How to Increase Milk Supply When Pumping
How to increase milk supply when pumping
When you resort to exclusive or partial pumping, you are always worried if you are able to produce enough milk for your baby. However, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern for you at all.
Your body will adjust automatically to the needs or demands of your baby and will start producing enough milk for him for every feed. If you have been combing your breastfeeding and pumping sessions, your body would have adjusted to these routines as well.
There are some reasons when you may have noticed that you are not producing enough milk for your breast. Yes, there are some simple tips that you can follow to increase your milk supply when you are pumping. We will talk about that in the later sections.
However, we would like to clarify certain doubts or issues that mothers have in this stage, right at the start itself, before we go on to talk about those tips. So, keep reading to know some of the basics in this process:
Some Common Issues that you don’t have to be Stressed about
When you start pumping your milk, you have greater access to measure how much milk you are producing, than when you nurse your baby directly. Therefore, it is quite normal for new mothers to fret about the volume they are able to extract, even when there is nothing to worry about.
- In the initial stages of pumping, you may be able to extract only very little milk, but that’s normal. Most mothers can pump about 2 ounces of milk from both breasts for a single feed. Some experienced mothers or mothers, who have a natural oversupply of milk may be able to pump more than this quantity.
- Never compare yourselves with them and get worried if you are producing enough for your baby. Every new mother’s body is different and adjusts beautifully for her baby’s needs. Therefore, feel relaxed knowing that you are producing just the right amount needed for your baby.
- The more milk your baby drinks, the more you will be able to produce. However, the golden rule that you have to remember is a pump cannot stimulate milk production at the same rate as direct breastfeeding.
- It is quite normal for your body to produce different quantities of milk at different times of the day. For some women, the flow of milk is at the highest in the early mornings, while for some, it is during the night. Therefore, you may be able to pump more than 2 ounces of milk during this phase.
- The volume of your milk production may come down due to some hormonal changes in your body. The milk supply may get hampered when your menstrual cycles have resumed. So, you don’t have to feel stressed when your milk supply has reduced suddenly.
- Sometimes, you may feel that your milk supply has reduced after about 2 to 3 months of delivery. This is because, in the initial weeks or months, your breasts may produce a lot of milk due to hormonal changes in your body. However, after some time, your body’s milk supply gets regulated to meet the demands of your baby. During this regulation phase, your milk supply may get reduced, but that’s not a cause for concern.
If you have faced one or more of these situations, you just have to give your body some time to adjust to the feeding routines. These situations apply to all mothers who pump exclusively or partially.
Reasons for Decreased Milk Supply when Pumping
Sometimes, you may genuinely feel that you aren’t able to pump enough milk to feed your baby. This doesn’t mean that your breasts have only a limited amount of milk in them. Most of the time, changing the quality of the pump and adjusting the pumping routines can help in increased milk production.
Some Common Tips to Increase Milk Supply When Pumping
If you feel that your milk supply isn’t enough for your baby, you can try the following simple tips to see if there is any improvement. If these don’t work, you can seek the help of your doctor or lactation consultant, who will help you with other techniques to increase your milk supply.
Use the right quality of pump to get maximum results
If you want to pump just the right quantity of milk that is needed for your baby at all times, you have to invest in a good-quality, electrical pump that fits you well while pumping.
If your breastfeeding routines dominate your pumping routines, you may buy a simple, hand pump. However, if you are going to pump frequently, it is highly recommended that you invest in an electric pump.
Many experienced mothers and lactation experts recommend you to invest in a double pump, though it is costlier than other pumps. This is because, with double pumps, you can easily pump from both the breasts at the same time, thereby saving you a lot of time and effort.
To ensure that your breasts are held firmly, while you relax in a hands-free mode, you can also buy good pumping bras. These bras come with shields to hold your breasts while they are being pumped.
Pump as frequently as you can
You need to understand the milk supply in your breast is purely based on the demand that is generated for it. Therefore, the more you breastfeed or the more you pump, the better is your milk supply. Sometimes, you can pump right after you have breastfed, because your baby wouldn’t have emptied all the milk in your breasts.
Pumping after a breastfeeding session ensures that you have emptied the milk completely to prepare your body well for increased milk supply. This is why the primary tip to increase milk supply in your body is to pump as frequently as you can. As a young and nursing mother, you must have heard about the term, cluster pumping.
This is a technique, wherein you keep pumping your breasts once in every 5 minutes so that milk production is stimulated in them. You can try this out daily in the first couple of months after delivery to see a good increase in your milk supply.
Once you stop cluster pumping and get back to your regular pumping & breastfeeding routines, you can include an additional pumping session every day to improve your milk supply. Pump at a time when your milk supply is at its peak, to empty your breasts completely.
Know everything that is there about the pump you are using
How should the pump be used? How to make them hold on to your breasts firmly? If you are using the pump for your second baby after many years, you should be absolutely sure about its condition before using it. Is the motor working? Are there any worn out parts inside? These are the questions you need to ask yourself before you use your pump.
Check with the manufacturer about any doubts you may have regarding the usage, warranty, maintenance, and replacement of the pump. Never use the pump without having a thorough knowledge of how it works.
For the exact positioning of the pump to pump the maximum supply of milk, you can also seek the services of a lactation consultant. If possible, you can get also get a high-quality, hospital-grade breast pump to rent for a few weeks to get a feel of its functionality before investing in it.
Follow simple pumping techniques
You have to spend at least 15 to 20 minutes per pumping session for each breast to ensure that you empty it fully. Even when no more milk is collected in the container, you should pump for an extra 5 minutes before stopping. When your breasts are completely empty, they become ready to produce more milk during the next nursing or pumping session.
Try to include more pumping sessions during the weekend or on holidays than what you have planned as per your regular routine. If your baby is less than 6 months old, you can try to include one additional pumping session in a day or power pumping (also known as cluster pumping) during the weekends, to stimulate the milk supply in your breasts whenever you can.
Massaging your breasts well or giving them warm/cold compresses before the pumping sessions can help in getting a good amount of milk supply that is enough for your baby. The pump flanges (also known as shields) should fit your breasts properly so that you can increase the pumping output. Using oversized or undersized flanges can hurt your nipples and hamper the milk supply as well.
Stay relaxed and eat well
You should be well hydrated, rested and healthy if you want your milk supply to be sufficient for your baby. According to experts, you may have to drink around 100 to 110 ounces of water per day, if you are breastfeeding. This will help you improve your milk supply. You have to drink one cup of water every time you pump or breastfeed, for best results.
Also, you have to consume a healthy meal that comprises at least 500 more calories per day than your usual meal, when you are breastfeeding.
You should consume a balanced meal that contains the right quantities of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals to stay healthy. A healthy body and a relaxed mind are key factors in producing enough milk for your baby during this phase.
Natural lactation supplements can help you
Since time immemorial, some foods are considered as lactation supplements as they help to improve the milk production in a mother. You might have heard these from your grandma.
Never ignore her advice, when it comes to these natural foods. Oats, brewer’s yeast and some spices such as fenugreek, fennel, and milk thistle are believed to improve milk supply in women. These are known as galactagogues. While there is no research about their role in improving the milk supply, there is no harm in trying them as they don’t have any side effects.
Other Important Points to Note
- Stay fit physically and mentally so that the milk supply in your body is regulated well. Practicing yoga or meditation daily can help you remain calm and reduce insecurities pertaining to your milk supply.
- When you are pumping, you can think of happy moments such as the moment of your childbirth or photos of your baby or other moments that you are grateful for. When you are happy and in a relaxed frame of mind, you can pump a considerable amount of milk.
- You can also listen to soothing music to keep yourself relaxed when you are pumping to improve your milk supply.
- When your baby has turned 6 months old or above, you can try to give him solids and other foods when you aren’t physically near him. When you come back from work, you can nurse him. This way, whenever you are near your baby, his demand for your milk will increase, due to which your milk supply will also improve, though he has started on other foods.
In all, there are different ways to increase your milk supply, but the most important tip for you to follow is to have a relaxed mind & body. Your body will form an automatic emotional connection with your baby within a few weeks. Therefore, it will produce enough milk to satisfy your baby during every feed.
As a new mother, it is quite natural for you to feel insecure and stressed about producing enough milk for your baby; however, as long as your baby is feeling full, you can be relaxed.
Trust your maternal instincts more than anything else, and you can get through this phase seamlessly. Eat well, rest well and sleep well to keep yourself healthy. This will improve your milk supply naturally. Talk to your doctors or lactation consultants, in case you have any doubts about improving your milk supply, as they will guide you in the right direction.