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Are you just a pumping newbie and wondering whether you should do hands free or hands on pumping?
Or perhaps you have been pumping for a while and now considering to pump hands-free so that you can multitask with other things?
Or perhaps you are pumping yet struggling to get enough milk?
Should you consider hands free or hands on pumping to get more milk?
Read this article to learn which option suits you the best.
- 10 things you should know before pumping breast milk
- How to choose the correct breast shield size to maximize your pumping output
- 10 Ways to stimulate let down quickly
- Tips and tricks: effective pumping strategies to pump more milk
- How To Use Spectra S1 breast pump for maximum output
- How Much Milk Should You Be Pumping
- What To Do If You Are Not Pumping Enough Breast Milk
- How to maintain milk supply while away from baby (and culprit of sudden milk supply drop)
- Power Pumping To Increase Milk Supply
- 7 Ways to Pump Breast Milk Faster
- Hands-On vs Hands-free Pumping
- Nipple Pain While Pumping
Other articles in this series:
Nowadays there are more and more hands-free pumping bras appeared on the market.
It seems that pumping hands free is the new norm.
This is so that moms do not feel stuck while pumping and can do other things as per normal, be it as simple as scrolling down social media feeds, watching movies, or even having meals, taking care of the children, working, driving, and so on.
But is hands free pumping always the best option?
Well.., if you have a good milk supply to begin with, and hands free pumping allows you to extract enough milk for your little one, then by all means, you can certainly do it.
But what if you already struggled to get enough milk while pumping?
Should you still consider hands-free pumping?
First of all, let me explain what is the difference between hands-free pumping and hands-on pumping.
Since the breast shields are hold in place, you no longer need to hold them while pumping hence freeing up your hands to do something else (checking work emails, having lunch, etc).
This is such a perfect solution if you don't get dedicated pumping breaks at work and need to continue working while pumping.
However, now you use your hand to guide you while pumping.
- massage your breast (can be both sides at the same time or alternate) to clear any lumps
- reposition the breast shields (I usually did this once I noticed that I get no more milk flow with the original breast shield placement)
- and after you finish pumping, you can further follow up with hand-expression or manual pumping
What's the benefit of hands-on pumping:
- You'll get more milk (naturally) because you actively help to encourage milk flow with your hand massage
- You'll get more hindmilk (this is the fattier part of breast milk) that will only get extracted at the end of pumping. Massage and hand expression will get you more of this compared if you just rely on your pump
- You get to empty your breast thoroughly (and the positive effect of this is of course, healthy milk supply). As we know, the emptier the breast, the faster is milk production works. If the breast is not fully emptied, your breast will get notified of that and reduce the amount of milk produced for the next cycle
- You are less prone to clogged ducts / mastitis. If you diligently do hands-on pumping every time you pump, you'll likely get these two horrible things. For the past 2 years pumping for my daughter, I rarely get clogged ducts (perhaps only twice and that's because I skipped pumping). Never did I need to see doctor / LC for clogged duct treatment.
- You can finish pumping faster. Of course, since massage and hand expression helps to increase the milk flow, your breast will be emptied faster. More tips to pump faster here.
My sister has proven this. She used to only use a dual electric pump (multitask with doing other thing) and one day she decided to incorporate some manual pumping during her pumping session. She was amazed that she was able to express milk much faster.
So, would you choose hands-on pumping over hands-free pumping?
Here's my suggestion...
If you never tried hands-on pumping before and you really want to increase your pumping yield, do try hands-on pumping.
It may look challenging at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will feel natural for you.
If you can do hands-on pumping for all your pumping sessions, that would be best. Otherwise, try to incorporate into half of them to ensure your breasts get emptied properly.
Wait wait... so are you saying not to do hands-free pumping at all?
Nope at all..I know that not all moms have luxury of plenty pumping breaks during their work hours (or perhaps while juggling taking care of their kids at home).
So, if you don't have option except doing hands-free pumping, then just do it.
If you already have a few pumping sessions with hands-on pumping, yet, you still need to pump more milk to meet your baby's need, this may be time to see if you can add more pumping sessions.
And because I know you are short of time, this is when you can use hands-free pumping.
Say, you can only get 2 pump sessions at work (and those already with hands-on pumping).
You may want to add 2 more hands-free pumping sessions throughout the day (perhaps while driving to / from work or morning while having breakfast.
Or perhaps you can do pumping while working, try to sandwich those hands-free pumping in between hands-on pumping, e.g.:
- 9 am: hands-free (while working)
- 11 am: hands-on pumping
- 2 pm: hands-free (while working)
- 5 pm: hands-on pumping
This is because sometimes hands-free pumping may not be able to empty your breast thoroughly (especially true if you are just started to practice hands-free thing with hands-free setup such as Freemie).
That's why having a hands-on pumping session after that will help you to ensure the emptiness of your breast.
So, here's the conclusion:
Hands free pumping is such a great alternative when you don't have a proper allocated time to do your pumping.
Hands-free is better than not pumping or skipping pumping at all.
Hands-free pumping can also be used when you need to increase your pumping frequency but not having the allocated time to do that so that you can multitask with other thing.
But if you need to get more milk, I'd suggest to do hands-on pumping for all or at least a few of your pumping sessions.
Hands-on pumping also ensure healthier milk production since it helps you to empty your breast better.
Now, it's your turn.
Which pumping method do you use right now, hands-free or hands-on pumping?
Which one is working best for you?
Share with us in the comments. I believe all new moms would be very grateful reading your stories.