The Best Positions for Pumping Breast Milk

There are a variety of ways to begin integrating pumping sessions into your breastfeeding routine, so you can discover the best and most efficient ways to pump for you.

mom sitting in chair and double pumping with symphony plus breast pump nearby

As you begin to integrate pumping into your breast milk feeding routine, finding the right position to pump comfortably and efficiently often becomes just as important as discovering those favorite nursing positions was when you and your baby first began your breastfeeding journey. The more comfortable you are while pumping, then the easier it often becomes to consistently integrate it into your routine during times away from your baby.

The best pumping position for you might depend on the breast pump you have, where you’re pumping (such as at work, in a lactation space outside your home, or at home) and how you prefer to approach your pumping sessions. For example, our PersonalFit Flex™ breast shields are designed with an oval shape that can be rotated 360 degrees for comfortable, flexible positioning – and so you can easily adjust them as needed to find the most comfortable pumping position for you.

Here are a few pumping positions and tips to consider:

Pumping When Seated

The most basic pumping position involves sitting down with your shoulders set and your back straight. Ideally, you'll want to do this in a comfortable, padded chair with armrests to help support you while holding your breast shields in place. 

Consider adding an ottoman to your chair for a well-deserved footrest and added comfort. Additionally, a breastfeeding pillow – though more often used for nursing – can be helpful as extra support for your back or arms while pumping. Be sure not to lean too far back, though, to avoid potential backflow as you’re pumping. 

Pumping When Standing

Standing while you’re pumping can sometimes provide a bit of additional flexibility – or simply allow you to stretch your legs and move in place during your pumping sessions. Try to keep your shoulders straight and don’t bend over too far, so you can avoid spilling any of the pumped milk that you’ve worked so hard for. 

Hands-Free Pumping

Although not technically a position, hands-free pumping is an excellent option for busy and/or working parents because of the added flexibility that allows for convenient multitasking while pumping. Whether you’ll be pumping at home, at work, on the go or while traveling, having a personal use breast pump that can be used hands-free and a pumping bra designed to support flexible hands-free pumping can make all the difference.

Having extra freedom and free hands while pumping often means being able to answer e-mails, scroll through your newsfeed, read a book, toss in a load of laundry, change a diaper, take a phone call, or focus on other tasks during your pumping sessions – and what new parent doesn’t want to save precious time while continuing to provide nutrient-rich liquid gold for their little one? 

Helpful Tips for Your Pumping Experience

Want to be as comfortable as possible while pumping? Though you may want to try various positions and spaces to determine what pumping routine works best for you, these simple tips can support a convenient and comfortable experience:

  • Ensure that you are using the correct sized breast shields. Using breast shields that are too large or small for your body can lead to significant discomfort while pumping – while also negatively impacting your milk supply. Carefully measure yourself and test your breast shields to confirm that you have the correct flange size. 
  • Try listening to soothing music or looking at photos and videos of your baby before and during your pumping session to encourage milk flow.
  • Having a nipple cream like Purelan on hand can provide quick relief for soreness, dryness, cracked nipples and other nursing and pumping-related discomfort. Keep some with you at home and on the go for effective moisturizing relief whenever needed. 
  • Make sure that you’re always using clean breast shields, pump parts and pumping bras (if pumping hands-free). Refer to the Instructions for Use that came with your breast pump for detailed cleaning instructions.  
  • Don’t wait too long between your nursing and pumping sessions. Plan to nurse or pump every two to three hours to avoid uncomfortable engorgement, which can make latching or pumping more difficult. Also, lengthy stretches of time between sessions can eventually signal to your body to begin producing less milk – and then impact your supply.

When pumping breast milk, the best position will always be whatever is most comfortable for you while helping you express efficiently. If you’re noticing significant pain while nursing or pumping, talk with your doctor or a lactation consultant right away to help discover what may be causing this discomfort and work together to resolve it. Embarking on your breast milk feeding journey – whether nursing, pumping, or a combination of both – often requires commitment and patience, but with some flexibility and adjustment you can continue to provide breast milk for your baby as long as you choose.

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