to work or leave your baby with a caregiver this is when you need a stored supply of breastmilk on hand. This means it’s time to pump. But what do you do when you can’t get your milk to “let down” for a machine. The Milk Ejection Reflex or “Let down” can be difficult when not prompted by your infant. Pumping certainly isn’t the bonding moment you’re used to when nursing your baby. Your body knows that this is not your baby and your breast won’t give up the liquid gold. It’s frustrating to pump and only get trickles of milk. Don’t panic. The stress will make it harder. Relax and try these tips from the pros over at La Leche League International.
1. Check Your Pump
Maybe it’s not you at all. Maybe you have the wrong breast pump brand for your needs. Make an appointment with a Certified Lactation Consultant to make sure you’re using a Hospital Grade Pump. You don’t have to purchase one. You can rent one. Usually you can get a breast pump through insurance, just call them to check. For some nursing moms a manual hand pump works best. There’s no sound or whirling from an electric breast pump and mom is in control of the timing. This can make it easier to simulate the suckle of your baby and maximize your output. There's no best breast pump that is one size fits all.
2. Pump While Nursing
If you have the right pump and you’re still having trouble, try pumping while the baby is nursing. If you nurse your baby on one side while you pump on the other then you may be more successful at correlating the pumping with the love for your child later when the child is absent. The hormone oxytocin is responsible for the let down. This is the “love” hormone in charge to strengthen the bond with your child or your spouse and even your beloved pet. This is why many women experience Let down when another baby cries or during sexual stimulation. The same love hormone is in charge. Pumping simultaneously may help start a successful pumping regimen.
3. Get Emotional
When it is time to pump at work or in the absence of your child be prepared with items to trigger those bonding feelings of love. A photo of your baby or a receiving blanket that smells like your baby may be just the thing you need to help trigger the oxytocin and for your body to relax and give milk, knowing it’s for your baby and not just the machine.
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Bonnie Jean Feldkamp
Is a writer and mother of two. If you liked this posting please follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook .
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