What’s Hands-on Pumping and Why You Should Empty your Breasts while Pumping?

Pumping is serious business, and breastfeeding moms often wonder, “How can we make this more bearable or more efficient?”

A quick search will lead you to find instructions on hands on pumping to increase your milk production and/or cut down on the tedious job of pumping. 

But, what exactly is hands on pumping and why should we do it?

Hands-on pumping is when you use your hands to gently massage your breasts and simultaneously pump. You may be wondering how to do that while wearing a pumping bra AND wearing a pump! A great way to begin is to hold the flanges and massage the breasts with your thumbs – a strategy I share often when counseling pumping moms.

Hands on pumping will not only assist in having optimal milk production and increased production for someone struggling with output, but is also recommended for:

  • A mother of an infant or child who has been hospitalized and breastfeeding isn’t possible, such as a premature baby in NICU
  • Going back to work and having to pump when away from baby 
  • Decreased time spent pumping 
  • Any exclusively pumping mom 

Hands-on pumping helps increase your production of milk because it assists with “emptying” your breasts more fully. While breasts are never truly empty, the way we tell our bodies to produce more milk is by taking milk out. In this process, we send a message to our bodies to put in the order for more milk. This is why making the best of your pumping sessions is important, which is why lactation consultants often recommend this technique. 

Additional tips for better results in “emptying” your breasts include:

  • Ensuring that you have a good electric pump if possible
  • Double pumping (pumping both breasts at the same time)
  • Making sure you have a new pump and/or replacing pumping parts to ensure best suction
  • Pumping at least 8 times per 24 hours 
  • Pumping for approximately 15-20min, even when milk stops flowing or spraying 
  • Applying moist warm compresses to breasts before pumping may yield better results 
  • If using a pumping bra, ensuring it’s the right fit- you don’t want something that is too tight and restricts the milk flowing 

In addition to impacting milk production, consistent stimulation and removal of milk is also important for good breast care. The frequency of milk removal along with gently massaging the breasts will help prevent clogged ducts and mastitis. 

So, let’s get massaging while pumping! 

Talk to your lactation consultant on how hands on pumping or using a tool like the Nurture Breast Massager can help since it  does the work for you and allows you to remain hands free –  a game changer on your pumping journey! 

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