9 Ways to Increase The Amount of Breastmilk You Pump
Are you a breastfeeding or pumping mom looking to build up your milk supply and produce more breastmilk when pumping? You're not alone! Many moms find that their milk production can start to dip, leading them to look for ways to increase the amount of breast milk they are able to pump.
It's certainly possible with the right strategies and techniques to increase pump output. If you're wondering what you can do about it, read on! This blog post will provide some helpful tips that moms just like you have used successfully. From the type of pump you use to how frequently you need to pump, we'll cover all of these valuable ideas (and more!). So that you can begin increasing the amount of breastmilk you are pumping without too much extra effort. Let's get started!
Check out my reel on how to make pumping suck less.
1) Pump frequently
One of the best ways to increase milk production when pumping is to pump frequently. Ideally, you should aim to pump every two to three hours, or at least eight times a day. Especially during the first 12 weeks of breastfeeding, not going longer than 2-3 hours during the day and 4-5 hours at night will give you the best shot at establishing a great milk supply.
Not removing milk frequently enough is the number one cause of low milk supply. Make sure to remove milk frequently and effectively to help build a great long-term milk supply.
When pumping with the goal of increasing milk production, it is important to remember that FREQUENCY TRUMPS DURATION.
What exactly does this mean? It means that the frequency of your pumping is MORE important than how long you pump. If you are choosing between a short pump or delaying your pump and pumping for longer later–you should always pump instead of delaying. Even pumping for as little as 5-10 min can make a big difference in your milk supply. We want to keep our milk MOVING to tell our body to make more milk.
As milk volume increases in our breasts a protein called feedback inhibitor of lactation (also known as FIL) starts to increase. FIL’s job is to tell the body to make less milk! If we want to increase milk production we need to reduce the build-up of FIL by emptying our breasts frequently. In lactation, we know EMPTY BREASTS MAKE MORE MILK FASTER!
2) Use a double electric pump
Using a double electric pump can help increase milk production and save time. A double electric pump allows you to pump both breasts at the same time, which can help stimulate milk production and increase milk output. Pumping both breasts at the same time will stimulate a higher prolactin surge. It also saves time, as you can express twice as much milk in the same amount of time as a single pump. If you are looking to increase milk yield when pumping, be sure to pump both breasts at the same time even if you just fed the baby on one breast.
3) Pump for an adequate amount of time
When pumping, it's important to pump for an adequate amount of time. Aim to pump for at least 15-20 minutes per session, as this will ensure that your breasts are fully emptied. Most of the milk will be removed during the first letdown but keep pumping. Once the milk flow slows, try to illicit another letdown by returning to the setting of “low suction, high speed.” You can experiment with what settings and patterns work best for you.
4) Massage your breasts
Massaging your breasts before and during pumping can help stimulate milk flow and increase milk production. Gently massaging your breasts before pumping can help release any milk that may be trapped in your ducts, which can help increase milk output. During pumping, massage your breasts with your hands or a breast massage tool to help stimulate milk flow. Many studies have shown that hands-on pumping can drastically increase milk yield when pumping. One study found that simultaneous massage while pumping led to 40-50% more milk produced during the pumping session.
5) Use the correct flange size
Using the correct breast shield size can make a big difference in milk output. A breast shield that is too small or too large can prevent the breast from emptying fully, which can decrease milk production. Make sure that the breast shield fits properly and feels comfortable, and if necessary, try different sizes to find the best fit. For most moms measuring the diameter of your nipple and adding 2-3 mm will be a good starting point for flange size. It may take some trial and error to find which flange size, shape, and material works best for you.
Here’s how to correctly measure your nips.
6) Make sure you are relaxed
When pumping, it's important to be relaxed, as stress and tension can interfere with milk flow. Find a quiet, comfortable place to pump, and make sure that you are comfortable and relaxed. Take deep breaths and try to focus on something pleasant, such as a photo of your baby or relaxing music. Some moms find smelling a piece of the baby’s clothing to be helpful to get the right hormones flowing. Other moms do better with total distraction and watching a trashy TV show can be a great help (not that I would know!)
If you find yourself distracted by how much milk you are pumping, try putting some baby socks on the collection bottles so it is easier for you to relax and not stress about your production.
7) Use breast compressions
Breast compressions can help increase milk output when pumping. Gently compress your breast with your hands while pumping to help stimulate milk flow and increase milk production. You can also use a breast compression tool or a hands-free pumping bra to make breast compressions easier while pumping.
8) Consider power pumping
Power pumping is a technique that can help increase milk production when pumping. Power pumping involves pumping for 10-20 minutes, taking a break for 10 minutes, and then pumping again for 10-20 minutes. This process is repeated for an hour. Power pumping can help stimulate milk production and increase milk output.
9) Hand expressing after pumping
Using your hands to remove the remaining milk in your breast can help stimulate your milk production. After pumping spend 3-5 min hand expressing from each breast to help increase milk removal and support milk production. Click here for a guide on hand expression.
When to get help
If you are working to increase your milk production when pumping and are not seeing an increase in 5-7 days after adding in some of the above measures or you are triple feeding your baby (pumping AFTER breastfeeding to increase milk supply) reach out to an IBCLC for a full workup. We want to make sure we identify any underlying causes of a low milk supply and find a plan that supports your mental health and connection with your baby.
Low milk supply can affect 10-15% of breastfeeding families and can be emotionally taxing and overwhelming for more information on low supply check out our blog. If you find yourself overwhelmed and looking for expert education and compassionate support, our team of IBCLCs is ready to help.
Ultimately, the key to increasing milk production when pumping is finding what works best for you. Experiment with different pumping settings, massage your breasts while pumping, and hand express after pumping.
You should also seek out support and assistance if you are having difficulty producing enough milk. Whether it’s a lactation consultant or a supportive friend, making sure that you have help when needed can be incredibly useful in ensuring success. As long as you take time to find the right balance and create a plan that works for you, pumping regularly can soon make a huge difference.
There’s no one size fits all solution, and if these tips don’t seem to make a difference ruling out a biological cause of low milk supply like IGT or PCOS is key. If you need more help getting to the bottom of your milk supply concerns and ways to improve supply our teams of IBCLCs are ready to help
In Boob School, we support all feeding choices and offer help with bottle feeding and supplementation. We believe breastfeeding is NEVER, “all or nothing,” and have built our program to support families wherever they are.
Cheering you on, always!
Boob School Founder and CEO
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