If you’re expecting a baby and you haven’t pumped before, you might be nervous about using a breast pump. If you’re wondering what a breast pump feels like, there’s nothing to worry about. We wouldn’t compare it to a nice massage, however; with a properly fitted breastshield and using the correct settings, using a breast pump is not painful.
What does a breast pump feel like?
In the most simplest terms possible, a breast pump uses suction to pull and stimulate your nipples, drawing milk out and into the collection bottle. Beyond removing milk from a breast, using a breast pump is nothing like milking a cow. Breast pump technology has come a long way in the last century, and inventors have truly endeavoured to make the process as comfortable and convenient as possible. We’ve asked pumping mamas what it feels like to use our Milk Genie breast pump, and here’s what they had to say:
I pumped for the first time in hospital a day after giving birth and said to the midwife “my nipples are dancing” – Stephanie
I didn’t realize my nipples could stretch so far! But I was surprised to realize that it didn’t hurt at all. At first it was a bit shocking to see my nipples being drawn into the flange, but once I started seeing milk flow it felt more normal. – Kathleen
You need to get in the right state of mind to to have a good pumping experience.
Hmmm slightly uncomfortable. You have to be more hands on then you think. And try not to think as yourself as a cow. – Anastasia
Using a breast pump can be emotional
Using a breast pump can be an emotional experience. The act of expressing milk makes your body produce hormones, so it’s no surprise if you feel emotional about breastfeeding or pumping.
I’ll describe pumping as an enjoyable moment that u wont hesitate in your life..its so amazing.something u couldnt get if u dont have babies in your life..trust me – Riyadh
Remembering why you’re pumping (to nourish life!) can really improve the experience.
I started expressing a bottle each morning for the milk bank. This completely turned around my attitude to my breast pump, it had gone from a symbol of failure to something positive where I was helping poorly babies and their mums. I remember that I used to feed my son on one side whilst pumping the other, and he would stare at it looking horrified that something was stealing his milk! It was very satisfying seeing the milk drop through the valve knowing that it would make a big difference to a grateful mum, and as my pump was so comfortable, I didn’t really notice it. – Anjuli
You may feel pride and accomplishment while pumping.
So what does it “feel” like? I am sure, every mums will have their own
sensations about breastfeeding and pumping, but for me my focus was always much greater than focusing on a mini vacuum sucking my nipple in the hope a good milk output flowed out. My feelings were of achievement, marveling at my body being able to help my child get a great start in life, and how I got to contribute in a very humbling way to other families in the process by donating milk. I felt pride every time I could donate the milk above and beyond what my baby drank – and over two years that was in the hundreds of litres. – Georgie
Should it hurt to use a breast pump?
Using a breast pump should not hurt! If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort while pumping there are a few things you should check first. Incorrect breastshield size is the leading cause of pain while using a breast pump. Using the wrong shield size can cause pain or irritation while pumping, milk blisters, and even injure your nipples. It can also hinder milk flow, causing you to pump much longer than you normally would which also causes irritation, and potentially leading to plugged ducts. You can check your breastshield size by printing out our nipple measuring ruler, or submitting a confidential video to the Pumpables Fitting Room.
At this stage, I found pumping very emotional, frustrating, tiring and uncomfortable (mainly because the shield size was way too big but I didn’t know that at the time!) I remember using my own pump at home for the first time and thinking that it felt so much better (smaller shield with silicone insert) and got a far greater output than I had in hospital with the Symphony. – Anjuli
Another common cause of pain while pumping is using settings suction settings too high for your comfort level. You should never pump higher than your comfort level, and pain should not be ‘pushed through.’ To find your maximum level of comfort, gradually increase the vacuum while you’re pumping, beginning at the lowest pumping setting. Once you start experiencing discomfort, turn the vacuum down by one level – that is your maximum comfort level (note that correcting an incorrect breastshield size may actually increase your maximum comfort level).
It is normal to feel a slight tugging sensation while you pump, but it should never hurt.