Is pumping painful for you? Do you dread pumping because the thought of your nipples rubbing against the plastic makes you cringe?
Yeah, I’ve been there too. Pumping absolutely should NOT be painful! If you know you have the right flange sizes (if you don’t know, then check out this post here), and pumping is still painful, you should definitely consider lubing your flanges.
Did you know that having pain when pumping can possibly negatively affect your milk supply? That’s because pain can inhibit oxytocin from being released which can inhibit your letdown reflex and in turn decrease your milk output. Being comfortable while pumping is incredibly important so let’s get this figured out!
Let’s go through a checklist to rule out a lot of the common offenders of painful pumping:
- Incorrect flange sizing: flanges that are too big or too small can cause pain, so you need to measure and make sure you have the correct size flanges. Check out more on that here.
- Suction is too high: the suction should not be ripping your nipples off in pain! The correct amount of suction will vary from pumper to pumper but a general rule of thumb is the highest COMFORTABLE setting. This means that say you go to a level 9 suction and that’s painful, back it down to 8 and see how that feels. If it’s comfortable, then you found your perfect suction!
- Elastic tissue/nipples: I talk about this all the time but I feel like it is so important that every pumper knows about elastic tissue. If you have elastic tissue, no matter what flange size you have, your nipple still gets pulled all the way into the tunnel, it’s the bac of the tunnel and can cause pain, blisters, and bleeding. I have elastic tissue and didn’t know for about 5 months into Exclusive Pumping and getting that sorted out absolutely saved my pumping journey. You can read more about elastic tissue here.
- Lube your flanges! And that’s what I’m going to talk about in this post.
Pumping can potentially cause pain because your tissue is rubbing back and forth on the sides of the flanges. Adding a lubricant can help your breast tissue glide alongside the flange rather than rub against it and cause friction (AKA pain!).
Another benefit of a lubricant is that it can help promote the healing of your tissue. If you have been pumping or nursing and have nipple damage, say from a flange that was too small or your baby is having latch issues that caused damage and now you’re pumping to try and help relieve that pain for a bit, lube can help a lot.
Adding a lubricant acts as another barrier of protection for pumping while you have nipple damage and can help promote healing while still feeding your baby with breastmilk and stimulating those breasts to keep your supply up. Remember if your baby is getting a bottle and you’re not nursing, don’t skip out on stimulating those breasts because that is how milk supply works, demand and supply. Stimulating your breasts send signals to your brain that it needs to continue to produce milk!
What type of lube should I choose?
Choose a food-grade lubricant because it will come in contact with your breastmilk in small amounts. Coconut oil is a very popular pumping lubricant and personally one I have used for almost 8 years.
Amazing flange lube hack!
After years of sticking my finger in the jar of hard coconut oil and wiping it on the inside of my flanges, I had a light bulb moment and realized that I could be spraying liquid coconut oil into my flanges. This not only saves time but it also saves space, and saves me a gross, lubricated finger.
Steps to making homemade boob lube:
- Get a small empty spray bottle
- Get a food-grade liquid coconut oil (most grocery stores carry this).
- Pour it in! You don’t necessarily need the funnel, it just makes it easier.
- When it’s time to pump, spray a few times in each flange and you’re good to go!
And there you have it! Now you can pump comfortably, reduce friction and pain while pumping, and possibly increase your milk supply.
As always, if you need any further guidance, I’m always an email away and I also offer pumping consults so feel free to reach out, I love to help other moms in need!