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How to Reduce Pumping Anxiety

10 ways to stress less while you’re making milk for baby.

How to Reduce Pumping Anxiety

*We’ve partnered with Lansinoh to help you make the most of your breast-pumping time.

There are a lot of things we could be stressed about after bringing our little bundle of joy home, but pumping shouldn’t be one of them. We’ve all heard it: relax and the milk will flow. But how do you unwind with a set of vacuums stuck to your boobs? We’ve teamed up with Lansinoh and rounded up the most impressive breastfeeding and pumping pros we know to give you 10 tips on how to reduce pumping anxiety and get the absolute most out of the time you spend hooked up.

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1. Unplug from work. As hard as it may seem. I personally found that 15 minutes watching videos of my baby on my iPhone was more productive than 40 minutes strapped to a pump while answering emails. And when I was researching my book, I talked to a woman who used to watch old episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix while crouched on a box in the supply closet of her office. (She got over her guilt about watching TV by looking around at her luxurious surroundings.) Allyson Downey, founder of weespring.com and author of Here’s the Plan.

2. Smell something nice. I keep a little lavender pillow in my bed, and I have a Pavlovian-like relaxation response when I'm around it. Lavender reminds me of the feeling after nursing my little one in the middle of the night, and then getting to roll over for a few more delicious hours of sleep (well...sometimes....). I accidentally ended up with a lavender sachet in my pumping bag one day and found that the subtle scent did me a world of good. I'd close my eyes and the smelly gym locker room I was pumping in (ALMOST) faded away. From then on in it became part of my pumping routine.. Katinka Locascio, Doula, herbalist & founder of Earth & Sky Healing Arts

3. Set the scene. Not all pumping environments are created equal (take the bathroom stall for example). If you are able to customize your “pump station” to set a relaxing tone, your milk supply will thank you. Prepare a cup of tea and keep a stack of your favorite magazines or a racy book handy. If you allow yourself to indulge in something you otherwise wouldn’t have time for, then you will stop dreading your pump sessions—creating a more positive experience and letting the milk flow like wine. Morgan Hutchinson, founder of Shopburu.com for best breastfeeding-friendly fashion

4. For a good supply, keep baby at the breast. Baby is generally going to be the best way to teach your body how much milk to make and to establish your supply. Well-intentioned family and friends may pressure you to let them feed the baby but it is important, especially in the first month at least, to have baby at the breast so baby can trigger the natural actions for breastmilk supply and demand. If you and baby will be apart or someone else does feed baby, pump ahead of time so your baby can have your expressed breastmilk versus using formula if possible so your baby can continue to get the benefits of your breast milk even if not at the breast. When baby is at the breast, he’ll trigger milk let-down and remove milk based on his needs. In response, your body will refill what has been removed. This is supply and demand. If for any reason you need to have someone else feed baby be sure to pump or hand express at that time so your body gets the needed stimulation it needs to keep making milk. Gina Cicatelli Ciagne, CLC, Lansinoh VP Healthcare Marketing and Media Spokesperson.

5. Don't start regular pumping too early! The early days of breastfeeding are all about building just the right milk supply for your baby. Many women begin pumping too early and then overproduce milk. Unless there is a clinical reason to do so, most moms should wait until breastfeeding is well established (usually 2-4 weeks) before introducing a bottle. There's no reason to begin pumping until you're getting close to that first bottle introduction. Jada Shapiro, doula, lactation expert and founder of Birth Day Presence and Boober, an on-demand lactation service.

6. Google and learn about "hands-on pumping." It's basically going to second base with yourself while you pump. It can help you produce more milk per session, which is also going to help you relax. Jessica Shortall, author of Work, Pump, Repeat.

7. A great way to get your milk flowing is to remind your body why you are doing this. Keep a picture of your little one with your pump, or flip through photos and watch a video of your baby on your phone. Many moms swear by listening to a recording of their baby crying when they pump. Figure out what works best for you, and then go with it. A little-known benefit of focusing on your baby while you pump is that you are not focusing on the other dozen things you should be doing. Reducing stress will help you get the most out of your pumping session. Amanda Cole, founder of breastfeeding shop Yummy Mummy

8. Connect with other moms. A few times I pumped, I had friends in the room and it made me laugh and pump with ease. While that wasn't possible at work, I still sought out other moms online who could relate. It's why I created Pumpspotting, actually, so more moms could be with other people pumping and share needed laughs and tips. Amy VanHaren, founder of Pumpspotting app

9. Plan on not washing your pump parts. Keep a ziploc bag (or a small, opaque cooler bag, if you use a shared fridge at work) handy, throw in your pump parts, unwashed, and put the whole thing in the fridge after each pumping session. It'll save you valuable clean-up time, which can help you be less stressed about getting it done. Jessica Shortall, author of Work, Pump, Repeat.

10. Don’t be a clock watcher! Establishing a good supply early on is key to increased breast milk production when you’re pumping later on. During early feedings, you should be watching your baby for their feeding cues -- not the clock. There is no specific time period that you should let your baby nurse for at any given nursing session, and there is no magical time you should strive for in between feedings. Babies don’t know how to tell time---their tummies tell them when they are ready to eat and it will be very often in the beginning. Watch for cues like sucking on fingers, smacking lips or rooting, and respond to them by offering them the breast. Let baby nurse on the first side as long as they want, and when they pause and seem done, burp them and then offer the second breast. It is impossible to spoil a baby and every feeding teaches your body how much milk to make based on how much baby removes. Gina Cicatelli Ciagne, CLC, Lansinoh VP Healthcare Marketing and Media Spokesperson.

*This post was sponsored by Lansinoh. Join Lansinoh's Moms' Club for more breastfeeding news, tips and offers here.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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