Breast Pumping Tips For First Time Mothers

If you are like most moms you will probably find that pumping milk for your baby takes some practice, experimentation, and patience. Give yourself some time to learn by starting to practice with your breast pump about two weeks before you need to return to work. Here are my breast pumping tips for first-time mothers.

Do Not panic if you only get a little milk the first time. That’s why you are practicing. The key to removing milk is learning to stimulate the milk release or let down reflex. You may experience this as a tightening or tingling or you might feel nothing. I will include more tips for encouraging the milk release later on but start with what I have found to work well in the hospital with moms who are suddenly and expectantly separated from their baby.

Breast Pumping Tips For First Time Mothers

Begin by setting your breast pump at the fastest cycle setting and set the suction setting to just before the point where it becomes uncomfortable. Now that you are all situated and your pump is ready to go, begin by lightly massaging the areola with your fingertips. Just make circles. Then roll or tug at your nipples a little with your thumb and index finger. Stimulation of the skin of the nipple and areola gets the hormones flowing similar to when your baby nurses. When you feel a tightening or tingling in your breasts, or notice milk dripping, center the pump flanges on your nipple and turn on the pump. After a couple of minutes of nipple massage if you haven’t noticed anything go ahead and start pumping.

Once the milk flow slows to drops, return to the nipple stimulation to stimulate a second milk release or just try pumping at the rapid cycle setting until milk begins to flow more rapidly again. Remember you are practicing and experimenting with what works well for you.


The more frequently you empty your breasts, the more milk you will make. During your practice weeks, experiment a bit. Try a couple hours after a feeding. Also, if your baby nurses well and you can manage it, try pumping one side while the baby nurses on the other. This is a great way to see the milk release in action. Many mothers notice how strong the milk release is when the baby nurses.

Once you return to work, try to maintain the same number of times that you normally empty your breasts. If you usually nurse 9 times a day trying to maintain that number including pumping and nursing. Nurse the first thing in the morning and again just before you leave daycare. Offer your breasts again when you pick your little one up. Having your daycare close to work will decrease the time you are away and make it easier to nurse more and pump less. If your baby gets hungry just before you are due to pick him up, ask your care provider to give just the minimum amount.

Keep your baby close to you at night to encourage hassle free night nursing. Most babies as they get older have one or two longer periods without nursing. These are usually at night but many working moms find making these periods the daycare time works well and relieves some stress about supply and pumping.

Nursing hormones are highest at night. Probably an indicator that our babies were meant to nurse at night.


A high quality double electric breast pump with dual settings for cycle speed and suction strength is essential. Some personal pumps loose strength gradually and if this is your second baby and you see your supply dwindling consider a new breast pump. Continue emptying your breasts the same number of times per day as you did during your maternity leave. (Read the section on when to pump.) Remember empty breasts signal your body to make more milk. Full feeling breasts send a make less milk signal. Every mom’s storage capacity is different. So pay attention to how your breasts feel. Many babies will love to nurse leisurely during the evening. This is a great way to connect with your baby, reduce his/her stress from the day and maintain your supply at the same time.

One word of caution with milk supply. Please do not neglect your diet. You need a good breakfast and lunch with plenty of calories and protein. Take healthy snacks to work to munch on while you are pumping. From my experience with mom’s, donors to the San Francisco Mother’s Milk bank and as a La Leche Leader, busy mom’s tend to neglect their diet and the amount of milk we make suffers. We were not meant to consume the bulk of our nutrition in one meal in the evening and it doesn’t work well with breastfeeding.


Feeding amounts varies from baby to baby and with age. A newborn will take about 1-2 ounces. By the second month, a typical feeding is about 3 to 4 ounces. Babies frequently take more from a bottle just because it comes faster and they want to suck. Make sure you are using the smallest nipple flow rate possible. This will help prevent overfeeding.


Yes, Fenugreek seems to be a popular home remedy that works for a lot of moms!  (See it here)

Recommended Dose. The recommended dose of fenugreek for the purpose ofincreasing breast milk supply needs to be at least 3,500 mg per day, according to Bonyata; otherwise, it will have little to no effect. In capsule form, 3,500 mg equates to about six capsules daily.



Watch my Articles section for more detailed information. If you are unsure if you have the right breast pump read the top of the section in Best Breast Pump Gear and Choosing the Right Size Breast Pumping Flange.



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