Three mistakes you are probably making with your breast pump

--Alex

Chances are, you don't love using your breast pump. 

We know this, because our research shows that for every ten women using a breast pump, seven have pain or discomfort, and eight feel like a cow. 

No woman wants to feel like a cow, but we put up with it, because breast pumps are really useful.

They help us feed our babies if they're having trouble feeding, they give us confidence with milk supply, they can give us time out by storing a feed or sharing that feed with our partners. 

The problem is that breast pumps are not always intuitive to use, especially if it's the first time you've come across them. 

If you get it wrong, you can end up frustrated or worse, in discomfort or pain. The biggest myth about breast pumps is that we must endure this discomfort or pain, for them to work. 

Here are the most common mistakes we see, and how to avoid them. 

1. Putting suction up too high.

It makes sense, right? I want more milk, I select the highest suction. Sadly, not so. We know women will bear an enormous amount of stretching, pain and tugging at the nipple to try to draw out milk to feed their baby. Unfortunately, this can end up with damage, and doesn't necessarily get you more milk. Better to start with lower pump suction settings, try to relax (we know that's hard), and do a bit of hand massage while you pump to get milk started. 

2. Using the wrong flange size.

This has got the be the MOST confusing part of breast pumps. Flange size refers to the size of the hole that your nipple goes into. Most pumps come with a standard size of around 24mm. There's not much published research out there on nipple size (specifically nipple diameter), so we've collected our own. We've found that nipple diameter is really very different across women. We've measured nipples all the way from 8mm to 30mm wide, with most measuring around 15mm. What does this mean? Well, it's important to try some different sizes to get the right fit for you. You can read more on flange sizing here

3. You wouldn't throw out the cot, just because the mattress cover needed changing

We've heard from a few women that they were going to replace their entire pump for a new baby. It may be possible that they need to, but it's more likely that you just need to replace the valve (those little silicone thingies that fit just above the bottle on your pump), not the entire pump. Try that first before you blow $400 on a new one! 

There you have it. Three mistakes to avoid. 

Of course, there's more you can do to make pumping more comfortable (which is why we started Milkdrop in the first place), but we're biased, so we'll pop this little plug in here about our breast pump cushions, and leave it at that. x