Power Pumping: How To Increase Your Milk Supply When Pumping
Being a mom is hard, especially when your milk supply is low and breastfeeding becomes a challenge. We feel you, mama, and we’re here to tell you to pat yourself on the back - you’re doing an amazing job. We’re also here to tell you that there are ways to increase your milk supply and take back control of your beautiful breastfeeding journey (yay)!
While breastfeeding frequently is the most efficient solution to a low milk supply, babies often don’t want to feed regularly or they struggle to empty the breast sufficiently. If this is something you’re experiencing, then pumping is your next best bet. How often should I pump to increase milk supply, you ask? That’s a great question.
To ensure that you’re on the right track, we’ve put together a list of our top 7 tips for power pumping to successfully increase your milk supply. We'll answer all of your pumping questions, and if you're still struggling to breastfeed, we have a variety of tried-and-tested supplements for you to try.
1 | How To Increase Milk Supply When Pumping: Pump Frequently
If you’re unable to breastfeed (there is no shame in this, mama) but you’re still able to produce breast milk, then you can pump as regularly as you would be nursing. We’re talking 8 - 12 times in a 24-hour cycle, and even more, if you can. The nights of expressing, feeding, burping, and putting to sleep will feel long and lonely, but it will pass as your baby starts to feed less regularly and sleep longer, and your milk supply regulates. We promise it gets better, mama!
2 | How To Increase Milk Supply When Pumping:
Use a Double Electric Breast Pump
Small, single, and manual breast pumps are perfect for intermittent (and hands free) pumping in between feeds and for quick expressing on the go, but if you’re pumping to increase your milk supply then we recommend investing in a double electric breast pump. Take note of the time of day you manage to express the most and schedule longer pumping sessions with your double pump over these times.
3 | Pump For Longer Periods
If you’re struggling with a low supply, you must pump for approximately the same length of time that you would be feeding. Newborns nurse for up to 20 mins on one or both breasts at each feed (don’t stress, this time decreases as they grow) and they feed almost every two hours. Yup, that’s a lot of time spent pumping, we know, so make sure you have plenty of water, a good book, and some delectable breastfeeding snacks to keep you going. If you find that more milk is being produced at the beginning of pumping and then nothing after a few minutes, try power pumping. Pump for shorter periods more regularly to ensure there's enough milk for your baby.
4 | Use Breast Compression
Massage is a powerful way to increase your supply. Before pumping, place a warm compress over your breasts and take some deep breaths. Try to relax. Remove the compress and gently massage your breast tissue. When you’re ready, begin pumping. You can continue to massage while expressing. This is also a great way for your partner to help out if he or she would like to - sometimes it can be challenging to massage yourself, especially if you have a manual pump.
5 | Try Different Pumping Positions
Always maintain a good posture while pumping - slouching can cause terrible backache and other issues you don’t want to deal with on top of a low milk supply. Sit in a comfortable chair or stand with your shoulders back and your weight spread equally on both feet. It’s vital that you feel relaxed, so make sure that you’re comfortable and calm. There’s no need to lean too far forward or recline too far back, but you can experiment with other comfortable positions.
6 | Take Care of Your Physical and Emotional Wellbeing
Ladies, this point is so vital. You need to put your physical and emotional wellbeing at the top of your list of priorities (right next to keeping your baby alive). Yes, exercise is great, but so is rest. If possible, call a friend or family member to watch your baby while you take a hot shower. Eat something delicious even if it’s not on the list of healthy things to eat while breastfeeding, and spend your baby’s naptime watching your favorite show if you need it (don’t wash the dishes or clean the house). Stay happy and healthy - not only will your milk supply naturally increase, but you will also feel much better overall.
7 | Supplements To Aid Milk Supply
Alongside healthy eating and lifestyle habits, if you’re struggling with a low milk supply we recommend that you introduce a supplement loaded with natural milk-boosting ingredients like our delicious Mommy Knows Best lactation cookies and Brewers Yeast smoothies. Not only are they healthy and tasty, but they really work!
8 | Additional Tips & FAQs
While we’ve managed to cover the most important tips to increase your milk supply while pumping, there are a few more things to note:
- Never ignore a blister or a sore nipple
- Power pumping to increase milk on the highest setting doesn’t mean you’ll express more milk - always keep your pump on a comfortable setting
- Contact a lactation consultant near you if you’re worried about your milk supply
- Drink plenty of fluids and healthy foods
- Spend as much time skin-to-skin with your baby to encourage milk flow
- [Insert other tips here]
FAQ 1: Can pumping too much decrease milk supply?
Not at all. In fact, the biggest issue that can occur from pumping too much is an over supply in milk which can cause engorgement, plugged ducts and its own host of issues.
FAQ 2: How long does it take to increase milk supply by pumping?
If you're following all of the pumping advice outlined above, you should see a significant increase in your breast milk production within three days. If your milk is not increasing, we recommend speaking to a medical professional or lactation consultant.
FAQ 3: Should I keep pumping if no milk is coming out?
If you're trying to increase your supply, we recommend pumping for a little longer after your milk stops flowing to try and stimulate milk production. However, we never recommend pumping for longer if you are in pain or discomfort.
FAQ 4: Why am I not producing enough milk when pumping?
There could be a whole host of reasons for not producing enough breast milk when pumping. Take into account your current health status, how often you're nursing or pumping, how many healthy calories you're consuming, how much water you're drinking, if you're stressed (physically and/or emotionally) and if your baby is eating more solids (weaning). If you have done everything possible, it's time to get medical advice and look at starting supplements.
FAQ 5: Does power pumping really increase supply?
Yes, yes, yes! Power pumping really does work. It is one of the best ways to get your body to produce more milk for your baby. It's important to note, however, that there can be many reasons for a low milk supply, so if pumping isn't working then there might be another reason. Don't lose hope, though, we're here to help - check out our list of FAQs about increasing milk supply.
Finally, breathe. It’s going to be okay, mama, we promise. You’ve managed to create a perfect little being, you’ll be able to feed and raise her, too. If you’re still struggling with a low milk supply after trying all of our pumping tips and tricks, check out what foods, drinks, and products you should try. Good luck, and remember: You’ve got this!