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INCREASE MILK SUPPLY BY PUMPING – 9 GENIUS WAYS
Do you worry about how much milk you are making? Many moms worry about their milk supply.
Whether you need a temporary boost in supply to build a freezer stash or you are dealing a low milk supply, you can increase milk supply by pumping.
It is a breastfeeding truth that most moms make enough milk for their baby to grow at a normal rate. But one of the most common reasons a woman stops breastfeeding is because she thinks she doesn’t have enough milk.
I am going to share my best pumping tips to increase your milk supply.
If you are really busy right now and don’t have time to read this whole post you can scroll to the bottom and watch the video where I go over the highlights.
REASONS TO INCREASE MILK SUPPLY
Mamas have different motivations for wanting to make more milk.
- Some moms make plenty of milk for their baby, but they want to build up a stash of breast milk in their freezer. Having a freezer stash of milk is always a good idea.
- There are mamas who experience a temporary drop in milk supply.
- True low supply is a challenge for a lot of nursing moms, and they are always looking for helpful tips to increase milk supply.
The good news is that there are a lot of ways to increase milk supply. And pumping is one of them.
However, simply pumping randomly here and there may only give you limited results if any. It is essential to have a plan when using pumping to increase milk supply.
But you don’t have to guess what works best. I am going to share with you what has worked for the thousands of moms I have worked with over the last twenty-five years.
These are the most effective ways I’ve seen moms use pumping to increase milk supply.
A shout out to all those mamas who taught me all these pumping tricks to make more milk!
WARNING – DON’T LET PUMPING TAKE FOOD AWAY FROM YOUR BABY’S NEXT BREASTFEEDING SESSION
Calculate the timing of your pumping to increase milk supply so that you are not cutting into your baby’s next meal.
You want to pump within 15-20 minutes after the end of a feeding. If you can’t get to it by twenty minutes then wait until after the next feeding.
Now that I got that important tidbit of info out of the way let’s talk about the best ways to increase milk supply with pumping.
PUMP MORE FREQUENTLY
You will get more results, the more often you pump. If you pump four times a day, you will get more results than if you pump once a day. If you pump eight times a day, you will get even better results.
Pumping very frequently can be crazy-making.
Pumping should not take on a life of its own. It is more important to spend time enjoying your baby. If you start having fantasies about taking a hammer to your pump, then it is probably a good idea to back off of the pumping a little bit.
PUMPING AFTER BREASTFEEDING TO INCREASE SUPPLY
Pumping after breastfeeding increases milk supply for these reasons:
- The more your breasts are stimulated, the more milk you will make.
- Whenever you stimulate your breasts, your brain makes the hormone prolactin. More stimulation means more prolactin, and that usually means more milk.
- How completely your breasts are drained affects breast milk production. Most babies take about eighty percent of the available milk. That tells your body that the amount it is making is right. If you drain all the milk, it tells your body to make more. If your baby is consistently leaving more than 20% behind, then your body will start to decrease milk production.
This is one of those times when you want to time pumping so that you don’t take food away from your baby. Remember, begin pumping no longer than 15-20 minutes from the end of your baby’s feeding. That way, you only take the leftovers. You also send the message to make more milk.
If you wait an hour after feeding, you will get more milk. But that is because it is coming out of the next feeding.
HOW TO INCREASE MILK SUPPLY WHEN PUMPING
While some moms use pumping to increase their supply so their baby can get more milk when breastfeeding, other moms want to get more milk when they pump.
These are some pumping tricks that will help you fill those bottles.
DO HANDS-ON PUMPING
Scientific research has shown that when a woman uses an electric breast pump in combination with the hands-on method of pumping, she will make more milk overall (Source). It will also get more milk out when you pump.
Hands-on pumping is when you massage and compress your breasts during and right after pumping. You will need a hands-free pumping bra or tank to do this.
USE A LACTATION MASSAGER
The LaVie Lactation Massager is a very cool new product available to help with let-down and milk flow. It is a specially designed vibrating massager that helps empty your breast more quickly. It runs on rechargeable batteries and has different vibration settings.
If you want something lower-tech, LaVie also sells a Massage Roller. Both of these awesome tools are eligible for your Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA).
PUMP FOR LONGER PERIODS
Five minutes is probably the minimum amount of time you want to pump. I never recommend pumping for longer than twenty minutes.
The longer you pump, the longer you are keeping your prolactin levels up. This will help your milk supply overall.
But pumping for a longer period increases the chances that you will have another let-down. When you have a let-down you will get an increase in milk flow for a few minutes.
So even if your flow is slowing down, it can increase again if you get another let-down.
If your pump has a let-down setting don’t only use it at the beginning of pumping. Try switching it on when your milk flow has slowed down and see if it will stimulate another let-down.
Pumping for a few minutes after your milk stops flowing sends the message to your body to make more milk.
Power pumping is a very popular method of pumping to increase milk supply. Power pumping is when you pump frequently for a period of time, usually an hour to an hour and a half. It is typically done once a day.
There are a few different ways you can power pump.
Power Pumping While Watching TV
This is the easiest way to power pump because there is no need to watch the clock. You simply watch a TV show and pump during the commercials. Easy peasy!
Power Hour Plus Pumping
Pump for ten minutes. Rest for ten minutes. Repeat the pumping part four times.
It is called the “Power Hour Plus” because technically it is 70 minutes. We believe in truth in advertising here at Breastfeeding Confidential.
The Four–Hour Power Pumping Session
With this method of power pumping, you pump for ten to fifteen minutes once an hour for four hours. This method of power pumping is primarily used by mamas who exclusively pump or who are pumping at work and have the flexibility to pump often.
If you are exclusively pumping, you don’t have to worry about timing feedings. If you are breastfeeding, you will want to do power pumping during a time when your baby is going a long stretch between feeds. Doing it in the evening when your baby first goes to sleep and is sleeping at least four or more hours is a good time to power pump.
Pumping both breasts results in higher prolactin levels, which results in more milk (Source). It’s as if you are telling your body that you are trying to feed twins.
PUMP WHILE BREASTFEEDING
Pumping at the same time you are breastfeeding is effective for the same reason that double pumping is effective. While twice as much stimulation will not always result in twice as much milk, it will usually result in more milk.
If your baby typically feeds from both breasts, then you will want to pump the first breast after your baby has fed on the first side while she is feeding on the second side. If your baby usually eats only from one breast, you can pump the other side while she is feeding.
REPLACE PUMP PARTS REGULARLY WHEN TRYING TO INCREASE MILK SUPPLY BY PUMPING
Worn out pump parts is one of the most common reasons I see when moms are not getting good results from pumping. Certain parts of your pump may need to be replaced regularly. They are usually going to be parts that are soft and flexible. An example is the white membranes in a Medela Pump In Style.
If your pump has a let-down setting or you have the ability to speed up the frequency of cycles, you have the ability to potentially stimulate multiple let-downs.
Let down is when the hormone oxytocin is released from your brain, and it results in the milk ducts contracting. This helps move the milk down and out.
When you are breastfeeding, and your baby starts sucking, they usually aren’t swallowing right away. All of a sudden, they start swallowing very rapidly. This is because your milk “let down.” The medical term for this is milk ejection reflex or MER.
You will know that this trick is working if you try it and see more milk being pumped for a minute or two.
The Medela Pump In Style is a tried and true pump that has a let-down setting.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO INCREASE MILK SUPPLY?
Moms are busy people. When you are trying to make more breast milk, you want to know how to increase milk supply fast.
Pumping is a very effective way to increase milk supply and do it quickly. Most women will see results within 24-48 hours of starting one of the pumping tips listed.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON USING PUMPING TO INCREASE MILK SUPPLY
Not all of these tips will work for all moms. It can help to combine a couple of these pumping tips. It can help to mix up the tips, trying one or two for a week or two, and then trying some different pumping tips the next week.
Let me know in the comments which pumping tips worked best to increase your milk supply.
I SHARE MY BEST TIPS IN BREASTFEED LIKE A BOSS eBook
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Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC
Andrea has been working with new families as an RN for over 35 years and a Lactation Consultant for over 25 years.
She has her MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation.