Have you ever feel that you’ve pumped for half an hour but only getting drops of milk?
Or your breast still feels hard even though you’ve pumped for so long?
What’s the problem?
Why pumping can not be as simple as direct latch?
Pumping breast milk is a learned art that you’ll get better and better with practice.
The good news is today I have a few tips on how to pump more milk efficiently.
By applying these tips, I managed to get at least 40% more milk than what I used to get.
Aren’t you excited to know?
PS: If you are in a hurry, scroll down to the very end of the post to download your FREE infographics.
Let’s dive in..!
Before you start, make sure that:
- You use a good quality pump (here’s my recommendation).
- All pump parts are in good condition, pay attention to rubbery pieces such as valves that are easily worn out. If you haven’t changed it for the past 1 year, perhaps it’s time to replace it.
- All connection is tight (not too tight, though), and all tubings are connected securely to the pump motor.
- You have chosen the correct breast shield size (with proper breast shield size, you can further increase your pumping output!)
- Aim to get let down every time you pump. Pumping without let down is simply NOT EFFECTIVE.
And now, boost your pumping productivity with these 8 sure-to-work tips.
(this post contains affiliate links)
Tips #1: Aim for multiple let down instead of one
My confession: I aim for at least 3 let-downs per pumping session (at work), or two ( if pumping in between feeding).
This is my number one milk producing tips, try this!
On my desperate day, I even try to get the fourth let down. Yeah, the milk you get from second let down won’t be as much as what you get from the first, but combining them all together, you’ll get a lot more milk.
Getting the subsequent let down can be done in similar ways how you get the first.
After the milk flow from first let down slows down (hint: you should see only very little or no more milk drips), turn your pump to let down / massage mode again, or use these tips to stimulate let down again).
Note: it will take a longer time to get the next let down. So if you are used to getting your first let down within 2 minutes, you may get your second let down within 3-4 minutes.
Take it easy.. If you still haven’t achieved let down after 10 minutes, try again another time.
Tips #2: Use hands-on pumping for emptying breast thoroughly (and get more milk)
Perhaps you are familiar with hands-free pumping. I think you must have seen those before. A video of mom, pumping while working on her laptop, her breast shields are secured to her breast with a hands-free pumping bra.
Yea.., it is such a time saver. But if your goal is to get most milk from your breast, I suggest you not to multitask and use your hands to do breast massage.
I would still recommend you to get that hands-free pumping bra (this brand is one of the moms’ favorite) so that you won’t need to worry about supporting both breast shield every time.
Here’s how to do it:
- Focus on one breast at a time.
- Massage from the outer towards the areola.
- As you squeeze your breast gently, you will see more milk flow.
- Continue massaging until you see no more milk drips.
- Do similarly for the other side.
- Try it!
And to convince you that doing this is good to get most of the milk and drain your breast, watch this video.
Note that even though the video above is focused on premature babies, this technique also applies to other normal babies, at any age. Nancy Mohrbacher discusses this in details in her article.
Tips #3: Follow dual pumping with hand expression or manual pumping
If you watched the video in the link above (hint hint: you should watch if you haven’t), you will notice that in addition to breast massage during pumping, you can further increase your pumping output by doing hand-expression right after double pumping. In fact, combining hands on technique on dual pumping followed by hand-expression yield the highest amount of milk.
Marmet technique is one of the famous methods to do hand expression, here’s a video example to show you how to do it. It’s not really that difficult.
But if you are not into hand-expression (don’t worry, I can fully understand =D), you can use a manual breast pump to further empty your breast.
Don’t forget to always massage your breast, okay.
You don’t need to pump until a certain amount of time, but instead, until you see no drops of milk anymore.
Tips #4: Reposition the breast shield to get more milk flow
Do you know that repositioning breast shield may get your milk flow again? Try it!
There are two ways to do this.
First, is simply to re-attach the breast shield to recreate the vacuum, without changing the location where it was.
And secondly, if using the first method no longer gives you more milk, you can reposition the breast shield by focusing on different parts of your breast. If you haven’t tried these tricks before, seriously, try it!
Initially, I use these methods only when I pump with my manual pump. But then I found that I can use the same tricks even with an electric breast pump (click here to see my recommended breast pump).
Just be sure that you dis-attach the breast shield during the off-vacuum state (i.e. when the suction is not applied).
Tips #5: More frequent and shorter-duration pumping session is better than longer-interval and longer-duration pumping session
Say, you are away from your baby for 10 hours for work. Which one do you think is better? Having two pumping sessions, 30 minutes each, or 3 pumping sessions, 20 minutes each?
Some of you may say, hey they should be the same since the total time spent is one hour for both.
But actually, having more sessions will give you more milk.
I’ve tested this several times.
When I first returned back to work, I diligently pump 3 times a day at work, and able to bring in close to 200-250 ml alone from those 3 sessions.
As my workload gets tougher, I reduce my pumping session into two. Well at the beginning, I’m still getting roughly the same, or slightly less amount.
But after a few weeks, my supply depleted so much I was running out of my stock. And finally, I went back to pumping 3x a day again to bring up more milk.
If you wonder why having more pumping but shorter pumping session gives you more milk, let’s revisit the golden rule of milk production:
As you empty breast more frequently by pumping, you send a signal to your breast to make more milk, and thus you get more.
Similarly, when you pump less, you send signals to your breast that milk is not required urgently, and thus, breast will produce milk at the slower pace (and even stop if the breast has reached its maximum storage capacity).
This trick will also work even if you pump in between feeding, i.e. for stockpiling breast milk. Rather than having a single long session, break it up into a few short pumping sessions for more milk.
Tips #6: Don’t miss the golden hour of milk production
This is why typically our breast will feel fullest in the morning.
So don’t miss out this opportunity to pump more milk. Just wake up early enough and pump. You don’t really need to wake up in the wee hours, especially if your baby is still nursing at night. But once he sleeps through the night, you may want to consider doing wee hour pumping to maintain your milk production. A silent breast pump with night light (such as Spectra S1 or Spectra 9+) will offer you a lot of conveniences to do this.
Typically the morning pump session will yield the most milk compared to other pumping sessions throughout the day (if you are fully pumping in between feeding). This was one of my best trick to get more milk while stockpiling my breast milk.
Tips #7: Pump and nurse simultaneously.
I love to pump and nurse at the same time, especially when my baby is a newborn.
Not only it saves a lot of time, you don’t need to worry about trying to stimulate let down (because baby will do it for you, haha).
Pumping and nursing at the same time also send signal to your breast to produce more milk, as if you are nursing a twin. How good is that? Surely a win for you, right.
Make sure to use a bra that can be used for both pumping and nursing (here’s a good one).
However, please note that as your baby grows older, this trick can get more challenging.
Your curious baby will stare at your breast shield (thinking who is this guy, trying to compete with me for mom’s milk, and may start pulling the tubing). Well, that happened to my baby.
But anyway, every baby is different, you just need to try first and who knows your baby doesn’t mind nursing while you pump at the same time.
Tips #8: Do effective power pumping for boosting milk production
Have you heard about power pumping before?
If you have been pumping for quite a while, I believe you already heard about this term.
In simple term, power pumping refers to doing multiple-short pumping sessions within an hour period (with breaks in between) and doing it a couple of times a day (at least twice).
A typical one-hour power pumping would consist of:
- 20 minutes of dual pumping
- 10 minutes break
- 10 minutes dual pumping
- 10 minutes break
- 10 minutes dual pumping
The short answer is: yes, it can….
…. Provided that you do it effectively, and you stick to it long enough.
When I said effectively, that means, always ensure breast is emptied for every pumping session (so tips #2 and #3 are a MUST).
How long does it take for your breast to respond (i.e by producing more milk)?
I would say, it depends on a lot of factors such as the age of your baby, the power pumping frequency, and so on.
As your baby grows older, you may find that it takes longer time, 2 weeks or even more to notice the effect). This is especially true if you only do this once or twice a day).
Then, what about me?
Well, sadly, with 2 little kids around, sparing one hour for power pumping is already hard enough for me to do (raise your hand if you can relate). But that does not mean you’re a bad mom. Hey, we all doing our best for our kids, right.
So instead of doing power pumping, I do cluster pumping and nursing combo. It’s similar in terms of ‘pattern’, but instead of spending one hour, I only pump two sessions with 10 mins break in between, this is what I did in the morning. Then at night, I nurse my baby, then pump for 10 minutes (baby had daddy time), the nurse again.
The result is …, well, not so amazing, but I can notice a slight increase in my milk production. Check out my full pumping story here (starting from the day I started working, how I managed the freezer stash
Check out my FULL pumping story here (starting from the day I started working, rebuilding a depleted stash, until the day I finished my stash).
So, yes, if you can’t do power pumping, no worries. Try cluster pumping instead. And it will still help you to increase your milk production.
Phew.. What a long post that I wrote. I tried to be as detailed and comprehensive as possible so that you can apply these tips directly in your pumping.
To summarize all the points mentioned here, I’ve created an infographic for this to make it easier to understand.
PS: You are free to pin and share this with your friends, but please do not republish it on your blog / website. If you want to make reference to this infographic, you can simply link to this post. Thank you!
So that’s it. I sincerely hope these 8 tips answer your question on how to pump more breast milk.
Do you want to add more tips? What is your favorite tip to pump more milk efficiently?
Share with us!