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Do you worry about how much milk you are making? Most moms worry about their milk supply.
One of the most common reasons a woman stops breastfeeding is because she thinks she doesn’t have enough milk.
It is a breastfeeding truth that most moms do make enough milk for their baby to grow at a normal rate. It makes me wonder why so many moms worry that they don’t make enough breast milk.
But if you are reading this post, it is because you want 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.
There are 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.
But you don’t have to guess at what the best ways are to increase milk supply by pumping. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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 (Source).
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.
Hands-on Pumping Tools
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).
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.
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.
PUMP FOR LONGER PERIODS
Five minutes is probably a 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.
You want to pump even after your milk stops flowing. That sends the message to your body to make more milk.
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
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.
TRY TO STIMULATE MULTIPLE LET-DOWNS
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.
A COMMON QUESTION ABOUT INCREASING MILK SUPPLY WITH PUMPING
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.