If you just started with breastfeeding your baby, you realized one thing – it’s not as easy as everyone tells you. One thing is to get the baby to latch on properly and the second one is to make sure your body produces enough milk. If you opted for pumping breast milk for whatever reasons, you would find the short infographic below extremely helpful!
Before we jump to the infographic, let’s cover few things you should know about your milk supply!
Variations in Milk Supply
Your breast milk supply will vary depending on the time of day, your health conditions and other factors. Generally speaking, if you allow the baby to nurse, the milk supply should accommodate the baby’s needs.
The issues start when you switch to pumping full time, for obvious reasons – no breast pump is as effective as a baby for extracting the milk and measuring the amount of milk you can pump can lead to stress and worries about the baby getting enough breast milk, especially if you see a decrease in your milk production (now that you can measure it).
How much milk can you expect to pump?
That’s very individual, but in general guidelines you should expect to see 1/2 to 2 ounces total (for both breasts) per pumping session. Don’t get discouraged if it takes you two to three pumping sessions just to get enough milk for one feeding.
Pumping can be improved over time, but for a mom that is breastfeeding full time, you need to remember that the pumped breast milk is extra on top of the baby’s needs. You probably won’t build up a stash that takes up half of your freezer, but this is perfectly normal.
The most important thing you need to keep in mind that the low milk supply indicated by pumping does not correspond with the milk supply available to the baby when breastfeeding. If you’re not getting enough milk out with a pump, that doesn’t mean that your baby isn’t getting enough milk when breastfeeding – as long as the baby develops properly, produces the recommended number of diapers per day and grows there are no issues with the milk supply.
It is important to keep track of wet and soiled diapers during the first 8-10 weeks to make sure the baby is getting enough milk.
21 Tips for Pumping Breast Milk
Multiple let downs are not a myth. Many moms complain how difficult is it to get any more than just one let down. Here is one mom’s advice from La Leche Ligue forum:
“I have a PIS, on which the suction is different for the first 2 minutes to stimulate your breasts to let down. After all the milk from my first let down is gone, I switch back to this suction mode (switch the pump off and then on again), and that helps with stimulating another let-down quickly. I maximize the amount of milk from every let down by applying breast compressions (squeezing the breasts).”
“Most important though is that you really have to relax. I mentally go through every body part while pumping and relax it. Recently, I have started to try and meditate while pumping, and while it is difficult over the racket from the pump, it has worked very well. I pump for 20-30 minutes and get about 4 let-downs.”
Same as mentioned above, massaging the breast during pumping will not only improve the possibility of another letdown but will also help you see when the breast has been emptied.
3Follow with hand expression
After you notice that the milk is barely dripping, you can stop with the automatic pump and use your hands to squeeze in more milk, you will be surprised how much you can still get out even after you’ve finished pumping.
(for tips 4 to 8 please continue under the infographic)
4Reposition the shield
Sometimes adjusting the shield on the breast will improve the flow of the milk. Need help? Here is a video which shows you:
5More Frequent, Shorter Pumping Sessions
For most women, this might not make much of a difference. Say you pump for 30 minutes twice a day, why do you think pumping 3 times a day at 20 minutes each is better? I wouldn’t even care because they both total to an hour a day.
But the truth is, pumping more often is proven to increase milk production.
How is that?
The emptier the breast, the faster the milk production is. The fuller the breast, the slower the milk production is. – Living with Low Milk Supply
When you frequently empty your breast, your brain sends signals to you mammary glands to produce more milk because supply run out more often. When you do otherwise, your body thinks it does not need any more milk because of how seldom it gets emptied out.
6Pump Early in the Morning
Most mothers don’t know that the hormone responsible for milk production called Prolactin is exceptionally high early in the morning.
So, if you want to get the most out of your first pump of the day, set your alarm, get up and stay awake for at least 20 minutes to do your morning pump. You’d be satisfied with the results and make walking up early worth it.
7Pump & Nurse Simultaneously
Same principle as pumping more frequently, nursing and pumping simultaneously will urge your glands to produce more milk. It will think that you’re feeding twins which will, in return, give you more milk.
However, this may become a challenge once your baby gets older and become more curious. They’ll be wondering what that plastic milk stealing machine is and might even try to pull it off. Then again, every baby is different.
8Do Power Pumping Boot Camp
If you have not heard of power pumping, then this will be very beneficial for you. What is power pumping?
Power pumping is a technique that involves mimicking the frequent feeding of a baby experiencing a growth spurt. – Pregnancy.com
In other words, power pumping is doing multiple short pumping sessions in a span on an hour. With breaks in between, of course.
An advisable power pumping session consists of 20 minutes of dual pumping, followed by a 10-minute break then 10 minutes of dual pumping, another 10-minute break and ending with the last 10 minutes of dual pumping.
The routine will totally empty out your breast, thus, stimulating your glands to produce quicker and more.
Aside from these 8 super helpful tips, there are more simple to goodness tips you can follow to help your milk production and pumping sessions.
Stress can decrease your milk production. Find a quiet place to breast feed or pump milk. Always try to relax before and during pumping.
10Breastfeed on demand
When you’re with your baby, breastfeed as many times as your baby demands. This will increase your breast milk production greatly.
Drink lots of fluids when you’re breastfeeding or pumping. A dry body will not produce milk.
It is scientifically proven that moms who smoke while breastfeeding produces less milk than non-smoking moms do. Nicotine will also affect the nutrients and taste of your breast milk.
13Massage you breasts
From the armpit, use your fingertips to trace spiral motions towards your breast tissues. This is very similar to how your doctor checks for lumps.
14Wear comfortable clothes
When your breasts are full, it will swell and sometimes be painful. Sporting comfortable clothes will prevent unnecessary pressure on your breasts until you are able to pump or feed.
15Check your pump
Check your pumping machine regularly to see if the suction needs replacement or anything of the sort. Some pumps get damaged over time and thus, cannot pump more milk out.
There are plenty of foods that can decrease your breast milk production. Eat healthily and as much as possible, stay away from fast food and processed food while you’re still breast feeding.
17Get your partner’s help
When you are in a situation where you’re not producing enough breast milk like you used to, you need support from your partner. Have your partner help you get relaxed and relieve some stress. He can either give you a massage or do some of the most stressful things around the house for you.
It is important that you recuperate properly when you breastfeed. Sleep when your baby is asleep to allow breast milk reproduction.
Include light physical activity to your daily routine. Exercise regulates your hormones which essentially helps increase your milk production.
20Visit you Doctor
Regular check ups with your doctor is important especially if you’re not producing as much breast milk as your child demands. Ask your doctor what kind of diet increases milk production. There are also hormonal drugs doctors can prescribe to help breast milk production.
Do not get frustrated or worried if you’re not meeting your childs hungry demand. The more you get emotionally stressed, the less you will produce. If you’re not producing enough, visit your doctor or try pumping more often.
Milk Pumping Essentials
There are many ways to help increase your breast milk production.
The key is patience. It does not happen over night so you have to be consistent and intentional. Consider all the facts that may contribute to your decreasing supply.
Is it your diet? Are you stressed? Have you checked with your doctor?
It does not have to be complicated. All you need to do is to relax and think rationally. Figure out what you can do and include your partner in the process. There’s a big emotional lift knowing that someone is there to support and help you.
Nonetheless, just have as much fun as you can and build that lasting relationship with your child. If you have any tips to increase breast milk, let us know in a comment below!