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Are you disappointed with the amount of milk you’re getting after a pumping session?
Do you wish you could pump MORE breast milk? Is that even possible?
The answer is yes, you can absolutely pump more breast milk, and it’s probably a lot easier than you may think.
Whether you’ve been struggling with a low milk supply or you’re simply not happy with the amount of breast milk you’re getting from pumping specifically, stick around.
We’re going to dive into a few possible reasons plus share some tips to help you pump more milk!
Why is your milk production decreasing?
Before we talk about some popular pumping tips and tricks, it’s necessary to know the cause of a low supply. Once you know the root cause, the solution will become quite clear.
There’s one element you need to remember. As your baby grows, your milk supply will change to suit their nutritional needs. So, some decrease can be normal, depending on the age of your little one.
However, there can also be other contributing factors that can decrease your milk supply:
Certain medications may reduce your production.
If you notice that your supply has suddenly dropped while taking antihistamines, birth control that contains estrogen, or a decongestant, you may want to consider this as a possibility.
2. Endocrine or hormonal issues
Did you know that approximately 80% of women face a hormonal imbalance at some point in their lives?
Your milk production depends highly on hormones. Fluctuations can also be a possible cause for lack of milk.
3. Stress and anxiety
After the birth of your new baby, it’s common to find yourself a little more stressed, anxious, and sleep-deprived than normal.
This can also affect your milk supply. Try to relax as much as you possibly can (those dishes and laundry can wait!) and never hesitate to ask your spouse or partner for extra help.
4. Irregular or infrequent feeding times
Your body produces milk as your baby needs it.
If you breastfeed your baby or pump more often, your supply will naturally increase.
But, if you are feeding your baby more infrequently or on an irregular feeding schedule, your supply will slow down accordingly.
One example of this could be that you have been supplementing with formula. Your body may think your baby needs less milk.
5. Other causes
Lastly, there are plenty of other causes that can cause a decrease in the supply such as:
- Thyroid problems or other underlying medical issues
- Food items, such as certain spices and herbs
- Reduced protein intake
- Alcohol, because it may affect hormones
There are many different factors that can lead to a lower milk supply. Finding the reason can help you get back on track with building up your production.
What is the normal amount of milk, anyway?
After birth, your baby has a small stomach and will not consume a large volume of milk.
It will take a few days for your mature milk to come on. Until then, your baby will consume colostrum.
As your child grows and their needs require more, your body should be producing around 25-35 oz. per day. If you are getting less than that, you may need to try boosting your supply.
How to pump more breast milk?
Now, let’s get right to the methods on some ways to pump more breast milk!
1. Try more frequent sessions
As your body reacts to the supply and demand principle, if you have any sitting in the breasts, your body won’t make more. If your breasts are empty, your body will produce more.
You can mimic this same principle by pumping more frequently, rather than doing large sessions at once. This method is known as cluster pumping.
The idea behind this method is to “trick” your body into thinking your baby is cluster feeding, which will trigger an increase in milk production.
2. Pump right after feeding your baby
Sometimes, after feeding your little one, it may feel like your breasts are still full. You can make use of this and start extracting immediately after your baby has stopped feeding.
There are two major benefits of using this method:
- You will get more volume
- Your overall production increases as your breasts are completely empty
It could be a simple and effective way to see positive results!
3. Know how to double pump
Many mothers today are trying out double pumping. This is a very successful way to increase your supply.
Here’s a fact: Double pumping increases milk production by 18% on average for most mothers.
So, what exactly is this method? Quite simply, it means extracting from both of the breasts at the same time.
Aside from an increase in supply, this method also has other benefits, including a higher fat content in your milk.
4. Focus on your diet
Your diet plays an important role when it comes to your milk production.
As a nursing mother, it’s important that you increase your fluid intake to ensure that you’re staying well-hydrated. If you aren’t sure how much you should be drinking exactly, refer to this article for extra tips.
One tip to get more fluids into your day is to try drinking water during or right after you finish extraction.
Considering your food intake, the CDC recommends that you increase your daily intake by 400 to 500 calories.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should eat a bunch of unhealthy food. Rather, you should opt for nutrient-rich options.
5. Try to relax and never compare
As a new mom, you have probably had plenty of people sharing their experiences. Some of them can make you feel relieved, while others may make you tense.
There are some women who may even have the same size of breasts as yours that can produce large quantities of milk.
Don’t put your focus here! For your sanity, never compare the amount of milk you’ve collected out with that of other mothers.
Each person has a different biological makeup. Comparisons can lead to stress and anxiety, and possibly case your production to decrease even more.
6. Find the right breast pump
Another thing to consider is your breast pump. It may not be efficiently extracting out all of your milk.
As the saying goes with pretty much everything– What works for one may not work for another. You have to find the methods and products that work best for YOU. And sometimes that takes some trial-and-error.
If you think your breast pump may be hindering your pumping success, here are a few tips to help you find one that will work better for you.
How to find the right breast pump for you?
Sometimes, swapping breast pumps can make a huge difference.
1. Go for quality over price
While there are some really great affordable breast pumps on the market, more often than not, you can’t go wrong when choosing quality over price.
The best way to check the quality of a pump is to read plenty of reviews! Reviews with a 3-star reading tend to be best because they usually list both pros and cons.
2. Electric or manual? Choose your type
The two main types of breast pumps are manual and electric. Each of these have their own positives and negatives.
Manual breast pump
These models do not use any electricity. With a manual pump, usually will need to extract the milk with your hand unless they use natural suction like the Haakaa breast pump.
Manual pumping is a good option for you if you don’t have to extract often and want an inexpensive model.
Electric breast pump
These versions need to be plugged in or charged and can be more efficient. However, they are also more expensive and can be more complex.
This style can definitely be a good choice if you want to pump more breast milk for your baby frequently.
3. Go double instead of single
If you are having extraction issues, it may be helpful to try a double breast pump (like the Spectra electric breast pump) to help in increasing your amount.
4. Get the proper fit
You must get the proper fit of the breast shield. This is because:
- Tight breast shields could hurt you and potentially cause clogging in your milk ducts. This can result in less production.
- Loose breast shields may not drain your breasts fully, resulting in a decrease of supply.
It is important that you find one with the perfect fit for maximum pumping efficiency.
Best pump tips for nursing mothers?
A few more pumping tips that can aid with increasing your overall supply:
- Use a warm cloth on your breast to stimulate let down and encourage a continuous flow
- Try out different positions and choose the one that helps
- Implement a frequent pumping schedule rather than an irregular one
- Try early in the morning since often your production is heavier during that time of the day
- Massage your breasts before pumping
- Use nipple creams for a smooth process and reduce the chances of sore or cracked nipples
- Try thinking about your baby as it stimulates let down
- Follow a balanced diet consisting of enough proteins and water
- Try eating something between sessions
- Consult a doctor or lactation consultant if nothing is helping
Frequently asked questions
Should I pump even when there is no milk?
Yes, you can try pumping for a few more minutes to send a message to your body for more let down.
How can I know when to stop pumping?
If you feel like your breasts are feeling flat instead of full, then you may stop pumping. You can also try for 10 to 15 minutes until there is no further let down.
Does pumping provide baby with less milk?
No, your breasts produce what your baby needs. Pumping won’t cause a decrease in production.
How to store milk after pumping?
You can store it in the refrigerator for a maximum of four days. You can also freeze anywhere from 6 to 12 months.
The CDC offers more breast milk storage guidelines and tips here.
If you’ve been wondering how to pump more breast milk, hopefully, these pump tips and tricks will help boost your milk production.
If none of these solutions work for you, then be sure to seek help from a lactation consultant or see your doctor for additional help.