When you are a new mom, you might be wondering how to maximize the amount of milk you produce during each pumping session.
It’s no surprise that new moms are incredibly busy and pulled in many different directions.
To figure out the best ways to get more out of each pumping session, I spoke with several new moms, and here are their best tried-and-true tips.
Here are the best strategies you can try to increase your milk production when pumping.
Try Power Pumping
One thing you can do is try power pumping to increase milk production. Try adding one of these sessions to your pumping routine once per day, for anywhere from 4 to 7 days.
Power pumping is a breastfeeding technique that involves pumping for short periods of time with frequent breaks in between.
The idea behind power pumping is to mimic a baby’s feeding pattern and stimulate milk production by mimicking the way a baby would feed if they were nursing and cluster feeding.
I tried adding a power pumping session once per day for 5 days. By the end of the 5 days, I was producing an extra 2 – 3 ounces per day. It was definitely enough to give me an extra cushion and to start building a freezer stash.
Power pumping typically involves pumping for 20 minutes, then taking a break for 10 minutes, and repeating this cycle for an hour.
The goal is to keep your body stimulated and encourage milk production. If you are really concerned about building your milk supply, some lactation consultants recommend doing this twice per day.
However, usually power pumping once per day for 4 to 7 days can be enough to help increase your milk supply.
Because power pumping takes an hour out of your day, it can be be tiring and time-consuming. However, if you need to increase your supply, it can be an effective way to increase milk production.
Something else you will want to remember is that milk production can vary from day to day and for different reasons, such as stress, hormonal changes, and lack of sleep.
You can read all my recommendations for power pumping in my article here.
Hydrate and Eat Well
Drinking enough fluids and eating a balanced diet can also help to increase your milk production.
If you are not eating enough calories, your body will not make as much milk. It can be easy to forget to eat a meal when you are constantly taking care of a newborn, so it is important to have a few quick options ready to go.
One of my favorite ways to make sure I have enough calories is to use this milk-boosting protein powder. It is specifically formulated to help increase milk supply.
It is super helpful to have a protein shake ready to make quickly when you are busy with a new baby and don’t have enough time to cook a full meal.
Another favorite way to hydrate is to use my favorite electrolyte drink to boost milk supply. You can read more about this drink in my article here.
Try to pump every 2-3 hours, including overnight, to keep your body in a “milk-making” mode.
One reason you want to pump frequently is to establish and maintain milk supply.
By pumping regularly, you are telling your body to produce more milk. The more often you pump, the more milk your body will produce.
This is because the hormone that regulates milk production, called prolactin, is released when pumping or nursing, and the more your body is stimulated, the more prolactin is released.
Pumping on a regular schedule will also keep milk flowing. When milk isn’t removed frequently, you can start to become engorged, which can cause pain and make it harder to pump.
By pumping frequently, you can avoid engorgement and keep the milk flowing easily.
Using a regular pumping schedule can also help you build up a small freezer stash and allow you to store milk. Here are all the best tips and tricks and recommended pumping schedules.
If you’re planning on going back to work or need to be away from your baby for any length of time, it’s important to build up a freezer stash of milk.
By pumping regularly, you are also keeping your milk supply stimulated and maintaining your milk production, even when your baby is not nursing.
Every woman’s milk production and pumping schedule may vary, so it’s essential to find the schedule that works best for you and your baby.
Some women may need to pump more often, while others may be able to pump less frequently, depending on their milk storage capacity and how far along they are post partum.
Use A Double Electric Pump
Another thing you can do is to be sure to use a double electric pump. This type of pump is more efficient at removing milk than a manual or single electric pump.
My favorite double electric pump is the Spectra. (You can read more about it in my article about the Spectra here.)
After you have gotten used to pumping with a double electric pump, you might want to try pumping with a portable pump that is hands-free, like the Willow.
The Willow can also help you to multi-task while pumping. Using this type of pump allows you to get small tasks done at the same time.
For example, if you work at a desk, you can type on the computer and respond to emails (or update charts if you are a nurse), all while pumping.
You can even use a hands-free pump to get a few things done around the house while pumping, like loading the dishwasher or doing laundry.
Try Different Flange Sizes
Make sure the flange is the right size for you. It is usually best to measure to find the correct flange size.
You can try using a tape measure, but one of these circular rulers (on Amazon) can really help make sure you have the best fit. Usually what is most comfortable is a flange size that is 1 – 2 mm larger than your diameter.
When pumping milk, the correct flange size is important because an incorrect size can cause pain and prevent you from fully emptying all of the milk.
If the flange size is too small, it can cause pain and decrease milk flow. It can also lead to poor milk flow and a decrease in the amount of milk that is pumped.
A flange that is too small could even cause injury, like a small cut which can be uncomfortable and reduce your milk output. If you pump and you feel a pinching sensation, the flange is likely too small.
On the other hand, if the flange size is too large, it can cause too much tissue to be pulled into the tunnel.
This can cause clogged ducts, which are very painful and can lead to mastitis if they are not cleared.
Using the correct flange size can help to ensure a comfortable and effective pumping experience.
Massage While Pumping
Before pumping, gently massage your chest to help stimulate milk flow. You can do this manually or you can use one of these massagers (link to Amazon).
Adding heat while massaging can help the milk to flow more quickly, and it can help to encourage faster let downs.
Generally you will get more milk with each let down. The goal is usually to make sure you have 2 or 3 let downs during each pumping session. This way you can make sure that you are fully empty after your pumping session.
Try to relax as much as possible while pumping.
Stress can decrease milk production, so find a comfortable, quiet place to pump.
You can try a few different things to relax and help encourage let downs. One is to watch a video of your baby. Another thing you can try is smelling your baby’s blanket or clothing.
You can also try to listen to soothing music or the sounds of your baby cooing or laughing.
Pro Tip: When I was pumping and away from my baby, I loved to watch videos of her cooing and laughing. All of these things can help stimulate the hormones to produce milk. I had these videos saved into a favorite folder on my phone so they were easy to access when it was time to start pumping.
Another thing that can help is to take a few deep breaths and imagine running water and milk flowing out of your body.
It’s also important to remember that milk production can vary from day to day and for different reasons, such as stress, hormonal changes, and lack of sleep. So, it may take some time to see a noticeable increase in milk production.
Must-Have Pumping Gear
Hear are a few of my favorite pumping items that made my life so much easier.
- This is the best pumping bra that is actually comfortable to wear all day long (the Sublime version). Use this link and code Lisa15 for a special discount on your purchase!
- Try the Chocolate Fudge flavor of this yummy milk-boosting protein powder.
- Click here for the best deal on the WillowGo pump!
- These are the best baby bottle labels that will not wash off or wear off. The pineapple design and the whale design are two of my favorites.
- My favorite pumping bag that is roomy enough for my pump, a laptop, a cooler, and a lunch bag. They have so many cute colors and prints but I really love the Floral print.
- These custom baby name onesies I found on Etsy are so adorable I ended up buying them in two different colors. The shop even has a really cute matching mommy and me set.
- I used this tiny mini fridge (link to Amazon) near my pumping station at home so I didn’t have to trek to the kitchen after a middle of the night pumping session.
- This postpartum care box has a couple of my must-have items for the first few months after baby arrives. The tubes that help with engorgement provide so much relief.
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