I spent last week frantically pumping for my 4-month-old, in anticipation of a many hour separation over the weekend. I was beginning to become overwhelmed and frustrated because I hate pumping, and it’s hard!
I am blessed to be a stay-at-home-mom so I don’t have to make pumping part of my daily life. But many moms do. And I know these moms are always looking for ways to increase their milk output.
First of all, it is so important to understand milk production. An output of just an ounce or two total is so normal if it is in addition to at breast feeding. Your body isn’t expected to make pints of extra milk! If you’re pumping in anticipation for separation, starting many days in advance would be a good idea so you have time to build that small stock. You will likely be surprised to yield a higher output when you’re pumping during your separation, because it’s replacing a feed as opposed to being a pump session in addition to full time feeding.
But what do you do when you need that milk to flow and you’re getting just a couple ounces, or maybe even just millileters? In no particular order, here are some tips for increasing your output when you’re in a bind.
- Hands on Pumping
Hands on pumping is a well known technique for increasing pump output. This involves massaging the breast and applying firm pressure to certain areas while pumping. In order to do this with a double electric pump, you may want to invest in a good hands free pumping bra! It’s not particularly easy to massage the breast while also holding the pump in place.
- Power Pumping
Different people seem to have different definitions of power pumping. Some will suggest pumping every hour on the hour. This may work for some women, so if it’s your style, go for it. I personally don’t usually recommend this method because it is an extremely exhausting approach and can become stressful and counterintuitive.
Rather, I suggest setting aside an hour of your day to dedicate to pumping. No! Don’t worry! I’m not suggesting you pump for an hour. Start your hour with a 15 minute pumping session. Once you’re done (as long as milk has stopped flowing, if it’s still flowing get it all, girl!) take a ten minute break. Then pump for ten minutes. Ten minute break. Pump for five minutes. Five minute break. Pump for 5 minutes. Be done!
The more you signal a demand for milk on your body, the more your body will produce. Typically you will get the most of your milk in the first session. You may not get any milk in the subsequent session, however you are putting a greater demand on your body. Many women who practice power pumping over the course of a couple of days will see a gradual increase to their output.
- Hand Expression
Hand expressing after the end of your pumping session is usually a great way to get the last drops. Personally, I can usually add about 1/2-1 ounce extra if I hand express afterward.
- Warm compress
Using a warm compress on the breasts before nursing can help to improve your output. Check out “Boobie Tubes” from Earth Mama!
- Pump while nursing
Another approach to improving your pump output is to pump one side while baby nurses on the other. Of course this isn’t always an option, however, if it is, try it! Baby’s suck is much more effective than any pump. When baby causes that let down, you can capitalize on it my having your pump ready and sucking.
There are, of course, many more tips, tricks, and techniques that moms will be able to share with you. Women are creative, and many mothers have come up with unique ways to increase their output. Chatting with parents at a local support group meeting could help you find a unique approach that helps you!
Checking your pump fit and and making sure all valves and pieces are in working order is going to be imperative in ensuring a strong output.
Keep in mind not all women respond to breast pumps. Our breasts were never designed to lactate for a pump. If you have a poor output, hand expression, manual pumps, or hospital grade pumps might be worth a shot.
What are your tips and trick for increasing your pump output?
*This post was originally published on the author’s website.