How to Increase Milk Supply When Pumping
If you’re a mom who uses a breast pump partly or exclusively, these tips for how to increase milk supply when pumping are proven to help boost your milk supply.
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Pumping is an amazing opportunity for nursing moms to support their breast milk supply even when they are away from their babies or choose to exclusively pump. You can still empty your breasts with the right pumping equipment and encourage your body to keep making milk.
Draining your breasts fully is a natural way of increasing your milk production. The more milk you extract, the more your body will know to produce. While pumping you may experience some challenges which is why I’ve put together a list of tips to help you have a better pumping experience and improve your breast milk supply. If you’re looking for a quick reference, be sure to check out my most popular e-book The Ultimate Guide to Increasing Milk Supply Fast.
Tips to Increase Milk Supply When Pumping
Massage Your Breasts to Boost Milk Supply
Massaging breasts while or before pumping is a great way of stimulating the breast cells to make more milk and empty the milk ducts well. It will also stimulate the let-down reflex and your breasts will start releasing more milk naturally. Massaging breasts has many other health benefits. For instance, it can keep the breast issues like mastitis away and activate the breast cells to help them perform their function well.
You can massage your breasts gently with warm hands or use a breast massager. If you plan to do it with your hands, use your fingertips to put medium pressure and move them in the circular motion in all areas.
You can also try this handy Lactation Massage Roller tool that massages your breasts and moves the milk down your ducts. It is very popular and works well!
Apply Heat to the Breast Skin
Applying heat can activate the let-down reflex and encourage the breasts to bring the milk down. You can heat a soft towel and put it on the breasts to give them the right amount of heat. Moisten the towel to enhance the effect of heat.
You can also use these soothing nursing pillows that apply heat or cold to your breasts. These can be very helpful early on especially if you’re experiencing any engorgement.
Pump Many Times a Day
The more you pump your breasts the more signals your body will get to produce milk. When your breasts are full, the body stops making milk because it thinks there is less of a need. So, keep emptying your breasts by pumping to produce more milk. It is recommended to pump at least 8 to 12 times a day. But you can increase the number of sessions if you want to increase the supply. This is really important if you are away from your baby for any reason. You want to preserve your milk supply by pumping or hand expression.
Cluster pumping (or power pumping) is a healthy way of boosting milk production. You can pump your breasts every 5 minutes to give signals to the body over an hour or so. The frequency of pumping is more important than the length of time you pump each time. If you spend most of your time outside the home (to work or study, etc.) then you can practice cluster pumping at night or on the weekends.
To make your cluster pumping sessions more effective try to sit in a peaceful area and look at the picture of your baby. It will act as a stimulus and trigger the hormones to make more milk for the baby. Also, keep a water bottle or any healthy liquid nearby. Pumping can make you feel thirsty.
Try a Double Pump to Increase Milk Supply
Pump both of your breasts to boost milk production. It is more effective than single pumping. Both breasts send a signal to the body simultaneously. As a result, your body starts making more milk to meet the demand. You can use a hands-free pumping bra to hold the breast shields so you can relax or do other things while you pump to boost milk supply.
After working with hundreds of moms, the best pump in my experience is the Spectra S2. You can learn more about it here and read reviews. Check with your insurance if they cover it.
Skin-to-Skin Contact with Your Baby
Studies show that skin-to-skin contact with the baby significantly improves milk production. This contact acts as a stimulus and signals the body starts making the milk. So try to keep the baby near you or hold him if possible while you are pumping.
This method also works well to calm down your baby if your baby is upset or showing late signs of hunger. Put your baby skin to skin on your chest and this allows them to calm down and then you can try latching them.
Use Convenient Pumping Equipment
The quality of the pumping device you are using will affect your milk supply. Try to invest in a hospital-grade pump or an electric pump if you are planning to pump more often. Low-quality pumps or the ones that are operated by batteries are good only if you are going to use them a few times.
Similarly, the size of the breast shield and suction speed of the pump will also have an impact on your milk output. The breast shields should be held properly and the suction should be enough to suck all the milk out.
Clean the parts of the equipment that comes in direct contact with your breast to keep your breasts protected. Read the manual thoroughly to understand how to use it properly – there are settings that are important to mimic the sucking of a baby. If you still do not get how to use it, go to the manufacturer’s site.
Keep in mind also that a pump will never yield the same results as your baby suckling on your breasts to get milk out. Babies are just much more efficient- they’re so smart!
Set Up a Peaceful Area to Increase Milk Supply When Pumping
While it’s important to focus on pumping while you are actively pumping, don’t focus so much that you get stressed about it. Cover the bottles up with socks so you don’t look at the supply, sometimes that can cause us more stress at the moment.
Find your favorite book or magazine and read while pumping to take your mind off it. You can also try looking at pictures of your baby or watching videos of your baby to help release oxytocin.
Eat a Healthy and Nutritious Diet
The quality of your diet can impact your milk supply. Eat foods that are full of healthy vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Do not forget to increase your calorie intake (eat 400 to 500 extra calories every day depending on how often you’re breastfeeding and how much you weigh). Your body needs calories to make milk and provide healthy fats to your baby through milk.
Drinking plenty of water is also important to avoid issues like dehydration. Water is the most abundant component present in the milk. So, drink more glasses of water. Have a cup of water every time you sit to pump your breasts.
Try Supplements and Lactation Foods
Lactations foods and supplements have special ingredients that support breast milk production. You can try famous lactation supporting herbs like fenugreek, fennel, blessed thistle, etc. These herbs can be used to make herbal teas that also provide a tired mind with calmness and peace. Eat lactation cookies, lactation smoothies, and similar foods. Their ingredients usually increase prolactin production which is a hormone that starts milk production.
My top 5 picks for supplements include:
Each of these has their unique benefits when taking them, and help make your body healthier while increasing milk supply. You can learn more about their advantages inside my most popular e-book bundle The Ultimate Guide to Increase Milk Supply Fast.