How to Optimize Your Pumping Sessions with Hands-On Pumping

How to Optimize Your Pumping Sessions with Hands-On Pumping

Getting the most out of each pumping session is a very common and real concern for breastfeeding mothers. Not only is it important to be able to provide adequate amounts of milk for your baby, but less than optimal expression may also lead to discomfort for the mom. Using hands-on pumping is a breast massage technique that may help optimize milk output during each pumping session.  

According to a groundbreaking study by Jane Morton, mothers who implemented gentle massage into their pump sessions were able to remove up to 48% more milk than when relying on the breast pump alone. This same study also showed that mothers of premature babies were able to steadily increase milk production when hands-on pumping was used. This is a change from previous studies, which showed that milk production in mothers of preemies often decreased after 3 to 4 weeks.  

How to do Hands-on Pumping:

  1. Before you pump, gently massage both breasts.
  2. Double pump, gently compressing both breasts as much as you can while pumping (a hands-free pump bra will come in really handy here) until the milk slows to a trickle.
  3. Massage both breasts again, really concentrating on any areas that feel full
  4. Finish with hand expression OR single pumping each side, until you feel you have removed all milk possible. This may require switching breasts multiple times.


The study referenced above found that this took about 25 minutes each pump session.  

Hands-on pumping, as well as making sure your flanges fit properly, being comfortable with your pump settings, and pumping on a regular schedule will all help to ensure that you are effectively removing the milk your baby needs. Remember that your baby just needs about 1-1.5 oz per hour that you are away. Optimizing each pump session, along with paced bottle feeding, will help ensure that you keep up with your little one's needs as they grow.    


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