5 BIGGEST Mistakes Pumping Moms Make!

There are many situations where you might find yourself needing to pump! As a mom of now 3 little boys and a lactation counselor, I’ve used many different styles of pumps both at work and at home.

You can also get a FREE breast pump through your insurance company, click here to see if that option is available for you!

Many of these common mistakes I’ve personally made myself, but these are the questions I’m seeing pumping moms asking! Ok, so let’s talk about the 5 biggest pumping mistakes that new moms make.

1. Let Down Mode vs Expression Mode

When you first turn on your breast pump, it will likely start in the letdown/massage mode. Let down mode gives a fast and quick sucking motion that mimics when a baby first starts on the breast. This helps to get your milk going. After a couple minutes (once you feel your let down and your milk starts to flow), change the setting to the expression mode. This is a slower and deeper mode that will get your milk out more efficiently.

A baby changes their sucking patterns in a similar way during a feed at the breast, they suck hard and fast at first until they get the milk then they slow down a bit. So ideally, this should be the same thing you’re doing while you switch back and forth between modes on your pump!

The Medela pump has convenient features where after you turn it on, it will automatically switch from let down to the expression mode after two minutes. Play around with your pump to see how these settings work. You can find loads of pump tutorials on my YouTube channel, I have so many pumps I like to play with!

2. Wrong Flange Size

If your pump is pulling in all of your nipple and areola, it’s not going to work right and it is going to hurt. Likewise, if it’s not pulling in any of the areola and is rubbing on your nipple, it’s going to have the same result. What should be happening when applying your pump is it should be pulling in the whole nipple and a little bit of the areola.

The size of a flange references to the diameter of the opening. For point of reference, a 24 millimeter is about a medium size flange. If your nipple is being pulled into the very end, you need to get a smaller size. If instead your nipple is filling up the entire hole and rubbing, then you need to get a bigger size.

3. Buying a USED Breastpump

This is a mistake I made and deeply regret! I was gifted a used breast pump that I pumped with when I returned to work. This really negatively affected my milk output and I wish someone would have told me to invest in a new, good pump!

There are just things that wear out in a breast pump, namely the motor. They truly are designed and created for just one user. You can read more about the pitfalls of using a used breast pump in this blog post.

Most insurances nowadays are willing to pay for breast pumps and should be considered before buying a used one.

4. Using The STRONGEST Suction

First of all, OUCH! Secondly, stronger suction does NOT equal more milk. A lot of the pumps on the market right now all have a similar suction strength. Take into consideration, the type of suction they have do vary from pump to pump.

The term “Hospital Grade Pump” is thrown around a lot, and the FDA doesn’t even regulate that term so you could really put that on any pump.

In hospital settings, it’s used to refer to a multiuser pump that has a closed circuit and has little pumping supply kits that moms can have each their own and can hook up the the machine with less sterilization required.

5. Never Replacing Membranes

Membranes can actually affect your milk output and should be replaced every month to three moths!! (Depending on the frequency of use)

The spectra style valve, also known as a duckbill, should be closed when you’re not pumping. If you’re not currently pumping and you see that it is opened, it is time to replace it. Even if it is still closed after three months, it should be replaced.

The valves on the Medela pump do not come attached when you first get the pump. However, they are necessary to get a proper suction and should lay flat. If they are warped any, then it is a sign they need to be replaced. And once again, do not let it go past three months.


I’d love to hear from you! Have you made any of these mistakes? Are there others you’d like to add to this list? Comment on the YouTube video below and share your ideas!