It is frustrating…
When you realize that your pumping yield is lower than what your baby needs..
You start digging out your freezer stash.. and you can feel it. If you don’t do anything, your stash will be gone very soon.
Are you looking for ways to increase your milk supply while pumping?
Perhaps you are a working mom who regularly pump at work but have been experiencing a drop in your supply.
Or maybe, you are an exclusive pumper who pumps day and night for your baby.
Whoever you are..., I know how it feel...
I’ve been there before.
I was working while pumping for my baby.
Blame the busy work schedule, or my laziness to maintain my pumping schedule, my daily pumping yield dropped to almost half!!
I was terrified. I frantically searched for more info on how to increase my supply back.
But after a few weeks, I was able to bring back my lost supply, yayy…
Want to know what I did to increase my pumping yield?
In this article, I’d like to share my top tips for increasing milk supply while pumping.
(This post contains affiliate links)
Heads up: I won’t be sharing tips that promise to ‘boost your supply overnight’.
The tips presented here needs work and patience.
If you don’t want to do the work, feel free to hit the back button and browse other ‘instant supply boosting tips’.
I personally believe that milk supply is largely about demand and supply, we need to do the ‘work’ to maintain our milk supply. Nothing is instant.
Without further ado, here are my top milk-boosting tips:
1. Do hands on pumping
If you don't know what it is, hands-on pumping means massaging your breast as you pump and follow up your pumping (if you use an electric pump) with hand expression.
Research has shown that hands-on pumping can increase your pumping output by 40%. This method is not solely for mothers of preemie, even a exclusive pumper swear by this tips.
Do you know that some moms can get between 1-3 oz extra just by doing the hand expression alone (excluding the amount pumped with a breast pump)?
I hope this little fact can motivate you to practice hands-on pumping.
Yes, hands-on pumping requires practice, but the more often you do this, the easier it will become.
However, if you are not a fan of hand-expression (don’t worry, me too ;)), consider investing in a good-quality manual breast pump (I personally used Avent manual pump, it is very durable and able to drain my breast properly).
BONUS: When you do hands-on pumping, expect to finish pumping faster and your breast is emptied thoroughly so that you’re less likely to get a recurrent clogged duct.
2. Tune up your breast pump.
When was the last time you perform thorough check on your breast pump and pumping accessories?
Change your duck-bill valves (or membrane) if it’s been a few months since you start using them. Make sure there's no tear in them.
Change your tubing if yours is filled with condensation.
If your pump accessories is pricey or not easily available, check if Maymom has some compatible items which can replace them. Maymom is not a breast pump brand, but it offers a lot of handy pumping accessories with very affordable price (and good-quality, too).
If you feel that your pump is losing suction and your pump is still within warranty period, get it checked by the customer service unit.
Or worse, if your breast pump quits working, get a new good-quality breast pump like Spectra S1. I personally felt very happy after the switch because this pump is so effective in emptying the breast (I no longer need to do manual pumping for too long, yeayy...)
3. Check your breast shield size, again
I know you may already carefully choose your breast shield size in the beginning of your pumping journey, but sometimes our nipples get bigger due to regular pumping (and thus, need a bigger flange).
Or perhaps, suddenly you realize that your need a special size (just like me, who ended up using a 21-mm insert inside a 24-mm breast shield).
It's no harm to double check again.
If you need help in getting the correct breast shield size, you can read this handy little guide.
4. If you have been missing some pumping sessions at work, be more discipline.
Set up daily reminder to pump.
Treat pumping just like how you treat your work responsibilities.
Make time to do it.
If you can't afford a special time for pumping, think of a way to multitask pumping with something else.
- use freemie and a portable pump and pump while working?
- use hands-free bra plus nursing cover and pump while driving?
- make up missed pumping session by pumping at home?
I personally opted for the 3rd option because I have a supportive family at home who knows that breastfeeding is one of my top priority.
Your case may be different than mine, so decide what you can do accordingly.
5. If adding more sessions seem difficult, what about pumping longer.
Add extra 5-10 minutes to your current pumping routine.
If you usually get several let-downs in one session, try to initiate one more during this extra time.
I used to get 3 let-downs. But when I tried to boost my supply, I tried my best to get 4 let-downs. You may only get a few ml initially, but remember you are stimulating your breast to produce more.
6. Do power pumping.
Convert one or two of your regular pumping sessions to power pumping. Pump for 10 minutess- rest for 10 minutes, pump 10 minutes, rest 10 minutes, and lastly pump again for 10 minutes.
Or, if you are desperately want to increase your milk supply fast, do the cluster pumping regime over the weekend. Pump for 20 mins every 2 hours for 48 hours (great to do during the weekend).
There are so many ways to do power pumping (click here to read my super-detailed guide).
Alternatively, if extra pumping seems daunting for you, do the nursing bootcamp instead.
Offer your baby to nurse more frequently during the weekend. Don't try to schedule too many things (like going out etc) for just one weekend. Just snuggle a lot with your baby and nurse, nurse, and nurse.
Some moms reported that after a lot of nursing in the weekend, they are able to produce more milk on the following Monday.
RELATED: Exclusive pumpers, click here to read 10 tips to survive exclusive pumping (including milk boosting tips from Denise).
7. Eat lactation-boosting food
I put this on the last because what works for one mom may not work for other moms.
And truly, even if you gobble up a lot of lactogenic food, if you don't empty your breast often enough, your milk supply won’t increase.
So do this in moderation. Don't just buy everything and later feeling disappointed because nothing works. Try one thing at a time.
Some popular booster includes:
a. Old-fashioned oat. The easiest way to consume this is by making an overnight oat and eating it as your regular breakfast. You can go as simple as soaking a cup of oat in a bowl of milk overnight, or as complicated as putting a lot of toppings: fruits, peanut butter, chocolate spread, etc). Click here for overnight oat recipe with brewer's yeast and flax seed.
b. Nursing tea (get the ones with tea bags so that it is easy to make). If maple scent and taste do not bother you, Earth Mama Angel Baby and Traditional Medicinal are some of the moms’ favorite nursing tea. Otherwise, if you want a more refreshing blend, you can try Blueberry-Pomegranate tea from Oat Mama.
c. Fennel (this herbs help to trigger let-down reflex, and thus very beneficial for moms who stop responding well to a breast pump).
d. Black seed oil (haven't tried this myself for boosting supply but heard that it helps in refilling the breast faster)
e. Fenugreek (very popular among moms and it's very affordable, too. Just pay attention that it can lower your blood sugar level).
f. Lactation cookie / brownie /smoothie/ granola. I've gathered up a lot of recipes to get you started. Click here to browse lots and lots of lactation boosting recipes (and don't forget to follow me on Pinterest).
g. Take medication to boost milk supply. Sometimes, you can go to a doctor / lactation consultant and request for some medication to increase your supply. This is especially useful if you have underlying hormonal problem. However, I advise you to do a detailed consultation first to understand the pros/cons of that medication as some may have unwanted side effects.
For more foods and herbs that support lactation, you can read the following articles:
Or these books:
I hope these 7 tips can help you to increase your milk supply when pumping. Lastly, whether you are a working mom or and exclusive pumpers, please remember that you are already doing your best for your baby.
Don't forget to take a good care of yourself. Get enough sleep and de-stress. You deserve this!
If you enjoy this article, please share it with your breastfeeding friends!
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