Whether you are pumping to prepare for long periods of time away from your baby or just want a backup freezer stash, you are going to want to make every pumping session count. You might be surprised to know that you can likely pump more milk than you are pumping right now by just incorporating some of these tips for pumping more milk!
1. Get a good breast pump
Not all pumps are created equal and every mom responds differently to a pump. Don’t automatically get the cheapest pump from your insurance. Make sure you do your research and that the pump has everything you need. You are going to want a closed system double electric pump with customizable settings for maximum power and comfort. It should also have a battery option for convenience and be pretty quiet for your own sanity. Check out the Pumpables Milk Genie. It’s got all of the above!
2. Get the correct sized breast shield
Breastshields comes in different sizes because our breasts come in all different sizes! An incorrectly sized breastshield can not only make pumping painful, but it can also affect the amount of milk you pump. If you are experiencing pain or discoloration of your nipple while you pump, little to no milk output, a pulling or rubbing sensation while pumping or cracked/blistered nipples you may have a breastshield that is not the correct size. Don’t worry, you are not left alone to figure this out. Check out the Fitting Room! Let an expert help you find the right size.
3. Hands on pumping
Get familiar with this technique. It has been found to increase milk output by up to 50%. It would be nice if our breast pump could do all of the work for us, but it has been found that if mom takes a more active role in pumping she can pump more milk. This combination breast massage and breast compression involves mom using her hands while pumping. You can do this with both breasts at the same time if you use a hands free pumping bra. (Learn how to make your own here!) When you have completed your pumping session hand express the rest of the milk. Every last drop counts and the more milk you express from your breast the more milk your breasts will make.
4. Know what to expect
You do not have to fill your deep freezer with milk to have enough even for an exclusive pumper. Learn here what you can realistically expect from your breasts and how much your baby actually needs for each feeding. It’s going to be less in the early weeks. More later. And can change based on a variety of factors like your baby’s age and even time of day! The truth is that you can pump what your baby needs. These ebbs and flows are totally normal.
5. Avoid Overfeeding
To continue from the previous point, the major reason moms feel that they are not keeping up with their baby is because they or their baby’s caregiver is overfeeding their baby. No one does this on purpose and it’s very easy to do. People think since the baby is still sucking on the bottle that the baby is still hungry. Not true. If you put a bottle in a baby’s mouth, they will suck! Educate yourself and your caregiver on how to properly bottle feed. You can learn all about paced bottle feeding here.
I know it sounds silly. You are a new mom and possibly worried that you are not pumping enough milk for your baby. You are anything but relaxed! It’s OK. There are things you can do to fake it when pumping. You will get to know your body if you don’t already know it by now. When you are pumping think about where there is tension in your body. Relax your shoulders. Use pillows to support any part of your body that you feel you are supporting with your muscles. Take deep, slow breaths all the way to the bottom of your belly. Support your back.
7. Picture success
Once you are physically comfortable you can focus on relaxing your mind. A worrying mind will cause tension and tension makes it difficult to stimulate a letdown. Keep breathing slowly and deeply. Then picture your breasts pouring milk. Imagine you are a fountain in a village square where milk sprays from your breasts. Picture your baby’s smiling face. Some women even record their baby’s cries on their phones to stimulate letdown when they are away.
8. Stick to the schedule
Get yourself on a regular pumping schedule. When you are away from baby pump when you would normally nurse or during your breaks. A few times during a typical 8 hour work day is enough. When you are with baby pump when you are finished nursing and/or about 1 hour before your next feeding. Skipping pumping sessions will leave milk in your breast and give your body the signal that it doesn’t need to make all that it’s making. So stick to that schedule.
9. Power pump
When your baby is going through a growth spurt they will naturally nurse more frequently. This removes more milk from your breasts and signals to your body to make more milk to accommodate the growing baby. Pretty cool, right? Well, you can mimic this behavior with your pump. You will need to set aside a few hours a day for a few days where you can pump frequently for short intervals. Read all of the details on how to do this here.
10. Nurse frequently
Unless your baby is not breastfeeding at all then you should nurse your baby as often as possible. Even the greatest pump will not be as effective as your baby at expressing every last drop of milk from your breast. Nurse your baby as often as possible. Tell your care provider to not feed your baby for a couple hours before you pick them up. We want a hungry baby at the breast as much as possible. This will give the best signal to your body to keep up milk production.
This guest post was submitted by Abby Theuring, also known as The Badass Breastfeeder.