Most parents are curious about how pumping the breast feels. While others find it uncomfortable, others find the need to know what mothers go through for the milk pumping.
Similar to breastfeeding, a breast pump should not make you feel any pain or discomfort. Although some pressure on the nipples may happen, it should not be traumatic for you. It should give you memorable breastfeeding that gives a similar sensation when your baby suckles your breast for milk.
As the pump seals your nipples, it suctions your breast to collect that milk. This process should relieve you by removing clogged and heavy feeling within your engorged breasts.
What Your Nipples Feel
It might take a little while to get the hang of breast pumping on your first try. You may feel uncomfortable, but your body will slowly learn your milk letdown reflex or the start of the release of milk using the breast pump.
Some pumps have an adjustable suction setting that allows mimicking the nursing baby. This mode helps your body respond comfortably without intense pressure.
During the milk letdown, your body receives a signal that stimulates your nipple and areola and then releases oxytocin and prolactin. These hormones help with the flow and milk production.
You might feel tingling sensations within your breasts, like needles and pins. It may also be painful if you have not extracted milk for a long while but will eventually fade.
There should not be any bleeding or nipple cracks after the pumping session. Your nipples should come out looking natural as usual.
Breast Pumping Pain and Discomfort
While some find comfort, some experience the dreading feeling in every pumping session, the pain is not something to worry about since discomfort will only last for 10-15 seconds at the beginning of each pumping.
Some parents may also feel an uncomfortable sensation that lasts for about 2 minutes during their milk release.
A study in 2014 shows that about 62% of breast-pumping mothers encounter problems with pumping, and 15% encounter injuries while pumping.
Pay attention to the pain when you find yourself in this situation. Although everyone has a different threshold for pain, it is best not to ignore the factors that may cause discomfort.
Factors that Cause Breast Pumping Pain
There are a lot of factors that bring pain and discomfort in pumping. The following are the things to check upon, especially for first-time users:
Improper Flanges or Funnels Size
Flanges are part of the pump that fits over and comes in contact with the breasts and nipples. The use of improper flanges sizer may cause pain and irritation.
Most women use different sizes of flanges. Sizes depend on the width of the nipples. You have to remember that the wider the nipples, the larger the flange is. This is to give space for the nipple for air as it moves back and forth in the tunnel of the flange.
On the other side, you may need a smaller flange if you have a narrow-sized nipple. It helps to prevent your breast tissues from being suctioned which may irritate your areola or the dark portion of your breast around your nipple.
Engorgement is the over-fullness that occurs when your breasts have not released milk regularly. Symptoms may include painful swollen breasts and flattened nipples. This may also flatten your chest and may be incapable of moving freely in the pump. Incorrect flange sizes may also cause swelling of the breast.
Nipple tolerance and sensitivity vary from person to person. While others find comfort in turning the setting to full blast, some might find it too strong and can be very uncomfortable.
Increasing the volume until you feel slightly uncomfortable should help you find the right level for you. However, you need to turn it down immediately to avoid swelling.
Too much strength may cause swelling and other discomforts during your pumping.
Pain is not necessary when breast pumping. You might feel an unpleasant sensation at the beginning of your pumping session that should eventually disappear.
Breast pumping does not require skills to master. It should take a while for you to get used to the sensation and to learn the proper installation of the pump to avoid the discomfort that may cause serious injuries.
Consider the sizes of flanges to use, and be sure that the level is appropriate to your sensitivity. You also need to keep the equipment clean before and after your pumping session. Wash your hands and maintain proper hygiene to avoid germs and other bacteria as much as possible.
Above all that, be patient and try to be in your best comfort while you are at it. Seek help in times of discomfort. Ask a lactation consultant or specialist if the discomfort is unbearable, and remember that you are not alone in this journey.