With every new baby comes another new lesson, and expressing is a technique that is learned, not something that will necessarily come easily to all new mums.
At Ardo, when it comes to successful expressing, we believe in the three Ps – Positive Emotions, Perform Massage, Professional Breastpump.
Before you even begin to pump, it is very important that you are in the right headspace – positive emotions are essential mummies! In order for the milk to flow, your body needs to produce that amazing hormone – Oxytocin. Feeling stress, anxiety and tension will inhibit the release of Oxytocin, which will then affect the milk ejection reflex – otherwise known as the let-down reflex.
Some suggestions to trigger those positive emotions are skin-to-skin contact with your baby, or if they can’t be with you, then keep a photo or video of them handy to look at, and you might try listening to some music – but the main thing is to relax and not to stare at the breastpump.
The let-down reflex is what allows your milk to flow. The Oxytocin causes the little muscles around your milk ducts and glands to contract, which then flows the milk from the breast. You may feel this as a tingling or squeezing sensation, although you may not feel anything, but if there’s milk flowing into the pump, then the let-down reflex is working!
As well as feeling positive emotionally, Oxytocin will also be released when the nerves in the nipple and areola areas of the breast are stimulated. This could be by baby suckling the breast, or by performing massage.
Massaging your breasts before expressing will help trigger the let-down reflex, and then if you massage whilst pumping, you will produce more milk. After pumping, drain the breast either by hand or using the Ardo Optiflow massage insert – milk production speeds up in response. The amount of milk you express over time is all down to supply and demand – frequent expressing will increase your milk supply!
Ardo recommends using a professional breastpump with the availability of different size breast shells for the most successful expressing – this can be a single or a double pump. A breastpump works in the same way as a breastfeeding baby. To begin, the Cycles (stimulation by the baby) is fast with a low vacuum, and as soon as the milk starts to flow, the vacuum (baby latching on) becomes stronger and longer.
A breastpump that is going to be most effective will have adjustable cycles and vacuum, a gentle change between stimulation and expression mode, and be a closed system, meaning there is a barrier that protects the breast, breastmilk and the pump against contamination.
Lastly, expressing should never be painful! If you are feeling pain, then there are many aspects we can talk through with you to eliminate this. Expressing should be an enjoyable experience – after all, you are producing food for your beautiful baby – you’re doing an amazing job!