How can you tell if you have fully emptied your beasts at each pumping session?
Not being able to fully evacuate your breasts regularly may quickly lead to milk supply troubles and serious problems, such as mastitis.
In this read I’m going to share with you some tips and resources that helped me ensure I was fully emptying my breasts of breast milk at every expression session.
After all, knowing how and if your breasts are fully emptied after you pump is crucial to your breastfeeding health and success!
The Dangers of Not Fully Emptying Your Breasts
What happens if you aren’t able to fully empty your breasts of breast milk after you pump or breastfeed?
Let’s start with answering that question before we move onto the breast emptying tips and techniques I would like to recommend to you.
Not fully emptying your breasts could lead to mastitis
What is mastitis?
Mastitis is inflammation of the breasts that cause pain, swelling, redness and sometimes an infection. (source)
Signs and Symptoms:
- Breast tenderness
- Thickening of breast tissue
- Burning Sensation
- Feeling flu-like symptoms
- Clogged Milk Duct
Mastitis can be caused by bakced up breast milk that sits too long in the milk ducts, causing a nasty clog that lead to an infection. (source)
Bacteria can enter the milk ducts through contact with baby’s mouth, pump parts, and not fully emptying breasts leading to a breeding ground for bacterial growth.
How do I prevent myself from getting mastitis?
- Fully drain the breast milk from your breasts.
- If brastfeeding, allow your baby to drain one breast before switching.
- If nursing, make sure your baby is latching on properly.
Now that we’ve covered what can go wrong by failing to fully drain your breasts properly, let’s jump into the 10 tips I promised to share with you earlier!
10 Tips to Help Fully Empty your Breasts
In this section, we’ll address each breast emptying tip I was able to come up with based on the expertise of many exclusively pumping moms, as well as my own experience.
1. Hand express while pumping
This tip is a must learned skill for pumping moms! A good pump can do a lot of the work for you, but they still need our assistance.
Hand expressing is a superb way of manually forcing breast milk out of sticky and stubborn milk ducts.
Always massage while pumping and finish with hand expressing.
How do I hand express while I pump?
To use this tip to ensure you are fully emptying, simply apply massaging pressure and work your way down your breasts toward the nipple as you pump.
I find that this method works best if you are pumping one breast at a time without a pumping bra getting in the way.
2. Use a manual breast pump
The usefulness of a manual breast pump is sometimes overlooked, but don’t disregard it as an afterthought.
A manual breast pump is actually really good at getting out clogs too!
If you feel like you may still be full after the use of your everyday pump, bust out the manual pump for a few minutes and see what happens!
3. Change Positions of the Flange
This is a really effective tip when you see milk ceasing to flow, but you think you could still drain your breasts some more.
Simply begin to move the flange around your breasts and apply tension to different sides where you feel like you could possibly pull more milk from.
I can attest to this tip, as it worked every time for me and I could not go a pumping session without performing it.
4. Dangle Pump
What is dangle pumping?
It is pretty much as it sounds, dangling the flange from your breasts as you pump – using gravity to empty the breasts.
This technique takes some practice, but once you have it mastered, it will be one of your favorite tools in your pumping tool box to use!
5. Add Heat
Using moist heat especially, helps to loosen up the milk ducts and create a smoother flow.
You can use heat therapy packs, a warm moist wash cloth or take a hot shower.
Remember to pump directly after using heat for maximum results.
6. Nurse On One Breast Until Empty
If you are nursing, let your baby fully empty one breast before offering the other.
Your baby’s ability to empty you is more effective than any other method or tool. After all, that is what they were designed for!
Have you noticed when a newborn latches, it like lock jaw? I almost thought I could have stood up, let go and she would have still been attached me! OUCH!
Are you having a baby?
If so, grab yourself a newborn hospital door sign for visitors. It beautifully says “no kissing” and more, so you don’t have to!
Bonus Tip! How to properly unlatch a newborn:
Do not ever pull your nipple out of a newborns mouth while they are nursing! This is a bad move and a great way to get damaged nipples.
Instead, gently place your pinky finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth and very carefully pry open her latch to release your nipple without hurting you or baby.
Are you prepared to breastfeed?
I have to say, breastfeeding (nursing or through a bottle/pumping) is not as easy as it seems.
I know that as women, we have naturally innate abilities to do what comes with the territory of having a baby. However, everyone and every baby is different!
There are many ways to do things and breastfeeding comes with a lot of options and different scenarios.
The most important way to prepare yourself for breastfeeding is to know what those skills and different options are.
So that, you can implement them and test their success when something else isn’t working.
The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class is a phenomenal resource I genuinely endorse. Stacy, the creator, has the credentials and knowledge to be a stellar teacher for proper breastfeeding support and preparation.
You can enroll today for only $19 and that gets you unlimited access to the material forever.
Not interested in a breastfeeding course? Milkology also offers a back to work pumping course! Here’s the link to check that out too! And if you purchase both courses, you will receive a discount!
7. Supplements can help
I’ve written about the power of sunflower lechitin a lot of times before, but that’s because it really was a game changer for me!
It’s not uncommon for milk to become a little sticky at times. This could be a result of your diet or hormonal changes.
Sunflower Lechitin helps to prevent sticky milk ducts that can make it hard for breast milk to flow as easily.
Always consult with your doctor before taking any type of supplements or medications while breastfeeding.
8. Dry your pump parts
While pumping, it’s normal that your flanges will begin to accumulate some moisture. If you notice the seal between your breasts and flange isn’t quite solid and there is a loss of suction, try wiping down the parts and starting again.
I had to regularly do this throughout my entire pumping sessions. It’s a super simple task that can have a big impact!
9. Change your breast pump parts
If you are not fully emptying during your pumping session, your breast pump parts may be causing the problem.
You should be changing out your pump’s parts regularly to keep your breast pump performing optimally
In these reads, I take you through everything you need to know about managing your breast pump parts:
10. Maybe You Need A More Powerful Pump
If you are consistently changing your pump parts, but are still having a hard time emptying yourself, it may be that your breast pump is not performing well.
To help you determine if you are missing out on a better milk supply, see these thorough reviews on the best breast pumps of 2018. You may be using the wrong breast pump!
A powerful pump doesn’t have to mean a big pump either!
If you are looking for a compact, quiet and extremely powerful pump – you must give the BabyBuddha a look! Follow this link to see it and feel free to use my exclusive code, LOVEOURLITTLES20 for 20% off!
For a limited time only!
How to get a free breast pump
If you haven’t yet, you should be applying for a free breast pump and supplies through insurance. It’s a quick and easy process that could save you big money! Use this link to get to where you need to go.
Final Words on How to Fully Empty your Breasts
In summary, fully emptying your breasts must be dealt with after every feeding or pumping session. Not doing so often enough can lead to mastitis and potentially a serious breast infection.
To check if you have properly emptied your breasts, feel for any remaining fullness.
Finally, try out the 9 tips I suggested and do them often. Not only will these practices keep you from acquiring an infection, but regularly performing them may help increase your milk supply as well!
You may also love…
Here is another quick glance at the breast emptying tips we went over above.
- Hand express while pumping
- Use A Manual Breast Pump
- Change positions of the flange
- Dangle pump
- Add heat
- Nurse on one side until empty before switching
- Supplements can help
- Dry your pump parts off
- Change your pump parts
Friendly Reminders Before You Go!
Once again, I want to remind you to head over to Milkology and take a look at the wonderful resources they have for breastfeeding and pumping moms.
Don’t forget to use the code LOVEOURLITTLES20 on your BabyBuddha pre-order!
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